Five big concerns

As the Green Bay Packers prepare for their first preseason game against the San Diego Chargers this Saturday, I have five major concerns regarding the state of the Packers. I would hope Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy feel the same way.

The Packers have a chance to surprise some people this year, but they need to address these issues. The sooner, the better.

1) The offensive line
The Packers are woefully thin from a depth standpoint on their O-line. Tackles Kevin Barry and Adrian Klemm are out for the season with injuries. Backup guard/tackle Will Whitticker will be out for awhile with a hamstring injury. Starting left tackle Chad Clifton is easing himself back to practice, but his recent repaired knee is still a problem.

The Packers are also starting two rookie guards in Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz. Thompson needs to acquire some depth either via trade or waiver wire. It all starts in the trenches and right now the manpower in the trenches is depleted.

2) S Marquand Manuel
Is it me, or does it feel like Manuel isn't even on the team? He has yet to take the field in training camp. The Packers have a chance to have a special secondary with Manuel, Nick Collins, Al Harris and Charles Woodson. But to be special, they have to be on the same page. That means getting in reps TOGETHER as a unit. The same goes for the nickel and dime lineups. Manuel needs to get out of the trainers room and on the field soon.

3) The place-kickers
The Packers found out last year how a shaky kicking game can be the difference between a win or a loss. With Ryan Longwell in Minnesota, the Packers are looking at Billy Cundiff and Dave Rayner to be his replacement. Both have good leg strength, but have been inconsistent in field goal attempts. The real test will be game situations. If the duo struggles, then look for Paul Edinger to be next in line. Edinger reportedly made 12-14 kicks in his tryout last week in Green Bay. Edinger is also a NFC North tested kicker that knows all about late December in Lambeau Field and Soldier Field.

4) The wide receivers
The Packers are set with Donald Driver at one of the wideout positions. It appears that rookie Greg Jennings has the inside track on being the other starter with a great camp thus far. Fellow rookie Cory Rodgers flashed some nice potential in the scrimmage last Saturday night as well. But none of the other veteran wide receivers has distinguished themselves. Robert Ferguson and Rod Gardner appear to mirroring the underachiever status that they have earned so far in their relatively short careers. Marc Boerigter has been inconsistent. Ruvell Martin has flashed some potential.

The bottom line is that Thompson should look into acquiring Jerry Porter from the Raiders if the price is right. Driver, Porter and Jennings would give the Packers a very solid package. The hourglass is running out on Ferguson and Gardner. I predict that at least one, if not both, will not be Packers this season unless they show something soon.

5) The running backs
It was great news for the Packers to see Ahman Green back at practice this week, even on a limited basis. With the implementation of the new zone blocking scheme, the Packers will need all the depth they have to get into synch preparing for the regular season. Look for Samkon Gado and Noah Herron to get the bulk of the carries early in the preseason. But both Green and Najeh Davenport need to get their reps as well at some point later in the preseason.

I look for all four halfbacks to make the team as both Herron and Davenport can also play fullback. The Pack will need the added depth at the position based on the season-ending injuries last year to Green, Davenport and Gado.

Green will be given every chance to be THE guy again, but the Packers will probably give all of their backs decent playing time in order to keep fresh and wear down opponents.

Note: Bob Fox is a longtime Packers fan and frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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