It’s the first installment of our First Four Thoughts series. The Green Bay Packers will provide us with weekly content that we’ll deliver to you as our first four thoughts of the week every Monday.
We’re not only wrapping up the Packers’ preseason, but also looking ahead to the regular season. Our news specialist, Mike Kawano, and I will tackle those topics today.
1. What was the biggest surprise of the preseason?
Mike- The IOL is the most surprising development for me. Coming in, I thought it was a forgone conclusion that Lucas Patrick would start at RG and the only question was whether Elgton Jenkins would stay at LG or slide to LT and Jon Runyan Jr would start at LG. Inconsistent play by both has led to that being nulled completely as LaFleur rotated the starters for several practices before seemingly settling on Lucas Patrick at LG and rookie 4th Round Pick Royce Newman at RG. The surprising rise of Newman reminds me of another former college RT, Green Bay Packers Legend Josh Sitton in 2008 when he was a rookie starter out of Central Florida, until an injury set him back. We’ll see in 13 days how the starting OL shakes out, starting with Tuesday 8/31 at 3pm CST when the 53-man roster is set.
Isaac- For me, it was the competition at wide receiver. We knew going in that the Green Bay Packers were keeping MVS, Lazard, Cobb, Adams, and Amari Rodgers. What we didn’t know was that the Packers had 4 players who were more than capable of winning the 6th receiver role. Ultimately, the job should go to Malik Taylor.
2. The Green Bay Packers improved at a handful of position groups since last year. Which improved position group will ultimately impact the team’s success the most this season?
Mike- ILB has long been a position that has been neglected by the FO, but 2021 may see the Packers field its best ILB unit in over a decade. Projected starters Krys Barnes (my personal UDFA crush last offseason) and veteran De’Vondre Campbell give the unit a stable starting duo while Oren Burks is healthy and looks finally in line to put his potential to use on the field.
Isaac- I believe the answer is edge rusher. The Green Bay Packers retained everybody from that position group and I’d like to think that Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary will all play better than they did last year. There’s also heavy competition at the reserve role. Jonathan Garvin is the favorite, though he’s been pushed by both Tipa Galeai and Chauncey Rivers. The Packers might be forced to keep 5 edge rushers this year.
3. Who’s one guy you’re rooting for to make the final-53 on Tuesday?
Mike- Tipa Galeai is my pick. He was another UDFA crush of mine last year and I thought it was telling the team burned his 2 practice squad call-ups early last season. He’s shown some good burst and explosiveness off the edge this preseason on the pass rush along with better anchor on the edge against the run.
Isaac- I’m going with the homer pick here, in Cole Van Lanen and I think he’s got a pretty good shot at making the roster. I played high school ball at the same school as VanLanen – Bay Port. Van Lanen then went on to star for the Badgers and I’ve been cheering for him the whole way. Wouldn’t make sense for me to stop now.
4. Which gameday quirk would you have to warn someone of who’s watching a game with you for the first time?
Mike – I can’t eat or drink prior to games. Even at halftime, I don’t stop to eat. I’ll maybe take a swig of a Coca-Cola but that’s about it. It’s the manifestation of my nervous energy for each game and my wife knows not to even bother cooking for me.
Isaac – I have a rolling outer-monologue that continues throughout every Packer game, and meanwhile, I’m incapable of holding any conversation. I’m usually complaining about something. Other times it’s just random thoughts that I feel I need to vocalize that I probably do not.