Packers vs. Cardinals: Three things I'll be watching for
The Green Bay Packers season officially begins Friday night at Lambeau. For the fourth time in pre-season history, the Packers will take on the Arizona Cardinals.
Below are three things I'll be watching for in the game.
1. The Battle at RB
Rookie Eddie Lacy is dealing with a hamstring issue and, according to Mike McCarthy, may not play. Also sidelined is DuJuan Harris. That leaves James Starks, Alex Green, Jonathan Franklin (R), and Angelo Pease (R) to split carries.
The battle within the battle will be interesting to watch, but I'll be very curious to see what sort of impact Pease can make if Lacy is unable to play. With Lacy and Franklin stealing much of the headlines, Pease is quietly having a nice camp but not receiving much attention. Pease is not flashy, but he is versatile, blocks well, and packs a punch in his 5'10" 215 pound frame. He and Franklin are the best receiving backs on the team. My guess is that he ends up on the practice squad, but he should have a chance to impress in a game situation Friday night.
2. The other "Vince" in Green Bay
After just three days of practice, QB Vince Young is expected to play Friday night. The Packers signed the 30-year old Young Monday to compete for the backup job along with Graham Harrell and BJ Coleman. From a physical standpoint, the 6'5" Young looks the part, but he hasn't played since December of 2011. What I'll be watching to see is the level of comfort Young has in the Packers complicated offense after less than a week. I'll also be watching to see how Young reacts when things break down. His timing may be off in the passing game, but my sense is that his legs are just fine.
3. Who earns a leg up?
For the first time in a few years, the Packers brought in competition for kicker Mason Crosby. Left-footed kicker Giorgio Tavecchio has been solid in camp and it appeared to be an even competition until the Packers Family Night scrimmage. Crosby made just 3-8 field goals on the night while Tavecchio connected on 6-7.
What I'll be watching to see is just how confident Crosby looks when he lines up for his first FG of the night. I'll also be watching to see if Crosby is given the first chance of the night. Crosby has the stronger leg, and his ball gets into the air quicker and at a higher launch angle than Tavecchio's. None of that means a dang thing if the ball doesn't split the uprights.
Another thing to pay attention to is kickoffs. Punter Tim Masthay has been booming kickoffs into and through the endzone with regularity during camp. If the Packers opt for the weaker-legged Tavecchio as their FG kicker, it's certainly possible the Packers would use Masthay as their long kick-off man.