Welcome to your game day Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers from around the web and here at PackersNews.com.
The Packers host the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight for their second preseason contest of the 2018 season. It is the first preseason contest between the two teams at Lambeau Field since 1996, a 24-17 Green Bay victory. Including the regular season, it is the fourth meeting between the two teams since 2013.
We’ll start with Tom Silverstein’s 5 Things To Watch for tonight’s game.
1. STAND-UP GUY: In the first game, it was Marquez Valdes-Scantling who made a splash. Will he build on it or is it another rookie’s turn? This is an on-going saga so there’s a chance Valdes-Scantling will hit a bump and one of the others will step forward. Fourth-round pick J’Mon Moore needs to bounce back from a lousy first game and show he hasn’t gone into a funk. Equanimeous St. Brown just needs more chances.
2. TACKLE TALK: If right tackle Bryan Bulaga doesn’t start, either Kyle Murphy or Byron Bell will get the call. It’s no easy assignment. Pass-rushing outside linebacker Bud Dupree is back from an injury and will be looking to set a good tone to his season. Murphy deserves the start because he has played the best of all the backup tackles, but has played mostly on the left side. Jason Spriggs was starting at right tackle ahead of Bell, but was demoted late last week.
3. JUMPING FOR JOY: Look for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is expected to start, to look early and often for tight end Jimmy Graham, especially should the offense get into the red zone. The Steelers are probably not going to be doing a lot of scheming to neutralize Graham, so he may get some favorable one-on-ones. He and Rodgers need to continue working on their timing on those fade balls that Graham is so good at going up and getting.
Tom also has a preview of the game in the latest Packers Podcast:
Ryan Wood writes on Tim Boyle’s promising camp:
Be sure to read Pete Dougherty’s chat for lots of insight and analysis:
Elsewhere, former agent Joel Corry has a realistic look at how a trade for Khalil Mack could work:
On the surface, the Packers are a logical destination. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, 32, is in a contract year and hasn't had a double-digit sack season since 2014.
McKenzie has a great relationship with the Packers. He spent 18 years as a scout and front office executive in Green Bay prior to becoming Raiders general manager in 2012.
The Packers are the only team with two first-round picks in the 2019 draft. In addition to their pick, the Packers have the Saints' pick that was traded during this year's draft. The picks are expected to be near the bottom of the first round since both teams are considered playoff, if not Super Bowl, contenders.
The Packers have just over $11 million of cap space so a contract restructuring or two would be necessary unless a player was a part of the trade. For example, including Matthews should allow the Packers to retain one of the 2019 first-round picks. Gruden's affinity for older players dates back to his days when he was essentially calling the shots with the Buccaneers after winning a power struggle in 2003 with Rich McKay, who had been general manager for 20 years.
Seasoned veterans, such as wide receiver Jordy Nelson and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, were among Gruden's biggest free-agent acquisitions this offseason. Both players are older than Matthews. The Packers would be picking up $10,837,500 of 2018 salary cap room from dealing Matthews, which would leave right around $8 million of space after getting Mack.
Green Bay would become very top heavy financially. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been negotiating an extension that will make him the NFL's highest-paid player if an agreement is reached. Mack would likely set the standard for non-quarterbacks with a new deal.
Lombardi Ave. chimes in:
Rob Demovsky writes on what makes Jimmy Graham special:
Good Morning Football talks about tonight’s game:
Ahmad Thomas joined the Jim Rome Show to talk Packers camp:
LeRoy Butler has Aaron Rodgers' back:
Fun look back from Andy Herman here:
As he does with every team every year, Deadspin’s Drew Magary brings the goods on the Packers:
Ben Fennell joined the crew at Pack-A-Day to preview tonight’s game:
Packers Wire gives you 5 players to watch for tonight’s game:
Cheesehead TV looks at the path Kyle Lewis took to Packers camp:
Jason Wilde writes on the study habits of Marquez Valdes-Scantling:
Are the Packers set to contend in 2018?