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Patriots vs. Packers preview: Get to know New England’s Week 4 opponent

The Patriots will be back on the road this week.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Coming off a disappointing home opener that saw them lose the game and their starting quarterback to injury, the 1-2 New England Patriots will be facing another big challenge in Week 4. They will be traveling to Wisconsin to take on the 2-1 Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The team of head coach Matt LaFleur has had an up-and-down season so far. They dropped their season opener on the road against the Minnesota Vikings 23-7, but have since won back-to-back games: they beat the Chicago Bears 27-10 in Week 2 followed by a 14-12 win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday.

Green Bay has not looked particularly impressive during those three games, especially on offense. The numbers are a reflection of that:

  • Record: 2-1 (2nd NFC North)
  • Offense: 16.0 points/game (27th), 355.7 yards/game (12th), -0.015 EPA/play (14th)
  • Defense: 15.0 points/game (6th), 302.7 yards/game (6th), -0.050 EPA/play (9th)
  • Turnover differential: -2 (t-24th)

Make no mistake, though: the Packers offense and the team as a whole are still pretty talented and capable of giving the Mac Jones-less Patriots some problems this week. New England will need to bring its A-game in all three phases to be competitive in this one — something the team has not consistently been able to do yet, even with Jones in the lineup.

With all that said, let’s now jump right to the Packers’ active roster to get to know each of the players currently with the Patriots’ Week 4 opponent.

(Note: The 53-man roster is up-to-date as of Wednesday 7 a.m. ET)

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love

The Packers’ quarterback needs no introduction. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best players of all time, and as such a massive challenge for every defense. Through three games this year, Rodgers has not quite been his usual productive self, however. While he has completed 68 of 94 pass attempts for a 72.3 percent success rate and 684 yards, he only has thrown four touchdowns as well as two interceptions.

Behind him sits third-year QB Jordan Love, a first-round draft pick in 2020. Love’s status will be interesting to watch moving forward and with Rodgers turning 39 later this year, but for now he is spending virtually all of his time on the bench.

Offensive backfield

Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Patrick Taylor

The Packers’ ground game is led by the two-headed attack that is the duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon — two capable runners and receivers out of the backfield. At the moment their are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on Green Bay’s list of leaders in scrimmage yards: Jones has gained 293, with Dillon contributing 196.

Former undrafted free agent Patrick Taylor is providing depth behind them. However, he has been used exclusively on special teams so far this season.

Wide receivers

Romeo Doubs, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Christian Watson, Amari Rodgers, Samori Toure

Green Bay’s wide receiver room underwent some massive turnover this offseason. The team did not just trade All-Pro Davante Adams to Las Vegas, it also lost Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown in free agency.

Meanwhile, Allen Lazard (6-58-2) was re-signed as a restricted free agent and is now part of a starting lineup that features offseason acquisition Romeo Doubs, the team’s receiving leader with 14 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. The fourth-round rookie and veteran Randall Cobb (7-108-0) will be heavily featured alongside Lazard.

The team also has two other rookies on its roster. Second-round pick Christian Watson (5-43-0) is the team’s current WR4, while seventh-rounder Samori Toure (0-0-0) has had a limited impact so far. Green Bay furthermore has veteran Sammy Watkins (6-111) on injured reserve, but he will not be eligible to play against the Patriots this week.

Tight ends

Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Tyler Davis, Josiah Deguara

The Packers have used all four of their tight ends quite a bit this season, with veteran Robert Tonyan the group’s leader. He is first in playing time and has also caught 11 passes for 84 yards.

Veteran Marcedes Lewis has been used primarily as a blocker, meanwhile, with Tyler Davis (3-29-0) and Josiah Deguara (2-28-0) as rotational options and special teamers.

Offensive tackles

David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Yosh Nijman, Rasheed Walker, Caleb Jones

After an injury-riddled 2021 campaign, starting left tackle David Bakhtiari made his return to the lineup last week and played 35 snaps. Yosh Nijman rotated in and out of the lineup during the game in Tampa Bay, but he is expected to eventually transition into an OT3/backup role once Bakhtiari is back at a full workload.

The other end of the offensive line, meanwhile, will be held down by versatile long-time starter Elgton Jenkins. Rookies Rasheed Walker and Caleb Jones provide depth, with neither having seen the field so far this year.

Interior offensive line

Jon Runyan Jr., Josh Meyers, Royce Newman, Jake Hanson, Zach Tom, Sean Rhyan

The Packers have a young but promising interior offensive line. Starting guards Jon Runyan Jr. and Royce Newman have been with the team since 2020 and 2021, respectively, with center Josh Meyers also coming aboard last year.

Behind them, Jake Hanson is the fourth option. Sean Rhyan and Zach Tom, selected in the third and fourth rounds of this year’s draft, respectively, are developmental options.

Interior defensive line

Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed, Dean Lowry, Devonte Wyatt, Tedarrell Slatton, Jonathan Ford

As opposed to Green Bay’s interior O-line, its interior D-line has considerable experience. Starters Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry have all been in the league since 2016 and are productive players against both the run and the pass. Clark in particular stands out, having notched two sacks and tying the team lead with seven quarterback disruptions.

The depth behind them includes some talent as well, especially in the form of Devonte Wyatt: the Packers selected the Georgia product in the first round of the draft earlier this year. He has been limited to 23 snaps so far this season, however.

Defensive edge

Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Kingsley Enagbare, Jonathan Garvin, Tipa Galeai

The Packers’ outside linebacker group is also one of experience and relative stability. The top two at the position — Preston Smith and Rashan Gary — have been with the team since 2019 and have been quite productive. This year is more of the same: Gary leads the team with three sacks, followed by Smith’s two quarterback takedowns.

Kingsley Enagbare, Jonathan Garvin and Tipa Galeai offer rotational depth and special teams prowess.

Off-the-ball linebackers

De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Isaiah McDuffie

One of the main reasons for the Packers’ defensive success so far this season is the play of the linebacker group. Its off-the-ball fraction is led by veteran De’Vondre Campbell and first-round rookie Quay Walker. Campbell is the group’s leader, but Walker has also shown why he was drafted 22nd overall.

McDuffie’s impact on the defense has been limited; he is primarily a special teamer.

Cornerbacks

Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas, Keisean Nixon, Shemar Jean-Charles

Jaire Alexander is the Packers’ No. 1 cornerback, but his status heading into this week is in question. The 25-year-old, who signed a four-year contract extension earlier this year, suffered a groin injury against the Buccaneers last week and is not guaranteed to be able to play against New England.

In his place, Keisean Nixon entered the starting lineup last week: he moved into the slot with regular interior defender Rasul Douglas kicking out to fill Alexander’s spot on the perimeter. The other starting job, meanwhile, belongs to Eric Stokes who has played 100 percent of Green Bay’s defensive snaps this season.

Shemar Jean-Charles has played mostly on special teams thus far, but he would be elevated to the CB4 role if Alexander is forced to miss time.

Safeties

Darnell Savage, Adrian Amos, Dallin Leavitt, Rudy Ford, Tariq Carpenter

The Packers have five safeties under contract, but only two of them have seen defensive playing time so far. Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos are the one-two at the position, and a productive duo that has not left the field even once this year.

Dallin Leavitt and Rudy Ford have been used exclusively on special teams, while seventh-round rookie Tariq Carpenter has yet to take the field.

Specialists

Mason Crosby, Pat O’Donnell, Jack Coco

The special teams group around long-time place kicker Mason Crosby experienced some change this spring. Punter (and ex-Patriot) Corey Bojorquez left in free agency, with Pat O’Donnell being brought in from the rival Chicago Bears. At long snapper, Jack Coco was added as a rookie free agent before beating out incumbent Steven Wirtel.

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