Assuming that the healthy starters play up to par, who, among the recently-promoted reserves needs to step up their game to give the Green Bay Packers the best chance of winning tomorrow’s game against the Cleveland Browns and beyond?
Let’s look at offense first …
Wide receiver Jarrett Boykin will most likely start in place of the injured Randall Cobb against the Browns tomorrow. Boykin, a Jacksonville Jaguars castoff, has been with the Packers for about two seasons and has shown “potential,” but has shown little when crunch-time arrived (case in point: Last week he dropped about five passes thrown to him or in his general direction. Really inspires confidence in the casual Packers fan, doesn’t it?)
The team promoted TE Jack Stoneburner and Myles White from the practice squad. Stoneburner had some brief moments during his preseason stint with the team, but obviously not enough to make the regular roster in September. Still he shows some promise for his size (6-3″, 255 pounds with 4.54 speed) and I am interested to see what he brings to the Packers’ TE puzzle, especially with Ryan Taylor out.
One of these three players will need to step up to take pressure off of Jordy Nelson, who is sure to see double coverage. I see the main key in this game as RB Eddie Lacy. He should easily see at least 20 carries. If the Packers running game can top 140 yards and eat clock, the passing attack should not need to win this game. An assist from TE Jermichael Finley is also always welcome for a win.
… and the defense
On defense, LB Brad Jones will not play and with Nick Perry AWOL due to injuries as well with Clay Matthews, we will get a healthy dose of rookies Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer. Adding insult to injury, LB/DE Mike Neal may not play as well due to a shoulder injury.
On the bright side, the Packers’ secondary is getting healthier and Casey Hayward and Jarrett Bush did practice to some degree this week. There is no word yet as to their playing status, but that is simply looking for the silver lining in this sea of green distress. The healthy members of the defensive line will need to put heavy pressure on Browns’ quarterback Brandon Weeden and not make him look like the second coming of Joe Montana. If they do that, I can see the Packers pulling out a win, 24-14.