It seems like a very long summer coming to an end as the professional football season is about ready to kick off next weekend. The Green Bay Packers have a tough act to improve on, having gone 15 Ė 1 last year, but the bitter memory of the early exit in the playoffs still lingers. The new season begs redemption and Aaron Rodgers and Company are prepared to remedy the situation for the Cheesehead faithful.
Last yearís offensive juggernaut was simply awesome, and the Packersí returning players on offense are almost all intact, so good things and lots of points are to be expected. The effect of the loss of Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin, who took the Miami Dolphins head coaching position, remains to be seen, but the Packers have so many weapons on offense, scoring points should not be a problem.
On the defensive side, many questions remain. Last yearís performance was pathetic and changes had to be made. Packer management drafted heavily for defensive players and they seemingly got some good ones. First-round draft pick Nick Perry is a lock to start the season at left outside linebacker and he looks like a stud player for many years to come. Fellow rookies Jerel Worthy, Casey Hayward, Mike Daniels and Jerron McMillian all have looked pretty decent in the preseason and should contribute immediately. Things are looking up.
Ted Thompson has a knack of bringing in unheralded, undrafted rookies who seem to be productive and this year is no exception. The one who has really caught my eye this year is Dezman Moses. Moses, an outside linebacker from Tulane with nice pass-rushing skills, brings to Green Bay exactly what we need and what we didnít have enough of last year. Moses has a nonstop motor and it will be very interesting to see what Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers dreams up to get Moses on the field in the sub packages.
Another interesting rookie to watch is second-round draft pick, Casey Hayward. Hayward has instinctive qualities that could land him the starting cornerback role opposite Tramon Wiliams before the season gets too far down the road.
Desmond Bishopís unfortunate season-ending injury has opened a huge opportunity for second-year linebacker D. J. Smith. Smith is an aggressive tackling machine and a candidate to step it up and make significant contributions for the Green and Gold this year.
Questionable moves by the Packer management are the addition of running back Cedric Benson and defensive end Phillip Merling. Benson has proven football talent but has lots of off-the-field issues. Even worse, he has a propensity to fumble the football. Keeping Merling is a real head scratcher. The former high draft pick of the Miami Dolphins has thus far been a total bust in his professional career and I didnít see anything in his preseason games to keep him employed.
The Packers face the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Sunday and this could be their toughest opponent all year. The 49ers have a very stout defense, one of the best in the league, thus the match-up against Aaron Rodgers and Co. should make for an exciting season opener.
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