Final Score: Packers 16 Titans 20
What We Learned: The Starters
First of all, three of the Packers best players (Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, and Jordy Nelson) were held out of yesterday’s game, but don’t worry Rodgers and Lacy were healthy scratches and Coach Mike McCarthy says that Nelsons hamstring injury isn’t serious and thinks that it’s day to day. We will most likely see them suit up to play next week in St. Louis, and starting in place of the three Packers stars included Matt Flynn, James Starks, and Jarrett Boykin.
The game was played in a monsoon which is always disappointing for a preseason game. The difficult weather conditions make it difficult with ball grip and footing, and they have to be factored in when evaluating talent on the roster. In this case however, it only made the starting unit look more impressive. Even without their star players in the lineup, the Packers wasted no time and drove down the field to score a touchdown on their first drive. Lead by a great looking offensive line and tough running by James Starks, the Packers made the scoring drive look easy. Losing Don Barclay for the season to a busted knee last week will definitely hurt the depth of the O-Line, but the starting unit they have in place right now surely looks likes the best lineup in a while. The combination of Lacy and Starks behind the O-line this season is sure to impress.
The starting defense was arguably just as impressive, and it was also our first look into newly acquired free agent Julius Peppers. The sample size was small so we didn’t get to see much, but the starting unit made Titans starting QB Jake Locker look putrid. Granted the rain was heavy and affected all QB’s and receivers’ performances, and aside from being put in a bad position due to a special teams miscue, the starting defense did an impressive job in defending the pass and run.
The most interesting position battle on the Packers roster at the moment has to be who will be the starting safeties. Morgan Burnett did not play due to an oblique injury, so the starters this week included Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Micah Hyde. Both safeties looked impressive in the game, especially Clinton-Dix when he knocked the ball out of a Titan tight ends’ hands after getting beat on a go route. The eventual return of Morgan Burnett and the next few preseason games will definitely give a better idea of who will earn the start week 1 in Seattle.
What We Learned: The Reserves
Many fans may watch the preseason games just for when the starters are playing, but honestly, the most important points of the game are watching the reserves attempt to earn their roster spots or earn a starting position. Now it would take a while to go over all the interesting reserves on the Packers roster, but here are some backups that jumped out to me.
Mike Neal is definitely going to be someone to watch in the next coming weeks. He will be backing up both Matthews and Peppers, but from just seeing him on the field yesterday, he is really looking the part of a pass rushing linebacker. He almost made a play by when he had Titans QB Charlie Whitehurst in his grasp, but let him escape, something I am sure he is not going to let happen again given the opportunity. He finished really strong last season and signed a new contract in the offseason, so I am hoping that there are big things to come from him this year as well as recently healed Nick Perry.
Davante Adams was by far the biggest disappointment during the game, but that is because I have really high hopes for him. He is a second round pick, so there is no doubt that he will get a roster spot, but yesterday Adams had an opportunity to earn some more playing time by returning punts. After fumbling twice it’s pretty likely that he won’t get that opportunity again. It looks like Micah Hyde is the safest bet to be returning punts this season.
There is no doubt that the Packers would rather just have two quarterbacks on the roster rather than three, but former Badger Scott Tolzien is making that decision very difficult. Tolzien finished yesterday completing 8 out of 12 passes for 124 yards and definitely impressed in the wet weather. Given what we saw last season I definitely want Flynn on the roster, but Tolzien has the stronger arm and higher ceiling. I’m predicting that the Packers will keep three QBs on the roster if Tolzien continues to play well in the coming weeks.
One more player I wanted to mention includes running back Rajion Neal. He made some good runs averaging 7.8 yards per carry and broke away to score a 12 yard touchdown early in the 4th quarter. I’m not sure how many running backs the Packers will keep on the roster, but I really liked him at Tennessee and am optimistic that he might make his way to play special teams.
What We Learned: The Biggest Concern
The popular opinion regarding the biggest concern after yesterday’s game has to be the returning situation. As stated before Adams isn’t the answer and Abbrederis is out for the season with a torn ACL. There is no way Cobb will be allowed to be put at risk when it comes to returning punts/kicks, and if Hyde earns the starting safety position, the Packers run the risk of him getting injured as well. I’m hoping someone steps up in the next few weeks to earn the return job.
And with that these are a few things that I learned from the Packers first preseason game. The Packers did end up losing, but it’s the preseason so it doesn’t really matter. The year the Patriots went 16-0 they actually went 0-4 in the preseason, and the year the Lions went 0-16 they went 4-0 in the preseason. But now leave some feedback! Who impressed you against the Titans? Who disappointed? What’s your biggest concern? Leave a comment and let me know!