Final Score: Packers 31 Raiders 21
***UPDATE*** Packers’ center J.C. Tretter will miss “multiple weeks” with significant knee injury that was sustained on the opening drive against the Raiders on Friday. He is estimated to miss 5-6 weeks and rookie center Corey Linsley could possibly receive start.
The Packers finally came home on Friday and played their first game at Lambeau against Oakland Raiders. The third preseason game is normally the opportunity for the starters to receive extensive action by playing the entire first half or even into the third quarter, so for this post I decided to recap how the starters played on Friday and my expectations for them in the upcoming season.
First however, the Packers and Packer fans received some unfortunate news when it was learned that B.J. Raji will miss the entire 2014 season with torn biceps. Raji signed a 1 year, 4 million prove it deal with the Packers in the offseason after drawing minimal interest on the free agent market. Raji’s production has slipped since 2011, and he has struggled since moving from nose tackle to defensive end. Raji’s most successful years came in 2009 and 2010 when he played the nose tackle position, so the Packers were most likely hoping that moving him back to that position would repeat his success. It is unclear at this time if he will come back to play for the Packers next season.
Now regarding the game, the Packers offense started off strong by driving down the field on their first drive to score a touchdown and a two point conversion. It was the third straight game that the Packers offence scored on their first possession as they continue to build momentum for when they head to Seattle to open the season. Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers caught 2 passes for 40 yards while Eddie Lacy rushed for 36 yards and a touchdown on the drive.
The starters added two more touchdowns before they were finished which included 2 Aaron Rodgers touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson and Andrew Quarless. The tight end position has looked pretty strong so far this preseason with Quarless and Rodgers, and will only get better when Bostick returns healthy. The offense looks like it is ready for the season and I expect a top 5 ranking overall when the season is finished.
Aside from a minor hiccup when the starting defense allowed Raiders running back MJD escape for a long touchdown, the Packers starting defense also looked strong. They strung together multiple three and out drives and frustrated the Raiders receivers and quarterback Matt Schaub. Julius Peppers recorded his first sack as a Packer and added some more impact plays in the backfield.
The Packers corners were probably the most impressive of the night with numerous knockdowns and great coverage. Davon House has made significant strides over the offseason and is definitely competing for playing time with the top three corners. The defense also looks ready for the season, even with the uncertainty at nose tackle after the loss of Raji. If the defense can rank in the top half of the league this season (somewhere at least between 10th and 15th in the league) the Packers have a great chance at making the playoffs.
Now leave some feedback! Do you think the loss of Raji will be significant? What were your impressions of the starting offense and defense? What offensive and defensive rankings do you expect for the Packers this season? Leave a comment and let me know!