Our weekly “Chips Report” will always include two blue chippers (outstanding, exceptional play), two red chippers (good, though maybe not great) and two cow chips (dud performances). From the second preseason game at the St. Louis Rams…
- Defensive lineman Johnny Jolly––Jolly had his hand in two turnovers for the Packers on Saturday night, and put himself firmly in the competition for a roster spot. The first turnover came when Jolly batted a third down pass by Kellen Clemens in the third quarter, which was picked off by Jarrett Bush. The second came as a result of Jolly dropping into coverage and picking off a Clemens pass in the end zone. It might be too strong of a word to say Jolly is a lock to make the team’s 53-man roster, but he’s really, really close.
- Packers run defense––For a team that gave up huge rushing outings to Adrian Peterson and Colin Kaepernick, among others, last season, the Packers run defense has made huge strides. In the first half when the starting defense played a majority of the time, the Rams averaged merely 1.4 yards per carry. Even when taking the second half into account, the Rams only averaged 2.5 yards ypc the entire game. Kudos go to the Packers front seven for doing the dirty work that typically gets little recognition.
- Jermichael Finley––Finley led the Packers with 78 receiving yards on four receptions, three of them converted into first downs. Averaging nearly 20 yards per catch, Finley clearly looked like the threat the Packers have been hoping he would be. Without Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb available to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Finley was a primary target for Rodgers and got the job done.
- Eddie Lacy––Lacy looked to be over the hamstring injury that kept him out of the first preseason game and was very effective in his Packers debut. With 40 yards on eight carries, Lacy averaged 5.0 yards per rush on Saturday. The first-string offense included a heavy dose of Lacy in the running game and little of anyone else. And he did a good job keeping his legs churning and falling forward, in addition to grabbing one pass for 11 yards.
- James Starks––Starks carried the football three times for a total of four yards against the Rams, but the most glaring mistake was his fumble on a fourth quarter carry that went for negative-two yards before the fumble. Had it not been a defender stepping out of bounds before re-establishing himself in bounds, the Rams would have taken possession of the football. Considering Lacy has established himself as the starter and DuJuan Harris is working his way back from injury, Starks needs to step up his game.
- Brandon Smith––The first faux pas made by Smith was a lack of awareness on the punt return team when a Rams punt hit his leg, counting as a muff and subsequently recovered by the Rams. There was sufficient time for Smith to get away, but he showed a lack of football instinct. Smith’s second costly mistake came with just a minute left in the game when he was caught peeking in the backfield and gave up a 26-yard touchdown pass to Nick Johnson.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email email@example.com.