2014 Packers’ Preseason: Starters Impress but Raji Out for Season

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.

B.J. Raji of the Green Bay PackersFirst 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.Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay Packers

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.

Davon House of the Green Bay PackersThe 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!

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2014 Packers’ Preseason: Who Impressed In Week Two?

Final Score: Packers 21 Rams 7

Week 2 is in the books and it looks like the Packers are in pretty good shape. The Packers defeated the Rams 21 to 7 on Saturday, but like I said last week, it’s the preseason and win or lose, it doesn’t really matter. Unlike the regular season where the team as whole is held at the utmost importance, the preseason is judged mainly on the performance of individuals. So because of this, I decided to go over which individuals impressed in yesterday’s victory.

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay PackersAaron Rodgers- Basically goes without saying, but I like saying it so I will. Rodgers looked sharp yesterday in the two series that he played going 11 for 13 for 128 yards and a touchdown, while also adding 14 yards on a scramble. The starting O-Line was giving him all day to find his receivers against one of the best D-Lines in the league, so if this trend continues, it’s going to be a fun year to watch one of the best QBs in the league.

Eddie Lacy- Small sample size but was effective in the one series that he played. He totaled 47 yards on the ground and in the air, and showed that he’s healthy and ready for the season. With Rodgers back Lacy is in for a huge year as defenses begin to leave the box. So draft him on your fantasy team, you won’t regret it.

J.C. Tretter- Played well last week in Tennessee and just as well, if not better this week in St. Louis. Tretter was the only question mark on the O-Line coming into the season, but his play in the last 2 weeks have shown why the Packers let Evan Dietrich-Smith leave for Tampa Bay.

Andrew Quarless- He was the Packers leading receiver yesterday with 58 yards and a few good catches. It was nice seeing some production at the TE position as the Packers try to replace Finley. Combining him with Bostick and R. Rodgers should make for a good season at the position.     

Jeff Janis of the Green Bay PackersJeff Janis- Only caught one pass, but it was a 34 yard touchdown so that classifies as
impressive. Janis showed the breakaway speed he possesses when he caught a pass on an underneath route and  outran everybody on his way to the end zone. This guy looks like Jordy Nelson.

Davante Adams- Definitely improved from last week in the passing and return game. He caught
2 passes for 29 yards and also scored on a 2 point conversion
. He also fielded 2 punts and didn’t fumble which deserves a thumbs up after last week. He and Janis will most likely be competing for playing time this season.

Tim Masthay- I know what you’re thinking. Who cares about the punter? However this guy was something else yesterday. He was consistently hitting 50 yard punts with over 5 second hang times. That’s impressive.

Ha Ha Clinton Dix- Registered his first sack and continues to play well at the safety position. Not sure if he’ll get the start week one, but he has starting ability.

Brad Jones of the Green Bay PackersBrad Jones- Led the team with 4 tackles and did a good job in stopping the run. ILB is a position of concern for the Packers and they need him to play well this year if the defense hopes to succeed.

Jay Elliott- Basically made a name for himself in less than 30 seconds. He piled up 2 sacks and a forced fumble on back to back plays in the 4th quarter. He finished the game with 3 sacks and definitely caught the eyes of the coaches. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets earlier reps next week against the Raiders.

Honorable Mentions belong to the starting O-Line that impressed for the second week in a row by creating running room and giving Rodgers time to find his receivers. The defense also deserves a mention by doing a great job throughout the game stuffing the run by only allowing 2.9 yards per carry and also totaling 7 sacks.   

Now leave some feedback! Who impressed you in yesterday’s win? Who disappointed? What are you most excited about for this coming season? Leave a comment and let me know!

2014 Packers’ Preseason: What We Learned From Week 1

Final Score: Packers 16 Titans 20

What We Learned: The Starters

James Starks of the Green Bay PackersFirst 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 of the Green Bay PackersMike 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     

Micah Hyde of the Green Bay PackersThe 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!