Packers at Washington: 5 things to watch

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams (30) works on a fundamentals drill during training camp practice on Tuesday, August 8, 2017, at Ray Nitschke Field.

Packers (1-0) at Washington (0-1)

When: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.

Broadcast: Radio - WTMJ AM 620. Television – Channel 4 in Milwaukee and the Packers Television Network across the state.

Injury report: Packers - DT Montravius Adams (foot), CB Damarious Randall (concussion), WR Malachi Dupre (concussion), CB Davon House (hamstring) and WR Colby Pearson (ankle) are not expected to play; S Jermaine Whitehead (ankle), RB Ty Montgomery (leg), WR DeAngelo Yancey (groin) and TE Aaron Peck (neck) are questionable. Washington - S Su’a Cravens (knee), OLB Junior Galette (hamstring), WR Maurice Harris (knee) and WR Levern Jacobs (hamstring) are out; WR Josh Doctson (hamstring) and LB Ryan Anderson (stinger) are questionable.

Five things to watch

1. Defensive matters: The Packers ranked 31st in total defense last year. Washington ranked 28th. Both teams are trying to get off on a good foot and establish a new identity. For the Packers, it means blitzing more, playing man coverage and working their “nitro” defense. Washington’s retooled defense played fast against Baltimore in its season opener and wants to build off that.

2. Making a case: Coach Mike McCarthy basically ignored the running game in the first game. He can’t do that two weeks in a row. If Montgomery doesn’t play, he should take a long look at rookie Jamaal Williams, who has been the best of the three draft picks so far. He’s by far the best blocker and of all the backs he seems to find the hole quicker in Green Bay’s zone system.

3. Stacking the line: The Packers have a 3-4 defensive alignment in which they replace one of the inside linebackers with a safety. It gives them more flexibility to cover pass-catching backs and tight ends, but it’s unclear if it can hold up against good run games. Washington coach Jay Gruden said he plans on running the ball a lot, so this should be a good test.

4. Catch as you can: This could be a good chance to settle the No. 4 receiver position. With both Yancey and Dupre unlikely to play and the starters slated for limited action, Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis need to settle this matter. Max McCaffrey would like to get into the mix, but those others are bigger and more experienced and need to step forward.

5. Do over: Backup left tackle Jason Spriggs needs a reset after a lousy week. He gave up a bad sack in the Eagles game and then struggled this week in pass protection, drawing the ire of the coaches. Spriggs needs to step up his game because if either David Bakhtiari or Bryan Bulaga gets hurt, he’s next up. He’s a second-round pick and would have to start on many other teams.

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