The Green Bay Packers kicked off their 2012 preseason schedule with a loss to the San Diego Chargers, 21-13.
Here are some quick hit observations from Thursday’s preseason opener:
The first 20-25 minutes of the first half were a complete disaster. Some rust is to be expected to kick off the preseason, and most will brush off the start as meaningless in terms of the grand picture. But the Packers starters had very little positive to lean back on Thursday night. The final score means nothing, but the early execution on both sides of the ball was poor by anyone’s standard. Execution is all that matters in the preseason, and the Packers didn’t have it with its first group.
Left tackle problems
If the Packers learned anything Thursday night, it’s that this offense can’t survive with Herb Taylor playing left tackle. Rookie Melvin Ingram beat Taylor like a dead horse. He simply doesn’t have the foot quickness to handle NFL quality defensive ends on a down-to-down basis. Marshall Newhouse, who missed Thursday’s contest with a concussion, can’t return to the Packers starting lineup soon enough. Taylor’s effort also puts an importance on Derek Sherrod (broken leg) getting healthy and back into the fold.
Second-year cornerback Davon House, who started opposite Tramon Williams, was one of the standouts Thursday night.
On the Packers first defensive series, House blanketed Malcolm Floyd up the far sideline on third-and-4 and broke up a pass from Philip Rivers. It was impressive coverage. Later in the first half, House made back-to-back tackles in the run game, including an aggressive stop in run support for a three-yard loss. The tackle was the kind of play that Sam Shields could never dream of making in the run game. It was surprisingly Charles Woodson-esque.
Only one preseason game in, House clearly has the edge in the battle to start opposite Williams.
One note: House left Thursday’s game with an apparent shoulder injury. He walked off on his own power in the third quarter and left for the locker room.
Why six receivers?
There’s a lot of ball game left, but Diondre Borel did little to build on his case to be the Packers’ sixth receiver. Borel fumbled away a kickoff in the first half and caught just three passes for 13 yards. While most beat reporters have continued to say Borel is ahead of Tori Gurley for the sixth receiver spot, I’m not certain either have done enough so far for the Packers to even consider keeping more than five at the position. The next couple of weeks will decide whether Borel and Gurley are going to be a part of this team, or if both are going to be looking for work elsewhere.
Extended look for Harrell
Rodgers came out late in the first quarter, leaving backup Graham Harrell with a long look. Harrell played well into the fourth quarter, leading two touchdown drives in 10 tries. He finished 15-of-27 for 135 yards and one touchdown (81.6 passer rating). Harrell’s arm strength is clearly improved, but his pocket awareness and creativeness still leave a lot to be desired. He’s certainly no Rodgers or Matt Flynn in that regard. Hopefully reps in live action will continue to help alleviate that problem. It wasn’t a performance that spawned any new confidence in Harrell, but it didn’t kill any either.
Injury note: Desmond Bishop had a bad-looking knee injury in the first half. McCarthy didn’t sound very optimistic in his post-game press conference. We’ll keep you up to date on this injury as information comes available.