Normally we wait to do the 5 questions with our next opponent's SB Nation blog until the regular season starts, however Acme Packing Company reached out to us to get it going this week instead and we obliged. While it also is normally Levi Damien that handles our 5 Question articles, this week I get that honor because of my hometown actually being Green Bay.
A special thanks to Acme's Jason B. Hirschhorn for this Q & A session, and to Acme Packing Company in general as another one of SB Nation's outstanding team blogs. Without any further adieu, here we go!
I have heard Aaron Rodgers may not play in this game? Is that true? If so, who will we see at quarterback most of the way?
Aaron Rodgers has spent the week working with the scout team, effectively guaranteeing that the team plans to keep him in sweats for the game. Barring an unforeseen development, second-year man Brett Hundley should open the game under center for Green Bay.
Though the team has given no official word on Hundley's workload, expect him to play the entire first half. He missed all of last week's preseason tilt with an ankle injury, and the coaching staff would like to get a better handle on how much he has progressed heading into 2016. After Hundley, undrafted rookies Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams should take the reins for the rest of the way.
Any relatively unknown Packers players we should be keeping an eye on in this one?
Rookie linebacker Blake Martinez has gone from a fourth-round draft pick with minimal Year 1 expectations to a likely starter in the Packers' base 3-4 defense. He doesn't have the job locked down just yet, but he performed well in his preseason debut, exhibiting strong instincts, quick reaction time and better-than-expected pass-rush ability. Martinez played only a few series last week and exited alongside the other presumed starters, so his run on Thursday could only last a few series.
On offense, undrafted rookie Geronimo Allison has gone from total afterthought within a deep receiving corps to someone likely to garner serious consideration for a spot on Green Bay's 53-man roster or practice squad. He may even get some time with the No. 1 offense.
Eddie Lacy lost a ton of weight going into this season, how is he looking at the lower weight and should we expect the back we saw in '13 and '14, the disappointing one from last year, or has he changed his style in general now that he is in such better shape?
Though Eddie Lacy certainly looks slimmer now than he appeared at the end of the 2015 season, he remains a bigger back who runs through contract rather than around it. Head coach Mike McCarthy seemed to make a statement last week when he ran Lacy on the first four plays of the Packers' opening possession, and the fourth-year back responded with 24 yards and multiple broken tackles.
Though that represents positive news for Green Bay, it doesn't necessarily mean Lacy has returned to his 2014 form. Each of his first two seasons, Lacy managed double-digit touchdowns and became a meaningful factor in the passing attack. His production fell off significantly in both areas last year. The Packers still need to determine whether his newfound dedication to health can help him rebound in those facets of the game.
What players are on the bubble to making the Packers roster who might be good for other teams, like the Raiders, to consider picking up? Jeff Janis has looked good in the past but I have heard he was struggling this off-season and now has an injury.
Jeff Janis' athletic profile makes him an appealing asset for any team, but as you mentioned he has struggled to live up to his potential outside of last year's playoff performance against the Arizona Cardinals. While Janis could theoretically end up on the open market, it seems far more likely that the Packers will place him on injured reserve instead.
The Packers have other intriguing players who might miss the final cut, however. Safety Kentrell Brice has ideal range for a safety, but the logjam at the position could prove too much to overcome. Likewise, Robertson Daniel and Josh Hawkins have made a handful of plays during training camp and the preseason, though cornerback looks like the Packers' deepest position on the roster. Unless injuries thin out the competition, the team will have to make at least one of those players available come September.
What do you think of the NFL's treatment of Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers over the recanted Al Jazeera report? Do you think they will test the NFL's will and not interview despite the threat of suspensions?
As with all of the recent NFL vs. NFLPA battles, the issue boils down to precedent and both sides aiming to avoid losing ground for future disputes. The league believes that the CBA language as well as its courtroom victory in the Tom Brady case gives it the latitude to compel the players named in the Al-Jazeera report to interview in person. Conversely, the union sees the Brady decision as relating to an entirely different issue and therefore irrelevant to the situation at present.
If I were advising Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and the other affected players, I certainly wouldn't submit to the NFL's demands. The league remains free to conduct whatever investigation it deems necessary, but that doesn't mean it can force players to do things not explicitly stated in the CBA. If the players don't fight for their rights, they risk losing them, and that affects more than just those mentioned in the aforementioned report.