Five Up, Five Down from the Packers’ Preseason Opener

A look at some player trends from the Packers' preseason opening win over the Patriots. 

The Green Bay Packers opened the 2015 preseason schedule with a 22-11 win over the New England Patriots. After several viewings of the contest, here’s five players trending up and five others trending down as Green Bay prepares for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 of the preseason: 

 

UP

DL Mike Pennel: The 332-pounder still provides very little as a pass-rusher, but he gave the Patriots all kinds of trouble in the run game. On one play, Pennel drove the center back three or four yards and cut down the running back. On another, he split a double team to make a stop near the line of scrimmage. The Packers are now cross-training him at end, where suspensions will thin the position early in the year. It’d be huge if Pennel made a big jump in Year 2 and became a mainstay within the line rotation. In fact, it’s not difficult to envision him giving the Packers more meaningful snaps than Datone Jones. 

 

CB Quinten Rollins: The rookie corner won’t be covering the likes of Josh Boyce and Chris Harper during the regular season. Still, there was so much to like from his professional debut. He’s a cool customer, with the movement skills and play recognition of a seasoned veteran at the position. Rollins made three plays on the ball in coverage and also blew up two other plays coming forward in the flat (a closer look at his night can be found here). Defensive coordinator Dom Capers will have a hard time keeping No. 24 off the field if he builds on his impressive opener.  

 

CB Ladarius Gunter: The early star of camp was overshadowed a bit by Rollins, but don’t discount Gunter’s debut. He created a turnover with awareness of the situation—sitting on a hitch route on third down—and he looked more than comfortable setting the edge and playing the run from the outside. Keep making play after play and a team like the Packers will find a spot on the 53-man squad. The undrafted free agent from Miami is getting closer and closer to a roster lock. 

 

TE Justin Perillo: Rarely does it look pretty, but the second-year tight end always seems to find a way to get the job done. He fought like a dog as an inline blocker in New England, and his catch to move the chains on third down was much harder than it appeared. There’s no reason Perillo can’t make this team as Tom Crabtree 2.0. Hopefully the concussion he suffered on a big hit over the middle doesn't slow his progress. 

 

QB Scott Tolzien: Everything about the 27-year-old quarterback looks refined and improved. His arm strength, grasp of the offense and overall confidence all jumped off the screen against the Pats. Tolzien fit some throws into some tight windows and operated an uptempo offense with poise and conviction. The first two spots on the Packers quarterback depth chart can be written in stone. 

 

Honorable mentions: The Patriots couldn’t block Jayrone Elliott. He’s a preseason star…Defensive linemen Bruce Gaston and Khyri Thornton each flashed. Both need a strong preseason…Rookie linebacker Jake Ryan can play. The instincts are there. He’s just raw…Backup linemen Lane Taylor and Garth Gerhart can move people in the run game. 

 

DOWN

WR Myles White: Opportunities to make your mark are limited in a receiver group as deep as the Packers. White got a big one against New England when he beat the coverage down the far sidelines. He just didn’t finish. Tolzien’s rocket required some adjusting, but White has to make that catch if he’s going to force his way onto the final 53. 

 

OT David Bakhtiari: The Packers starting left tackle gave up two sacks and another quarterback hit over 30-plus snaps. It wasn’t a pretty debut. He then missed Saturday’s practice with a knee injury, which head coach Mike McCarthy made no mention of after the contest. There’s a possibility the knee was giving him troubles in New England. It would help explain some of the issues. You wouldn’t expect an experienced, third-year tackle to looked so overmatched against a rookie edge rusher. 

 

S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: As a rookie, Clinton-Dix often put himself into position to make big plays. The problem was consistently finishing the play. The same issue showed up again in New England, where he missed a few tackles while playing a little out of control. And the long touchdown run was at least partly his fault, as a safety is required to clean up mistakes from the front seven. He whiffed, and Jonas Gray rumbled untouched for 55 yards and a score. Clinton-Dix is Pro Bowl caliber, but he still needs some polishing on the little stuff. 

 

WR Davante Adams: Star players must have star expectations. Adams didn’t quite live up to the billing against the Patriots. He caught three passes, including a tough grab over the middle in traffic. But his two opportunities for big plays came up short, as he missed on both a fade throw and a scramble drill target in the end zone. Each would have been a tough play, but stars make tough plays. Still, his seven targets prove he’s going to be a big part of the offense. 

 

OT Don Barclay: Coming back from ACL reconstruction is going to be a process for Barclay. It appeared as if he didn’t trust his lower half in New England, often oversetting and allowing counter moves to eat him alive. Overall, he allowed two sacks and committed a holding penalty. He wasn't a great mover in space before the injury, so there's reason for concern about his future at tackle. But let’s give Barclay another shot or two at a live-game setting before we bury him. 

 

Zach Kruse contributes to Cheesehead TV. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

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Comments (17)

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 17, 2015 at 11:06 am

Overall there were a lot more positives then negatives in the first game.

I definitely agree with all the players trending upward. I'm glad you threw in Thornton in the honorable mentions because he did flash some ability in the game. The one play that still stands out to me was him running down a play on the sideline which he started on the opposite side of the field.

I would like to add a few players to the honorable mentions.

Brett Hundley. He performed very well for a rookie playing his first game.

Ty Montgomery. He didn't do as much on offense to stand out, but it was his special teams play that impressed me. He fielded punts very cleanly, especially considering he hasn't received as many PR reps in practice.

Also the 3 RB's competing for the 3rd spot all did nice things.

Overall it was a very good game.

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EdsLaces's picture

August 17, 2015 at 01:11 pm

I like many people have Rollins as my favorite pick in the draft. He did not disappoint in the opener. I loved the physicality and plays on the ball. I can't wait for week 2 because I want to see if he can do it again. And hopefully a good amount of big Ben and I believe Landry? Because let's face it ....Jimmy G (as I heard over and over during that game) looked pathetic. He under threw just about every ball (good luck those first few weeks pats).

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lebowski's picture

August 17, 2015 at 03:03 pm

Barclay was tossed around like a rag doll out there, and now he's practicing with the 1's at left tackle with Bak hurting. Dear Lord.

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4thand1's picture

August 17, 2015 at 03:35 pm

Better leave Kuhn in on the left side too. Barclay scares the shit outa me.

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lebowski's picture

August 17, 2015 at 04:22 pm

He was a serviceable right tackle a couple years ago, but man we gotta find a better swing backup.

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Idiot Fan's picture

August 17, 2015 at 04:00 pm

Adams took a pretty big hit early on in the game, and I was surprised that they didn't take him out and check him for concussion symptoms. It's possible that he was impacted by that hit.

Also, totally random, but I remember coming away from the game with the distinct impression that we were blitzing a ton (I haven't been able to watch the game again). The Patriots almost never blitzed, which I think is normal for preseason. If my memory is correct, I find it odd that we would do so much blitzing in the first preseason game.

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The TKstinator's picture

August 17, 2015 at 04:38 pm

I'm just thinking that GB was trying to evaluate the blitzing skills of the players involved.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 17, 2015 at 04:05 pm

Clinton-Dix would have to get just a little bit better to reach average. Sometimes I think our safeties were so bad in years past that folks forget what a good safety plays like. I'm hoping he makes a jump this year and becomes the above-average to really good safety I think he should turn out to be.

Have to laugh, 4th and 1, about Barclay's rag doll imitation and thinking maybe we should keep Kuhn for another year. You've got a point.

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aj's picture

August 18, 2015 at 12:41 pm

What makes you believe he isn't at least an average safety?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 18, 2015 at 11:26 pm

Primarily because he was a rookie, and made rookie mistakes, I would have given him a C- for last year. That is, I wouldn't call his level of play below average, just not a solid C. He ducks his head too much, takes the wrong angle and fills the wrong gap/gets washed out a bit too much. While he displayed some range, I'd like to see him actually come over and defend a pass thrown in the direction of one of the CBs more, something that is harder to do playing a single high S than Cover 2. Clinton-Dix had 6 passes defended and 1 INT during the regular season. By comparison, Nick Collins averaged 11 PDs and 3.5 INTs during his 6 year career, the first 3 of which did not knock peoples' socks off. Ed Reed averaged 9.4 PDs and 5.3 INTs per season. Dix was a big improvement over what we had as evidenced in the decrease in big plays given up.

I am not down on him, just trying to be objective. I expect Dix to be a good to really good FS in the NFL for the next 10 years.

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Dan Stodola's picture

August 19, 2015 at 12:28 am

I would call Clinton-Dix a better average than I would Bahktiari. And I think he has a much higher upside at Safety than Bahktiari does at LT. I see no reason to believe that Clinton-Dix won't average similar stats to Collins. He may not have as high a ceiling as Nick did, but his 1st 3 years will be much better IMO.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 19, 2015 at 01:33 am

Dan, I don't disagree with anything you wrote. And we both think Dix will be good to very good, probably sooner rather than later. I hope he makes a jump this year. Wish I would read that he is watching tons of film.

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croatpackfan's picture

August 17, 2015 at 05:08 pm

Nice article...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 18, 2015 at 11:57 am

I read a tweet (from Cheeseheadtv IIRC) that indicated Bakh was the 9th best OT in pass protection, but that his run blocking grade of -13 was just brutal. In any event, my eyes tell me he is above average in pass pro and terrible at run blocking, though I thought his run blocking improved after the bye last year.

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The TKstinator's picture

August 22, 2015 at 03:39 pm

Consume thine own feces and expire, ASAP.

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alex's picture

September 12, 2015 at 12:56 am

Yes

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