GREEN BAY – The top priorities are the obvious ones.
Get something going in the running game and clean up the tackling.
Those are what Head Coach Matt LaFleur is most focused on as the Packers travel to Winnipeg to play the Raiders in their third preseason game on Thursday.
“It’s about finishing plays, really, on both sides of the ball,” LaFleur said following Tuesday’s practice. “And build on our special-teams performance from last week.”
The tackling issues have been discussed extensively after persistent problems in the first two preseason games, with the film showing a total of 43 missed tackles against the Texans and Ravens.
Offensively, the ground game has produced a very modest 3.3-yard average, with 147 yards on 44 attempts (not including QB runs). Take away one 28-yard burst last week by undrafted rookie Darrin Hall, and the rushing average drops to 2.8.
Those numbers have come without the Packers’ top two running backs, though, in Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. While Williams just got back to practice this week after a long absence due to a hamstring injury and did not take any 11-on-11 snaps in the open practices, Jones is expected to get his first preseason action this year.
Jones had been held out of the first two preseason games as a precaution due to hamstring tightness, and he won’t play more than a series or two against the Raiders. But LaFleur doesn’t want Jones to enter the regular season without having any full-contact reps, and with almost no starters expected to play in next week’s preseason finale, this will be the one chance for the running game to show what it’s got.