Green Bay vs. Tennessee – Preseason Game 1
The first preseason game for the Packers is officially in the books. Today I will be taking who took a step forward, and who took a step back. My primary goals for this game was to see us play as many guys as possible, run as many plays as possible, and come out as healthy as possible. Unfortunately the two new guys I was most looking forward to seeing (Neal & Thomas) got injured. In any case, onto the list:
Who Took a Step Forward
JC Tretter – He separated himself from the other centers a great deal in live action from what I saw. He seems very confident out there and stayed with his blocks. I came away very impressed with the frontrunner for the starting center job.
Jumal Rolle – He flashed on Family Night and had another solid outing against the Titans. I don't remember a single thing Sean Richardson did last night and Goodson was up and down. It is a crowded position, but if I had to choose between any of the other rookies or 1st year players, then my money is on this guy.
Josh Boyd – The guy looks disruptive. He is growing into his role at defensive end and I see big things for Boyd this year. He is still standing out to me more than Datone Jones is. At least that is how I feel after what I saw yesterday.
Mike Pennel – When this guy was in the game, I noticed him, and I usually don't notice the nose tackle all that much. The backup NT role is up for grabs with the injury to Guion. Pennel showed me yesterday that he deserves more snaps.
The Back Up QB Position – Compared to where it was at this time last season, these guys look like world-beaters.
Offensive Line Depth - Remember how horrible that was last year? Well Sherrod, Adams, and Taylor were quite competent last night and gave our backup QBs and RBs some great opportunities. To stay competitive throughout yesterday's game was a testament to how much better our offensive line is this year when compared to recent years.
Who Took a Step Back
Demetri Goodson – It wasn't a significant step back from where he already was but he didn't really do much to warrant a roster spot at this time. He had a nifty pass breakup later in the game, but overall, I believe this is a practice squad candidate at best.
Carlos Gray – A longshot to make the team anyway, Carlos showed no disruptive force and seemed to be easily moved by his opponents.
Luther Robinson – You could tell whenever Pennel left the game, because this guy just doesn't hold the point.
Adrian Hubbard – The guy was a non-factor. I don't much changing. He looks physically imposing, but his play has not lived up to the hype.
Jamari Lattimore – I know he is not a new player, but he really stuck out to me yesterday as a guy who is not making the most of his opportunities. He looked slow and tentative out there.
The Tight End Group – Apart from a play Bostick, no one really stood out and commanded more opportunities. I was disappointed in the tight end group last night.
The Wide Receiver Group – They were lackluster as well. The coaching staff is looking for some one to step up and take those spots behind Nelson and Cobb. I didn't see a single guy really make a confident charge last night. Boykin in particular looks a bit off with his body language. Not sure if anyone else is picking up on this.
That's my look back at the game that was. Who stood out for you? Were they improving or taking steps back?
Before our beloved Green Bay Packers take to Lambeau Field for the final practice of the week, here is what I am looking forward to as Family Night approaches.
- I can't hold it in anymore… I am stoked to see Julius Peppers practice live in a Packer uniform. I am not a Green Bay local, so all I get are short clips from the press of him jogging around or kneeling with helmet on the ground. So full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Peppers (have been for years), and tonight is when it will finally sink in for me that the guy is finally on our side. Although I know he is in the twilight of his career, that does not diminish my excitement and anticipation at all.
- Will we see any surprises tonight as far as where certain linebackers line up? I hope so. The defensive staff has been talking about more packages and less plays since the off-season began. I am excited to get taste of what some of these packages will look like. How will Lattimore look tonight? Who out of the rookie class will flash before our eyes? The linebacker group is the one I have the most interest in during pre-season. I want to see playmakers make some plays. I want to see a liability for the past few seasons become a strength. Will we get a sense of that possibility tonight?
- Last year's Family Night was a somber one for the offensive line and the team as a whole. Starting Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season when he suffered an ACL tear. We can only hope that no serious injuries occur tonight, which is part of the reason why tonight is a glorified practice rather than a scrimmage. Bulaga has had a great first week and I look forward to seeing evidence of that tonight. Elsewhere, I am looking to see something more from Barclay. Can he make a push into the starting lineup? That may seem like an obvious no, but coach said he has earned the right to battle for a starting job, so bring it on I say. Most fans eyes will be on JC Tretter tonight. How comfortable will he look out there at a very demanding position? It is important to keep perspective on the fact that he is still developing in this role. His grooming is actually quite similar to that of EDS, and the coaching staff certainly has shown unwavering faith in him. Should fans be as concerned as they have been recently about Tretter? Perhaps tonight will help us answer that question.
What about you? What and/or who are you looking forward to seeing tonight?
This weekend the Green Back Packers embarked on their latest training camp in preparation for the upcoming season. Due to CBA rules, the first two practices are glorified OTA practices, and with the pads finally going on tomorrow, real football can begin in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Before that happens, here are some story lines I will be following during the remaining 19 practices of pre-season.
- Talent Overload at WR & TE
Not a surprise to anyone... the Packers are loaded with guys who can catch the ball, and of course having Aaron Rodgers helps significantly. 17 receivers and tight ends are competing for their spot on the 53 man roster. The coaching staff have their hands full giving out enough reps for everyone to show they belong. While shortened practice schedules can make it harder for new guys to stand out, there is certainly plenty of time for guys to take clear steps back. Colt Lyerla is on the fast track to not making it past the first cut as he has proven unreliable during the team's first two practices.
- A Vocal Leader Emerges
Mike Daniels is backing up his off-season talk of his desire to be a vocal leader on the defense. It started with some great interviews during OTAs and now we are seeing it in action. On the team's second practice he taunted the offense about what to expect once the pads come on and then continued to talk to his teammate Raji on the sideline. We don't know what he said, but word from the media was that it didn't look too friendly. Mike Daniels wants accountability and will make noise to see results. It is still too early to tell how it will resonate, but you have to love Mike's emergence as a leader on this team.
- Hayward & Hyde
The back-end of this defense improves greatly when both of these guys are on the field. Hayward and Hyde have both excelled during the first weekend of training camp. They are instinctive football players that our coaching staff plan to put in the best positions to make plays. I am excited to see them on the field together during the pre-season games. Hayward being and staying healthy coupled with Hyde's improvement defending in the open field could make this one of the most talented defensive backfields in the league.
- LB Spots up for Grabs
Clay and Julius appear entrentched as our starting outside linebackers, but training camp is just getting started. We know we will be seeing more packages and less plays so that probably means more linebackers. This changes the dynamics of depth charts by position a little bit. It will come down to who are the best linebackers inside and outside that we have on this team. Who are the most versatile? Lattimore is expected to be available and effective moving around formations and 2nd year player Barrington is expected to make that jump the coaching staff always talk about. How will Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba fair against new competition waiting in the wings. To me, linebacker is the most intriguing position to watch this training camp.
As pre-season rolls along, I will put out more blog posts covering the story lines and competitions that intrigue me the most, and as always, would love to hear your takes. Thanks for reading!