Well training camp is here and here are a few variables I think will be very important, though little spoken/written about in the success of the team.
1. Recovery of injured players - And I am not just talking about whether Al Harris will be 100 percent. One of the most important players coming back from injury is Justin Harrell. With the loss of Johnny Jolly, Harrell has to get on the field.
2. Kick return position - Who will return the ball for the Pack on kickoffs this season? Sam Shields has all the speed, but has struggled fielding the ball. Will Blackmon has a great feel for the position, excellent vision and the "knack" for kick returns but has been injured constantly. Field position starts with the kickoff and an improvement here would make our high powered offense even more dangerous.
3. Will Mason Crosby be consistent - OK, this one has been talked about a lot and while I definitely think the Packers made a mistake by not bringing in competition, Mason Crosby with his strong leg in the windy Frozen Tundra is the Packers best (now only) bet. When the toughest competition comes along, the Field Goal Unit will be a factor in the Packers success. Will Mason Crosby be consistent? A lot depends on the Field Goal Unit as a whole. The successful execution of a field goal includes a lot of moving parts and though it is no excuse, Mason Crosby does not have the benefit of having a thirteen year specialist long snapper and the same holder for years on end (ie. Longwell) and this makes a big difference in his percentage because the Packers do not kick that many field goals. Look for the blocking to improve this season and the snapper/holder combination to improve. Then, it is time for Crosby to put up or shut up.
4. Special teams coaching - The only non-veteran coach at a major position is Slocum and he has some developing to do with his players. Will he be able to get the job done? Remains to be seen in my estimation. This will be very important to the Packers' success as well.
Well those are a few things thai come to mind and it will be fun to watch the development of a still young but somewhat more mature, hungry, angry Packer team. Enjoy the journey folks and Go Pack!