NFL preseason games are tough when evaluating a team’s championship aspirations. The starters play the first quarter, the reserves play the second and some third, and the “no-chance” players get in the fourth. So there’s a limited amount of time to make accurate judgments.However, after Thursday night’s Green Bay’s 22-11 victory over defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, here are a few early observations about the 2015 Packers:

Aaron Rodgers is ready for the regular season. Now in his 11th season, Rodgers was 11 of 19 for 76 yards, and after a couple early stops by the Patriots, drove the Pack 79 yards in 15 plays that ended with a Mason Crosby 25-yard field goal.

The 31-year-old Rodgers was laughing and having fun, and appears in top shape. If he can stay healthy (fingers crossed) it’s another MVP season.

Rodgers’ back-up, Scott Tolzien, also looked sharp for the first game, completing 10 of 16 for 102 yards including a 26-yard TD pass to Jeff Janis, who has the speed to be an impact player, along with Dante Adams and Myles White backing up Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Rookie Ty Montgomery showed good hands and looked comfortable returning punts.

The tight end situation is worrisome. Richard Rodgers, Andrew Quarless and Justin Perillo are listed 1-2-3 on the depth chart, but the trio is far from striking fear in their opponents. Quarless had two catches against the Patriots, but dropped one and came up a yard short on a third-down catch, while Perillo had two catches and Rodgers one.

With more teams expected to try two-point conversions this season, due to a rule change that moves the ball from the 2 to the 15-yard line for a 33-yard, one-point attempt by the kicker, the tight end will become even more valuable (two-pointers are still attempted from the 2). Against New England, the Packers were 0 for 3 in two-point conversions and 1 for 3 in fourth-down conversions.

Until they can find that big, sure-handed tight end that makes you forget about Jermichael Finley, they could struggle.

Furthermore, Green Bay ranked 11th last season in red zone scoring at 57%, which was actually an improvement over 2013 (51%). But everyone remembers how the Packers failed to score touchdowns on its first few possessions against Seattle in the NFC Championship game, which proved disastrous.

Signing a big-time tight end for Aaron Rodgers should be at the top of the organization’s wish list.

Defensively the Packers played well with the exception of a second quarter 55-yard TD burst by Jonas Gray who ran untouched. But, again, with Tom Brady playing only the first quarter and several other Patriots impact starters sidelined, it was tough to get an accurate gauge. The Packers’ reserves certainly outplayed the Patriots reserves in the second half with seven sacks of backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo and a team-leading eight tackles by second-year linebacker Jayrone Elliott.

Next game: Sunday, Aug. 23, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (12:00 CST).

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