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Minnesota Vikings 2016 Schedule Preview: Green Bay Packers

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Divisional Round - Green Bay Packers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We kicked things off in this series yesterday with a look at the Tennessee Titans, courtesy of our friends from Music City Miracles. Now, we move on to Week 2 (and, by extension, Week 16) of the Minnesota Vikings’ 2016 schedule with a look at the Green Bay Packers.

Courtesy of the folks over at Acme Packing Company, we have our first look at an NFC North opponent in this series. They did our preview of us over on their site a week or so ago. However, just so you’re aware, it’s the same thing as the Vikings’ preview over at Music City Miracles except for the comments section. So, without any further ado, here’s our preview.

Date and Time of Games

  • 18 September 2016, 7:25 PM Central Time, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 24 December 2016 (Saturday), 12:00 PM Central Time, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin

Notable free-agent additions

  • TE Jared Cook
  • OLB Lerentee McCray

Notable free-agent departures

  • CB Casey Hayward (Chargers)
  • DT B.J. Raji (retirement)
  • WR James Jones (FA)
  • QB Scott Tolzien (Colts)
  • FB John Kuhn (ascended to heaven)

Trades

  • Packers send Nos. 57, 125 and 248 picks in 2016 draft to Colts for No. 48 pick (OT Jason Spriggs)

Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies

  • DT Kenny Clark: With Raji retiring, Mike Pennel suspended for the first quarter of the season and Datone Jones moving to outside linebacker, the team expects Clark to play a lot early on, likely as the starting nose tackle or five-tech.
  • ILB Blake Martinez: With Clay Matthews moving back to outside linebacker, veteran Sam Barrington and rookie Blake Martinez will battle for the starting inside spot next to second-year man Jake Ryan. Head coach Mike McCarthy already praised Martinez for his minicamp work, particularly his coverage ability. With Barrington still recovering from last year's foot injury, Martinez holds the early lead. Even if he doesn't win the job, Martinez should play extensively in the nickel, dime and sub packages.

Biggest offseason addition

  • DT Kenny Clark: While Jared Cook garnered plenty of attention given the Packers' offensive struggles last season, Clark should end up playing a more significant role in 2016 and in future years. If not immediately, Clark should at some point become the team's new starter at nose tackle, a critical position in Dom Capers' defense.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp

  • Eddie Lacy's weight loss: After playing most of the 2015 campaign visibly out of shape, Lacy has worked this offseason to remodel his body. Though hardly svelte, the running back looks closer to his 2013-14 figure. If his production can also return to form, the Packers offense should avoid the inconsistencies it dealt with most of last season.

Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp

  • Defensive line depth: Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion have carved out niches along the defensive front, but the other starting spot as well as the depth behind them remains unsettled. Mike Pennel could become the starter at the five-tech once he returns from suspension, but until then the Packers have to decide between fourth-round rookie Dean Lowry, Datone Jones (who has mainly moved to an outside linebacker role) and a mostly faceless group of undrafted rookies and second-year players.

Notable injuries heading into training camp

  • Jared Cook's foot surgery: Just added this offseason as a street free agent, Jared Cook has already undergone surgery on his foot. Though he has expressed confidence that the situation should resolve itself by training camp, the offense could endure some hardships if his injury lingers. The Packers don't have another tight end with both his experience and athleticism on the roster, and they need as many big bodies capable of exploiting the middle of the field as possible.
  • Jordy Nelson’s knee: The Packers expects Nelson to return by the start of training camp, but after missing all of 2015 the team has taken a very cautious approach (you likely won't see him in the Hall of Fame game in August).