What to watch for in Packers-Colts HOF Game

It's curtains for the offseason.

We're mere hours away from two real football teams squaring off in the first live action since Super Bowl 50.

Granted, the Hall of Fame Game is typically a snoozefest. Big-name starters watch sleepily in street clothes while long-shot backups tug us through three-plus quarters of low-octane fare.

Cynics can wave off this tilt between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts, but football die-hards finally have something to chew on.

We aren't going to uncover state secrets on Sunday when these two clubs tangle in Canton, Ohio, but here's what we'll be looking for:

  1. While Packers coach Mike McCarthy has yet to confirm it, don't expect quarterback Aaron Rodgers or backup Brett Hundley to play. Rodgers -- who will be on hand to watch Brett Favre's induction -- didn't practice Thursday, while Hundley skipped the session with an ankle injury. That means we're in for a long, sexy look at undrafted rookie passers Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams. It will be impossible to get a true read on Green Bay's air attack with wideout Jordy Nelson also out of commission due to knee tendinitis.
  1. The Colts are taking a different approach, with coach Chuck Pagano saying this week that quarterback Andrew Luckwill see time along with all healthy starters. That alone is worth the price of admission after Indy's season was deep-sixed last year due to Luck suffering a rash of injuries including a lacerated kidney. Stephen Holder of The Indianapolis Star noted that he was a "bit underwhelmed" by Luck's camp until Monday struck, when the franchise passer, per The Star's Zak Keefer, "was on fire" and "masterful in a red zone drill against the Colts' first-team defense," while looking "like the Luck of old."
  1. The Colts quarterback will only play a series or two, but it's worth tuning in to see how Luck jells with Making the Leap wideouts Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. The Around the NFL gang is especially excited about Moncrief, who Chris Wesseling called "a do-everything wide receiver with strong run-after-catch ability and DeAndre Hopkins-like physicality and acrobatics near the sideline and in the end zone." Dorsett struggled last season to master the offense and never quite meshed with Luck, but he offers tantalizing speed and playmaking ability if he can iron out the kinks.
  1. As mentioned on the latest Around the NFL Podcast, preseason football can tell us a lot about running backs. Are they in prime shape? Or the opposite? Plenty has been written about Eddie Lacy's P90X-triggered weight loss -- reports have him down 20 pounds -- which is encouraging for Green Bay's ground game. Still, after Lacy missed Thursday's practice with an ankle injury, we're bound to see a combination of James Starks, John Crockett, Brandon Ross and Brandon Burks carry the ball. We don't expect to see much of Colts veteran Frank Gore, but keep an eye out for undrafted rookie Josh Ferguson, who has "flashed consistently" during camp, per Holder. "He's smart. He picks things up in a hurry. He's very, very athletic," Pagano said of Ferguson. "He's a great receiver out of the backfield. We can split him wide, we can displace him formationally. He's a mismatch out in space. He's got juice. He can go. He's got great vision."
  1. The big question for the Colts is how their revamped offensive line will protect Luck, but fans won't see their prized new addition against the Pack. First-round center Ryan Kellymissed his third straight practice Thursday with a shoulder injury and will not play Sunday.
  1. Datone Jones switching to outside linebacker is one of the bigger storylines in Green Bay. Packers position coach Winston Moss said the former first-round defensive lineman was "probably a little awkward in the OTAs, but I've been only impressed with him in training camp." Getting in Luck's grill on Sunday would serve as a nice start to a critical season for Jones.
  1. It won't be easy to assess Indy's defense against a pair of undrafted Packers arms, but look out for second-round Colts safety T.J. Green, who has chewed through first-team reps while Clayton Geathers nurses a foot injury. "T.J. has made a quantum leap since we ... came back from minicamp in terms of his understanding of the system," defensive coordinator Ted Monachino told The Star. "He's a rare cat and we think he's going to be a very good player."
  1. Let's not forget about August wonderboy Jeff Janis. With Nelson out and Ty Montgomery (ankle) unlikely to play, the third-year receiver -- who sparkled during last year's playoffs after a silent season -- has a chance to make an impact Sunday. Still battling chemistry issues with Rodgers and currently listed as a third-teamer behind Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis, Janis -- a fascination among fantasy-heads -- is under pressure to deliver.
This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content