Cornerback Rasul Douglas knows, of course, that former Packers teammate Marcedes Lewis is one of the grand old men of the NFL, now 39 years old and heading into his 17th season. But that’s not going to change his approach toward Lewis when Green Bay heads to Chicago to play the archrival Bears—the team that Lewis joined as a free agent in the offseason.
“I’m gonna try to hit Marcedes after the play,” Douglas said when meeting with the media on Monday. “Y’all don’t tell him, y’all just can’t tell him. I’m pretty sure he is not watching me, anyway. Nobody is going to send (this video) to him. Marcedes, he don’t do technology like that.”
Douglas was joking, of course, but the Packers will face two Bears tight ends who were, up until last year, their teammates—Lewis and Robert Tonyan, both of whom signed one-year deals with Chicago. Both players had been in Green Bay since 2018, Lewis coming from Jacksonville and Tonyan via the draft. Both had been favorites of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and, like so many other Rodgers’ favorites, were swept out in Green Bay’s rebuilding process.
“Those two are our guys,” Douglas said.
Packers More Geared Up for Week 1
Seeing Tonyan and Lewis will be one of Week 1’s nice sidebars, but the main course is what will draw most attention—the debut of the new-look Packers, with Jordan Love under center. Because this is a young team (the youngest in the league, with an average age of 24.9 years), coach Matt LaFleur wants the Packers to get off to a good start this season, in hopes of building momentum.
That wasn’t the case the past two years, when the Packers muddled through training camp distractions, did not go full-bore in preseason games and, ultimately, got clobbered in Week 1—a 23-7 loss to Minnesota last year, and 38-3 to New Orleans two years ago.
“That’s why we played every preseason game,” Douglas said. “Coach made us play every preseason game because of the fact that we come Week 1, we haven’t played preseason, we kinda get blown out. That was his message to us this year, get us some reps. We played a series vs. Cincy, a series vs. New England and we played a few series vs. Seattle. He wanted us to find our rhythm out there and feel fresh we are asked to get out there, and not be like, we haven’t been against nobody but our team.”
Defense Hoping to Take Center Stage
Douglas also said that the new season could give the defense a chance to shine. They’ll need to, with Love now in charge and with rookies up and down the offensive roster. The defense was expected to be vastly improved last season, but that did not come to be. The Packers dropped from 13th in points allowed to 17th, with the rush defense primarily the culprit. The Packers allowed 4.7 yards per carry in 2021, which was 30th, and allowed 5.0 yards in 2022 (27th).
After having Brett Favre followed by Rodgers at quarterback since 1992, Douglas said it might be the defense’s turn to pitch in more.
“That’s how all of us feel,” Douglas said with a smile. “For the last 60 years—what, A-Rod played 30 and Brett Favre played 30?—the guys that control the clock, control the game, this year for the first time in a while, it’s gonna be the defense, we have the leadership and the older guys in the unit. It’s gonna be on us to go out and set the tone.”