Although Aaron Rodgers is the star of last weekend, and all the news heading into week two, let’s talk about how the young players on the packers roster fared to open the season. To set the rules, I’m considering anyone on their rookie contract to be a youngin’. Week one is always when the picture starts to become clear, you can always argue that this isn’t real football during the preseason. I would have had no leg to stand on arguing whether Josh Jones has improved since last season in either direction. Now that week one is behind us, we can at least talk about it.
1. DeShon Kizer: The second year quarterback saw regular season action far too quick into his Green Bay stay. He’s supposed to have the season to develop, even though last years injury to Rodgers was a major reason the team acquired him. I think the organization knows that if Rodgers goes down, we don’t have high hopes. To me, it was the first move pointing to life after Rodgers. I don’t think Kizer is the successor, Rodgers is signed for the next six seasons, but they’ve started their Tim Couch tire kicks.
After entering the game, potentially as the starting quarterback for the Packers this season, Kizer had ups, and really low, lows. He showed to have a lot of the same issues he had with the Browns as a rookie. He can throw a football, quite honestly, if he can sit in the pocket with his feet set, it looks beautiful. The Notre Dame product moved the ball into the Bears redzone. If you ignored the Rodgers terror, I was excited, maybe we have something after all. Next thing you know, Kizer is strip sacked, and the Packers walk away with nothing. The offensive line was getting dominated. It wasn’t necessarily his fault, but it wasn’t promising, if Rodgers can’t go against the Vikings, to say the least. Add an interception, leading to a pick six to his Green Bay debut, and it’s easy to focus on the bad. Kizer did show some flashes, but I don’t think the 22 year old would lead us to wins this season, if need be.
2. Jamaal Williams: The coaching staff seems to love Williams. He may not be the most explosive of the three running backs, but he probably has the most rounded game. He’s a threat in the passing game, but less than Montgomery. He’s a talented runner, but doesn’t have quite the big play ability of Aaron Jones. And yet, due to his ability to protect Aaron Rodgers, who is putting away enough money to make a run at being the majority owner of the Milwaukee Bucks someday, he may very well be our best running back. He was mostly snuffed at the line of scrimmage against Chicago, but had two nice 8-10 yard runs as well. I don’t think the running game is going to be a huge point of emphasis for the Packers as long as they have Rodgers. It just makes more sense to give Rodgers two chances at getting five yards for a first down, than it does to give Rodgers one chance on third and two. Largely, Williams had a fine night. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him getting the starting nod all sixteen games this season.
3. Geronimo Allison: I expected the third year receiver to step into Jordy Nelson’s role and flourish this season. I think he would have had a big year last season, if they had more ability to get him on the field. Well after week one, my hopes for Allison are only increasing. He pulled down five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown being the highlight of the night in my book, no disrespect to Randall Cobb. Aaron Rodgers threw the ball a mile into the air, placing the ball exactly where the Family Night net is positioned in the back corner of the end zone. Allison did a great job making the diving catch to give the Packers a quick hit to help fuel the comeback. Geronimo will be a great redzone threat all season long. If teams give too much attention to Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham, I think he can lead the league in touchdowns this season.
4. Josh Jackson and Jaire Alexander: I combined the two rookie cornerbacks because they both had pretty solid debuts. As in, it’s about a week since the game, and I don’t remember much about either player’s week one. It’s nice to allow them an easier match up to start the season going up against Mitchell Trubisky. I do recall both Jackson and Alexander, playing solid man to man defense down the stretch. But neither was really tested, as Trubisky was significantly off the mark on both targets. Combined with their strong preseasons, I would say they definitely passed their first game in the NFL.
Youngin’ of the Week: Kentrell Brice
Brice had a tough go at it last season, the coaching staff showed nothing but belief in him, even over their prized second round pick Josh Jones. He simply couldn’t stay on the field due to injury after injury. It was starting to feel like he was reincarnation of Allen Iverson against the 2001 Lakers. His lists of injuries were long by week five last season, it seemed he picked up a new injury each week. I was curious going into this season, whether the coaching staff would still view him as a player they could count on. I was half expecting them to move on and give Josh Jones every opportunity in the world to start the 2018 campaign. It was clear early into the preseason, that McCarthy still viewed him as a safety with a ton of potential.
Well against Chicago, he may have been the best player on defense. If there are two guys the team can count on to snuff out a player in the open field, it’s Blake Martinez and Kentrell Brice. He finished the game leading the team in tackles with nine, including a sack on Trubisky. If he can stay on the field this season, similarly to Allison, I think he could have a breakout season, and compete for a Pro Bowl spot. Between his athletic gifts, and the passion he plays the game of football, it’s hard not to believe in him. Hopefully Ted Thompson left us with one last undrafted star.