With the 2016 NFL season about to begin, FOX Sports Wisconsin lists the five most indispensable players on the Green Bay Packers' roster. Note: Players listed alphabetically.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety
Clay Matthews might be the biggest name on Green Bay's defense, but Clinton-Dix has turned into the best player. How integral is Clinton-Dix to the Packers D? He played in 99.7 percent of the team's snaps last year (combined regular season and postseason). He led the team with 100 tackles and also chipped in three sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Clinton-Dix is the steadying presence of the defense. Without him . . . well, Chris Banjo, a career special teamer, is listed as the backup.
APTony Avelar/Associated Press
Blake Martinez, inside linebacker
The Packers are giving a lot of responsibility to the rookie fourth-round pick out of Stanford, having him wear the radio helmet, and thus call the plays for Green Bay's defense. Joe Thomas is listed as Martinez's backup, but really, if Martinez can't handle the job, it will likely mean Clay Matthews might have to move back inside, which is obviously something Green Bay doesn't want to have to do.
APTony Avelar/Associated Press
Jordy Nelson, wide receiver
Think the Packers missed Nelson last year? The wide receivers never seemed to be able to get open, especially downfield (Green Bay only had six passes of 40+ yards in the regular season, and one of those was a Hail Mary). Only one receiver who had 10+ catches averaged more than 10.5 yards per catch last year -- James Jones (17.8), who is no longer on the team. Nelson averaged at least 15.2 yards per catch in each season from 2011-14 and was over 1,200 yards in three of those years. A healthy Nelson will go a long way in opening up the Packers' offense. We're about to learn just how much Green Bay needed him in 2015.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated PrPhelan M. Ebenhack
Aaron Rodgers, quarterback
This might be the most obvious choice of all time, right? After all, sitting behind Rodgers on the depth chart is Brett Hundley, a 2015 fifth-round draft pick who has yet to throw an NFL pass and was limited in training camp and preseason due to an injury, and Joe Callahan, who last year was playing at Division 3 Wesley. Without Rodgers, well, I'm sure you remember the 2013 season. But it is more than that. The Packers need Rodgers to be better than last season. Yes, he had stats which most quarterbacks would dream of: 60.7 percent completion rate, 3,821 yards with 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions. But his completion percentage, average yards per pass (6.7), yards per game (238.8) and QB rating (92.7) were all his lowest since he became the starter in 2008 and his TD percentage (5.4) was his second lowest. Rodgers returning to MVP-type greatness will go a long way in this team making a Super Bowl run.
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Lane Taylor, guard
Taylor has big shoes to fil. An undrafted free-agent signing in 2013, Taylor has played 30 games for the Packers in three years with two starts, both of which came last year. Only one of those starts came at left guard, which is now his home after Green Bay jettisoned three-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton. It likely will be sink or swim with Taylor. The Packers don't need to be Pro Bowl caliber, but he's going to need to be solid in protecting Aaron Rodgers and helping the run game. Taylor's backup is Don Barclay, who has primarily played tackle in his time with the Packers.
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