Football is finally here. The first preseason game is this Sunday, featuring the Packers and the Colts in the Hall of Fame game. While only the most hardcore football fans will watch all of the preseason, a lot of more casual fans might tune in for the Hall of Fame game.
The Hall of Fame game has consistently been the most watched preseason game pretty much every year. Why is that? I think it’s mainly because it’s the first game of the year. Also, it follows the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which puts people in a football mood. The Colts and Packers will be playing this year in honor of new Hall of Fame inductees Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, and Tony Dungy.
While the Hall of Fame game may be the most watched preseason game, it also happens to be the least important. This is because it’s an extra fifth preseason game for these two teams. That can be an advantage for players fighting for a roster spot, or to make it on to some team’s practice squad. They will get plenty of second half playing time in this game. As for the established veterans, I imagine they view this game as just an extra road trip.
A few of the players who had good showings in the Hall of Game the last few seasons were Giants RB Andre Williams, Bills WR Robert Woods, and Steelers RB/KR Dri Archer. All of these players inspired early expectations, and only a couple seasons later, they are all pretty much irrelevant. So, don’t put too much stock in any rookie or second year players having a nice game against second and third team defenses.
It’s unlikely Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck will play more than one series, if at all. However, there are a few interesting positions to keep an eye on in this game.
Hall of Fame Game Preview
Green Bay Packers vs Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers
With WR Jordy Nelson already dealing with an injury that will keep him out all of the preseason, and the fact that the Packers did not sign one receiver in the offseason, the door is wide open for any of the backup WRs on this roster to step up. We saw last year how bad this receiving group was without Jordy Nelson. James Jones and Devante Adams were just awful. Rodgers had to fight for every inch of yardage all season.
The three WRs that will be fighting to move up the depth chart are Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis, and fifth round rookie Trevor Davis. Janis may seem like the best of this group after he ended last season with a 145 yard, two TD game in the Packers playoff loss in Arizona. Janis only caught two passes all of the regular season though, and in two years in this league, he’s failed to make it onto the field much.
Abbrederis is actually listed ahead of Janis on the Packers depth chart. Like Janis, Abbredeis hasn’t seen much playing time in his two years in the league. He has suffered from injury though, dealing with a torn ACL in 2014, and a couple concussions last season. If he can stay healthy, Abbrederis may have the best chance of emerging from this group.
Davis is a slender speedster out of Cal. He didn’t have too impressive of a college career, and he’ll probably be more of special teams player.
It’s hard to imagine Frank Gore at age 33 carrying the load at RB for the Colts. He’s also getting to the point where any injury could be the end of his great career. The Colts backup RB situation doesn’t look too good either. Right now, Robert Turbin is listed as second on the depth chart, and Jordan Todman is listed third.
Turbin has done nothing in four years with the Seahawks and Cowboys. He couldn’t even average 4 YPC running behind the solid Cowboys offensive line last season. Todman has done even less in his four seasons with the Jaguars and Steelers. He has shown some receiving ability, and could end up being the third down back.
Josh Ferguson is the most noteworthy RB on this roster to me. Ferguson was an undrafted free agent out of Illinois. It was surprising to see him go undrafted. Ferguson finished his career at Illinois as the only active college RB with 2,500 career rushing yards and 1,500 career receiving yards. He had a decent combine, running a 4.48 40 yard dash.
Ferguson is undersized at 5’9″, 198, but he’s incredibly quick and shifty in short areas. He was also one of the best receiving backs in college, which will mesh perfectly with the Colts pass heavy offense. I predict Ferguson will have a great preseason starting this Sunday night, and leap frog Turbin and Todman to become Frank Gore’s primary backup.
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