Five Green Bay Packers who need to be more involved in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Several Packers made names for themselves in the team’s opener against the Chicago Bears, but there are still several players who need to become more integrated into the team.
No matter how much better the Green Bay offense gets by the subtractions of Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin, it will eventually be cracked by defenses if Davante Adams is the only receiver the Packers can trust for 16 games. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has had some good moments on the outside, but he is still learning the nuances of the position.
Allison is also playing for a new contract. The Packers could have a hard time re-signing him given the amount of money they committed to next year’s books already. But if the offense is going to finally improve after years of mediocrity, Allison needs to step up. The Packers are playing a tough, fast defense at home against Minnesota, and have a chance to loosen things up with Allison taking some pressure off of Adams.
Allison still provides a little special teams value as a rusher, but the Packers need him to become more consistent as an intermediate receiver. In an offense that is quite lacking in top-end speed at every position, Allison’s sure hands could go a long way to giving Aaron Rodgers another third-down outlet.
2. B.J. Goodson
As great as the Green Bay defense was in Week 1, the Bears’ offense didn’t make it especially hard for them. The Vikings, with Kirk Cousins under center, are going to be a much stiffer challenge against Green Bay’s unit. One newcomer who might be of service is former Giant B.J. Goodson.
The Packers traded for Goodson just before their opening-night game. Ten days in between Weeks 1 and 2 should be enough time to get him acclimated into the defensive scheme.
Blake Martinez is in line for a big year at inside linebacker, but Oren Burks remains injured and Ty Summers isn’t ready to contribute just yet. Goodson started 13 games for the Giants last season, and while he is far from an elite presence in the middle, he could be a competent sidekick to Martinez.
The Packers have been trying to figure out what to do at middle linebacker for ages now. Goodson may not be anything more than a short-term piece, but his stand-alone value could be interesting for a defense that still has a lot to prove.
3. Rashan Gary
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine went with his best horses in Week 1, and it worked to perfection. Rashan Gary saw time at the end of both halves, and created one pressure on Trubisky late in the fourth quarter. Mid-September in Green Bay can still be hotter than is otherwise comfortable, and the wind of Za’Darius Smith or Preston Smith might be worth watching. Za’Darius Smith had to leave the game in the fourth quarter against the Bears to catch his breath.
Gary has all kinds of ability around him on the defensive front. The team is finally more agile, faster, and younger across the front. Gary is raw as can be, and getting his feet wet in Pettine’s defense is crucial. Furthermore, there is now a little bit of tape on the Packers defense and exactly what they did across their front. Gary can now be another wrinkle to a defense that is only going to be more and more scouted out over time.
The Packers have themselves a lot more to prove on the defensive side of the ball before they are cemented as one of the best teams in the league without the ball. Gary’s frightening physical tools could help push the defense into that realm.
Neither Jimmy Graham or Marcedes Lewis are providing the offense with any speed on the outside. While Graham still possesses elite 50/50 talent and is a devastating red-zone weapon, he and Lewis just can’t separate from defenders anymore. Robert Tonyan has proven to be an up-and-coming player in the NFL.
The Packers, led by Mike McCarthy, criminally underused their tight ends all of last season. Tonyan was involved in both the passing and running game against the Bears, and was at least decent in both fields. Early in the season, the Packers should experiment with what they have in Tonyan at the position.
Additionally, both Graham and Lewis in all likelihood will not be on the team after this season. The Packers would be well served to get Tonyan involved with Jace Sternberger on injured reserve.
5. Trevor Davis
Trevor Davis is still ages away from earning himself another contract with the Packers, but he clearly showed the team something in camp that warranted him a roster spot. The Packers are still in need of more speed on the outside, and Davis possesses it. His return skills can come and go over time, but his value on special teams is decent on its worst day.
Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard, and Darrius Shepherd are all projects to have at the end of the roster. Davis is at least the most developed of the guys at the end of the depth chart and needs time under Nathaniel Hackett and Matt LaFleur to truly find his niche. The Packers have clearly prioritized getting their tight ends more involved in the offense, so having a bit more pop on the edge is key.
Davis is an ideal play-action receiver as the only receiver in the set. LaFleur and Hackett need to quickly see if Davis can be used as a viable downfield receiver threat in addition to his special teams value.