By Chris Langton @Langtron57 on August 7, 2014
With a few great additions and tweaks to both the offense and defense, 2014 promises to be an interesting year for the Green Bay Packers. Last year the team suffered from serious injury problems along with an apparent lack of depth. With such topics in mind, here are a few essential things to keep an eye on when they visit the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.
Earlier in the offseason the Packers added veteran pass rushing machine Julius Peppers. He may be getting old but his skills are proven and his is still one of the meanest pass rushers in the league and will be a great asset to the team. Capers and Mike McCarthy have both indicated that they will use Peppers' versatility to their advantage but Saturday will be the first time his implementation into the defense will be tested.
With Morgan Burnett (most likely) out of the game with a minor injury to his obliques, first round pick Ha Ha Clinton Dix and Micah Hyde will definitely see some significant field time at safety. It will be important to see how Hyde performs at safety in a game situation rather than just in practice and whether Clinton-Dix's college skills translate to the real deal.
Randall Cobb was assigned to return punts and kickoffs for the 2013 campaign, but after his injury Micah Hyde inherited that job. Cobb and Hyde are unlikely to return to the return specialist spot given their increased importance in 2014. Coach McCarthy has indicated that Dujuan Harris may be used as the third running back and returner this season, but other names such as rookies Davante Adams and Jeff Janis have been thrown around as well.
Who will be the tight end who lines up with the first string offense? Different players bring different qualities to the table. Andrew Quarless proved himself to an extent last year as did Brandon Bostick, whom Coach McCarthy has called the team's best blocking tight end. Rookie Richard Rodgers has also impressed his coaches during this offseason.
There are quite a few things to watch for from the Packers' linebackers in Saturday's game. Will Clay Matthews be back to his former self or will his injury have a lasting effect? Will rookie Carl Bradford see time at outside or inside, and will he outplay Brad Jones if placed on the inside? Finally, will Dom Capers utilize five linebackers in some situations or will he stick to four?
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