Packers vs. Patriots: What to watch for

Stars from Cincinnati game look to keep it going

QB Sean Clifford

GREEN BAY – Preseason game No. 2 will kick off at 7 p.m. CT Saturday at Lambeau Field.

Here's what to watch for against the Patriots.

Continued progress from Cincinnati standouts: Backup QB Sean Clifford, running back Emanuel Wilson, receiver Malik Heath and cornerback Carrington Valentine all were stars of one sort or another in the preseason opener against the Bengals.

But can they keep it up? Clifford, a fifth-round draft pick, played an aggressive style that produced 23 points in nine drives, but he also threw two interceptions, including a pick-six. His goal is to stay on the attack while protecting the ball better.

Wilson, an undrafted rookie, had six carries for 111 yards and two TDs, including an 80-yard score. Those numbers will be difficult to replicate, but if he stays productive and can showcase some pass-catching and pass-blocking skills as well, he'll help his cause.

Heath, another undrafted rookie, had three catches for 36 yards and showed his blocking prowess in the run game. Is an explosive play next?

Valentine, a seventh-rounder, has shined during practices and the preseason opener, generating plenty of buzz about him finding some kind of role on defense. At some point he's going to get beat for a big reception, because it happens to all of them. His reaction and response will be watched closely.

More from the receiver competition: The two Day 3 draft picks at receiver, fifth-rounder Dontayvion Wicks and seventh-rounder Grant DuBose, are making noteworthy strides.

This past week, Wicks was getting reps with the first-team offense after catching three passes for 68 yards, including a 47-yard catch-and-run on an in-breaker from Clifford, in Cincinnati. He missed some time early in camp due to a concussion but appears to have put that behind him.

DuBose was just cleared for 11-on-11 work this week after missing all of OTAs, minicamp, and the first portion of training camp due to a back injury. In limited time, he's made his share of plays in practice and this will be his first game action.

Offensive line depth: Second-year pro Rasheed Walker, a seventh-round draft pick last year, made a move up the depth chart after a strong outing in Cincinnati, taking reps at both left and right tackle with the first-team offense this past week in practice.

He could be in for another healthy workload against the Patriots, and the Packers would love to know they have another versatile tackle amongst their depth up front, especially with Luke Tenuta and Caleb Jones both now dealing with ankle injuries.

Elsewhere in that position group, Jake Hanson returned from an elbow injury and should get some game action, while Jon Runyan has been taking some snaps at center to test his versatility.

The rookie kicker's rollercoaster: More specifically, can Anders Carlson get off said rollercoaster? The last time he kicked in Lambeau Field, on Family Night, he made 9-of-10 field goals, with the lone miss due to a bad snap. Since then, though, he's experienced good stretches followed by consecutive misses, both in Cincinnati and in practice.

Smoothing out his game would put a lot of fans' minds at ease.

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