CREATED Aug. 9, 2013
GREEN BAY - Finally, after months of waiting and anticipation, the Green Bay Packers will take the field in their first action of the (pre) season under the lights at Lambeau Field against the Arizona Cardinals tonight.
Preseason football is not meant to be measured by the scoreboard. Sure, winning the game is a plus.
But the purpose of preseason games is to determine the makeup of the team.
Which players will persevere long enough to make it through the final cuts and be a member of the 2013 Packers?
Some of those questions will start to be answered tonight.
The preseason offers the opportunity for individuals to stand out from the competition and state their case to make the final roster.
With that being said, here are five players who must impress during tonight’s game in their efforts to make the final grade:
1) David Bakhtiari
All eyes will be on the 4th round rookie as he gets his first test as the replacement for injured Bryan Bulaga at left tackle.
All indications from practice are Bakhtiari is up to the challenge. However, there is a huge difference between taking on teammates during practice and battling an opposing team in game action.
Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy should know by the end of the night if Bakhtiari will be the solution for this coming season.
2) Mason Crosby
Following a horrific performance at Family Night, Crosby could be kicking for his Packers career tonight.
His leg may be strong, but has become so inaccurate that one missed kick might spell the end of Crosby’s run in Green Bay.
His competition, Giorgio Tavecchio, has had a solid camp, and outperformed Crosby during Family Night.
Who runs out on the field to attempt the first kick might be a strong indication of who has the upper hand in the competition. For Crosby’s sake, he should hope it is him.
3) Datone Jones: The first round pick has had a solid camp, living up to his early selection in the draft.
His addition to the beleaguered Dom Capers defense is expected to provide pass rush off the defensive line, something not seen since Cullen Jenkins still manned the line.
However, like Bakhtiari, he will be facing his first game action tonight, which is much different than practice action.
Capers will undoubtedly be extra vanilla in his defensive approach tonight, so don’t expect any funky formations. But look for Jones to make his first impact rushing the passer and plugging up running lanes.
4) Graham Harrell: Despite holding the number two QB job for all of last season, Ted Thompson signed Vince Young this week to up the competition level for Harrell.
While not necessarily flashy, Harrell has shown steady growth during his tutelage under Mike McCarthy.
For some reason though, Ted Thompson felt the urge to scratch the Vince Young itch, and despite having a few less than impressive practices, Young is prepared to play in tonight’s game. Harrell needs to outperform Young if he wants to continue to hold the number two spot.
5) Running backs: Which of the running backs will emerge from the group following tonight’s game?
Will James Starks continue his solid camp with a strong performance?
Will Jonathan Franklin be able to show some of the shiftiness he is capable of doing?
What about Alex Green? Will he be able to steal carries in his efforts to become the starter?
Don’t forget about Angelo Pease, looking for playing time as well.
Eddie Lacy and DuJuan Harris are not expected to play tonight, as they are both nursing injuries.
McCarthy has said that despite being injured, Harris is still the Packers starting running back. While this may be nothing more than coach speak to increase the competition, it could also be the truth.
If it is indeed a motivating factor, it should provide more than sufficient inspiration for all of the running backs to run even harder tonight.
John Rehor (@jrehor on Twitter) is a writer at PackersTalk.com and co-host of Cheesehead Radio.