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Chargers 21, Packers 13: Quick Hit Observations from Preseason Opener

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Chargers 21, Packers 13: Quick Hit Observations from Preseason Opener

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:

Disaster start

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.

House impresses

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. 

Comments (42)

Mojo's picture

MM did describe Bishops injury as a knee sprain so there's some hope.

The scrub WR's looked pretty bad to me. Maybe DD is a better option.

Kendra's picture

Wasn't everything a "knee sprain" last year, though? Sprains that kept players out for weeks?

I hope it's not bad but if I remember correctly, "sprain" is just one of McCarthy's vague-isms.

ebongreen's picture

Yeah, I have little confidence in that notation either. It looked pretty bad on the replay - that sort of "sprain" could mean "out for months and not back to 100% until next season".

Limehouse's picture

Well, a knee sprain is a knee sprain. An especially bad knee sprain can mean 6-8 weeks of recovery. A low level sprain might mean only a week or two out. Knee sprains are basically just stretching a tendon in there somewhere, and if it is bad enough it can destabilize and weaken the knee. A "sprain" is nothing to scoff at.

Charlie M's picture

Unfortunately, "knee sprain" is what they call a ligament injury of any kind. That includes a torn ligament.

IowaPackFan's picture

Jennings suffered a 'knee sprain' and missed the last 3 games of the season last year. All in all, probably didn't take any significant snaps until the playoff game week - so he really missed about 4-5 weeks.

Al's picture

Its absolutely hilarious that a few months ago people were yelling for Driver to be kicked to the street becasue we have these great new receivers in gurley and borel. Really?? Really people?? Driver is a legend in Packer Nation and you don't put the bull down that still has life in him.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Yep.

I bleed green more's picture

Agreed Driver looks so much better and he did not play last night.

CSS's picture

I have no skin in the 'how many receivers do we keep' game, but a helmet crown to the jaw doesn't exactly support a clean kickoffs catch for any returner. Borel is lucky his jaw is in tact.

Spiderpack's picture

Harrel did fine, he got the ghosts out of his system.

aussiepacker's picture

Alot of frustrateing things tonight, The fumbles, shitty tackling, droped passes, bad throws. But it is only pre season. I agree that at this stage there seems to be no need to keep six recievers. Harrell looked really shakey but improved as the game went on, will be interesting to watch him next week, B.J Coleman only had a small run but showed some confidence. Herb Taylor showed he will not make this team and House showed some skills. I thought Muir showed some good plays and might make the team. What did you think of the rookies?

cheesecurds's picture

i thought the tackling was worse than last year. And how many times did we fumble??? I thought those were two fundamentals we were working on in camp. Other than House and Harrel shining, we did not look our best...hopefully, that will inspire.

denniseckersley's picture

If Desmond isn't healthy by september 9th i am going to lose my shit

IowaPackFan's picture

All in all though, we're fortunate to have a somewhat capable stopgap in DJ Smith. Losing other guys would put us in a much worse position. Think Bulaga, Saturday, Matthews, Woodson, and a name which will go unspoken.

wtf's picture

Q: If House started and looked great, why was he still playing in the 3rd quarter when he got injured, after all the other starters were long gone?
A: So we can start Jarrett Bush from now on.

redcheesehead's picture

regardless of how house looked he is still a rookie. if you want him to be your starter he needs to get as many reps as possible to get used to the speed of the game and feel comfortable when the season starts. if he only gets a couple series every week how will you know he is going to be able to perform for the duration of the game or if he just was getting lucky?

lebowski's picture

Herb Taylor... not impressed. He's had 6 or 7 years, I believe, of offseason training and regular season games played against NFL talent, and he let a rookie in his first preseason game make him look silly. Datko at least played with some aggression against fellow second-stringers, but he doesn't look close to a left tackle either. Sherrod not even cleared to hit the practice field in any capacity yet... Newhouse is suddenly a very key player on this team.

redcheesehead's picture

would like to see us trade for a decent backup at lt actually wit how things are looking

Michael's picture

To be honest with you of the areas we can afford major injuries, ILB and cornerback are probably amongst the deepest positions we have. We have an actual quality starter behind bishop in dj smith, and house was one of several candidates for the cb2 position.

Look, is it good that they got injuried heck no; but it's a long sight better than getting those injuries on say the o line.

Nerd's Laptop's picture

-Harrell looked ok. Wasn't the best under pressure, but he was running for his life out there.

-JJ dropped what would have been the tying TD, in the end zone on a free play, iirc. Tsk tsk.

-Starks didn't acquit himself very well. I was a little disappointed in Green too. Why can't this team run a decent screen? It's not that hard. Another thing: why are they always trying to run behind HERB TAYLOR?

-Masthay killed it.

-Perry and Moses looked good.

aussiepacker's picture

moses looked good but that was a very poor attempt at a tackle on that san diego touchdown.

GBFaninCA's picture

It's hard to blame any of our running backs for not having a stellar night. They were consistently getting hit in the backfield, our O line looked horrible. Hopefully Sherrod can heal and be an answer for us at LT.

Jamie's picture

The penalty on the play deep to Jones was on GB, so it wouldn't have counted. I also watched it back and the CB held Jones' right arm as he went to catch the ball, so he had to try and catch it one handed...and almost did (though it wouldn't have counted).

I bleed green more's picture

Yes that is what I saw. It would have been bad enough to score and then had it taken away.

Wagszilla's picture

Everything was "fine" except the injuries and Starks' poor excuse for a performance.

I don't know what McCarthy is thinking having your potentially starting CB playing special teams in the 3rd quarter. House looked great though, let's hope it's not as severe as Tramon's injury from last season. Ugh.

Nerd's Laptop's picture

Same thing with Alex Green last year.

Let's take our hottest young future stars and put them in a situation where they are consistently getting busted up.

Great plan!

GBFaninCA's picture

Anyone else like what they saw in Coleman? I liked his pocket presence and demeanor on the field. Harrell is going to be #2 this year without a doubt, but give Coleman another two or three years with MM and Aaron and I think we may produce another starting caliber QB

Idiot Fan's picture

I'm guessing that they won't keep 3 QBs on the 53-man roster. I wonder if they'll have any trouble getting him to the PS if he makes a decent showing in preseason.

BrianD's picture

The defense looked bad and the offense looked worse even with the starters in. I hope things improve for the next preseason game.

Mike McCarthy cannot be pleased with his team's performance tonight, especially in the first quarter.

Aaron Rodgers is great but this team still has a lot to take care of before the regular season starts (running game!).

Khawaja's picture

Starks poor camp carried over. Even Starks is dropping passes now. Concerned about Bishop and Houses' injuries. Bishop is the only good tackler outside of Brunett, Matthews and Woodson. House looked great! Really impressed. I like DJ Williams too. But wanted him to replace Hawk. Tramon was awesome! Back to himself! LT is a huge concern. Better pick up some more depth incase Newhouse or Sherrod can't stay healthy. Cut Taylor if he doesn't perform after the next couple of games.

MarkinMadison's picture

I've been saying it for six months but I will say it again - do not hold your breath on Sherrod being a factor at LT this year. The most you can hope for is that he is in there and is serviceable by mid-season.

I agree that the OL was letting way too much into the backfield. It's like they think it is o.k. to take running plays off. I am still a doubter on Starks.

Jones did not get much thrown his way.

Tarynfor12's picture

There were a few good moments for some players but,thank God this was the 1st pre-season game as they looked like a 1-15 team over-all.
MM needs to make sure Rodgers doesn't get touched next game..ED-S to guard and Lang to LT while he QBs if Newhouse isn't back.Give Taylor his ticket home and don't waste reps on him ever again.

Cole's picture

Just as long as bish isn't done for the year I'll be relieved. Aj HAS to step up now. I don't mind house playing that long, but not on special teams!

Hands's picture

The Packer's solution if Newhouse goes down is Lang and bring in EDS or another guard. Taylor isn't the answer for any question.
I still wonder why Starks is having such a bad camp? His play last night was a poor extension of what sounds like is happening in practice.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

This is EXACTLY why they NEED 4 preseason games. With the abbreviated offseason, the young guys need every snap they can get... They need to play!

People wondering why House was still in the game: he's a young guy fighting for a starting job. The coaches need to see these guys "play". No problem with that whatsoever.

Perry, Moses and House flashed. Starks looked terrible. Graham was bad early but seemed to settle in a bit just before half. Coleman showed a strong arm and some fire in the huddle, I liked it.

All in all, the only thing I'm concerned about is health. This team just needs to play, especially the young guys.

GBP 4 LIFE

PackersRS's picture

+1

Idiot Fan's picture

Yep. And let's not be too hasty on declaring who needs to be cut based on that performance. A few years ago I would have cut Woodson after his first preseason game with us...

Lucky953's picture

Coleman was too excited, but wow! he's got a strong arm. The difference in velocity between him and Harrell was really striking.
As everyone said House looked really good. Perry is a very strong, fast young man who is going to give tackles fits this year. Heyward needs a lot of work. None of the young safeties looked very good. Maybe too many combinations and lack of communicating coverages but it looked scarily like 2011 with receivers open all over the field.
I loved the energy and hustle that Dan Muir brought to the game. Hey did anyone else see Mike Neal in there at the end? Looked like he had some real inside push in the pass rush.

woodson4president's picture

House n perry played well,but did nobody notice dj smith? He was bustin heads last nite! I love bishop,but dj needs in the game anyways! Oh and m.d. and hayward....sadly im not impressed. (But it was caseys first nfl game)

Cole's picture

Thought Heyward did fine for first time out. He's going to be very good. On MD we have to remember that was Antonio Gates, a healthy Gates, the best tight end in the league over the last ten years.

TXCheese's picture

Have to admit, that was not mid-season form for either side of the ball, but it shouldn't be. But did you notice how much faster the defense was last night. I think the secondary is gonna be awesome later this year. Give these young guys some time!

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