The Arizona Cardinals hit the road to play the Green Bay Packers in their preseason opener. As such, we reached out to Acme Packing Company, our own Packers site. Tex Western, their version of me (but undoubtedly a better one), was willing to answer a few questions as the two teams face off in preseason Week 1.
Here is what I asked and how he responded:
ROTB: So injuries have been the theme around the NFL...especially for Green Bay. What are the key injuries and how much are the starters expected to play?
APC: Don't expect to see much of the Packers' starters (at least Aaron Rodgers or Clay Matthews) after about the second series. Left tackle Bryan Bulaga injured his knee at the Packers' open scrimmage on Saturday and appears to have torn his ACL - he is expected to miss the entire season. Jordy Nelson had some knee surgery this week to correct a nerve problem and he'll be out until at least week one. Other contributors like DE Mike Neal and RB DuJuan Harris have been out on the PUP list, but Neal looks like he'll be ready to practice tomorrow and might make an appearance on Friday. But all in all, the Packers don't like to risk injury to starters early in the preseason, and with good reason.
ROTB: What are the positions most up for grabs and how have those battles gone so far in camp?
APC: The running back job is up for grabs at this point, but Eddie Lacy has impressed the most so far. He had a great showing in the scrimmage and has run with authority in practice. At defensive end, Datone Jones looks to be competing for a starting job with Neal and C.J. Wilson. So far, Jones has taken the bulk of the reps with the starters in the nickel package, with Neal sitting out and Wilson taking the starter's reps in the base 3-4. The big question now is at tackle, with Bulaga out. Rookie 4th-rounder David Bakhtiari got the first shot at the left tackle job in practice, with veteran Marshall Newhouse manning the right tackle position. The kick returning jobs are also up for grabs, and nobody has stepped up and staked a strong claim to those jobs yet.
ROTB: What rookies are Packers fans going to paying most attention to? Whom should Cardinals fans watch in particular?
APC: First-round pick Datone Jones will be the highlight on defense, while second-rounder Lacy and fellow running back and 4th-round pick Johnathan Franklin will be the most talked-about players on offense.
ROTB: What are the biggest training camp/preseason storylines thus far?
APC: Injuries are the theme, yet again. Last year, ILB Desmond Bishop and CB Davon House went down early. This year it's Bulaga and Nelson. Therefore, the question goes from "how will Bulaga adjust moving from right tackle to left?" to "who will keep Aaron Rodgers' blind side protected?" instead. As for positives, it's probably the impressive play of Jones and Lacy, who have looked solid in practice.
ROTB: What have been the biggest offseason changes for the Pack?
APC: The commitment to the running game and the addition of the young backs is the biggest change. Before Bulaga's injury, I would have said the flipping of the offensive line - he moved from right tackle to left and right guard Josh Sitton moved to left guard. But with Bulaga down, the quest for a capable left tackle will be a significant challenge moving forward.
More from Revenge of the Birds:
- Cardinals vs. Packers: 3 Arizona offensive players to watch
- Team getting good competition at both tackle spots
- Ryan Lindley no lock for the final roster
- Kerry Taylor taking knowledge, opportunity from NFL journey
- 5 questions about the Arizona Cardinals for Football Outsiders
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