Our preview of the Colts’ 2016 opponents continues today with the Green Bay Packers, who the Colts will face in week nine of the 2016 regular season.
The Colts will travel to Lambeau Field for a 4:25 kickoff on November 6, their first trip to Lambeau since 2008 and the first of Andrew Luck’s career. In fact, the last time the Colts played the Packers at all was in 2012, a game that has become famous in Indianapolis as the ChuckStrong game.
The two teams will also meet in the first preseason game, as they will play in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio. Packers great Brett Favre is being inducted into Canton this year, while Colts greats Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy will be representing Indianapolis. Teams typically don’t play many starters or show much in the Hall of Fame game, and the fact that the two play later in the same season could prompt even more vanilla play in the preseason.
The Packers have one of the best players in football in Aaron Rodgers and a team that should once again be Super Bowl contenders. In order to get a better look at the Packers, Acme Packing Company - SB Nation’s site covering the Packers - gave us some information:
Green Bay Packers
Notable free-agent additions:
TE Jared Cook
OLB Lerentee McCray
Notable free-agent departures:
CB Casey Hayward (Chargers)
DT B.J. Raji (retirement)
WR James Jones (FA)
QB Scott Tolzien (Colts)
FB John Kuhn (ascended to heaven)
Packers send Nos. 57, 125 and 248 picks in 2016 draft to Colts for No. 48 pick (OT Jason Spriggs)
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
DT Kenny Clark: With Raji retiring, Mike Pennel suspended for the first quarter of the season and Datone Jones moving to outside linebacker, the team expects Clark to play a lot early on, likely as the starting nose tackle or five-tech.
ILB Blake Martinez: With Clay Matthews moving back to outside linebacker, veteran Sam Barrington and rookie Blake Martinez will battle for the starting inside spot next to second-year man Jake Ryan. Head coach Mike McCarthy already praised Martinez for his minicamp work, particularly his coverage ability. With Barrington still recovering from last year's foot injury, Martinez holds the early lead. Even if he doesn't win the job, Martinez should play extensively in the nickel, dime and sub packages.
Biggest offseason addition:
DT Kenny Clark: While Jared Cook garnered plenty of attention given the Packers' offensive struggles last season, Clark should end up playing a more significant role in 2016 and in future years. If not immediately, Clark should at some point become the team's new starter at nose tackle, a critical position in Dom Capers' defense.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
Eddie Lacy's weight loss: After playing most of the 2015 campaign visibly out of shape, Lacy has worked this offseason to remodel his body. Though hardly svelte, the running back looks closer to his 2013-14 figure. If his production can also return to form, the Packers offense should avoid the inconsistencies it dealt with most of last season.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
Defensive line depth: Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion have carved out niches along the defensive front, but the other starting spot as well as the depth behind them remains unsettled. Mike Pennel could become the starter at the five-tech once he returns from suspension, but until then the Packers have to decide between fourth-round rookie Dean Lowry, Datone Jones (who has mainly moved to an outside linebacker role) and a mostly faceless group of undrafted rookies and second-year players.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Jared Cook's foot surgery: Just added this offseason as a street free agent, Jared Cook has already undergone surgery on his foot. Though he has expressed confidence that the situation should resolve itself by training camp, the offense could endure some hardships if his injury lingers. The Packers don't have another tight end with both his experience and athleticism on the roster, and they need as many big bodies capable of exploiting the middle of the field as possible.