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Packer Report Card: Preseason Game 2

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Packer Report Card: Preseason Game 2

The Packers hosted the Arizona Cardinals on August 19 for their second preseason game, and came out on top 28-20 with no serious new injuries of note.  CD Angeli takes out his red pen and gives the squads their grades.

Passing Offense: B

Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, and even Graham Harrell came into the game and had incredibly efficient, mistake-free games through the air.  Rodgers may want to beat himself up over his failed third-and-long, but if that’s the biggest mistake of the game by our quarterbacks, I’m willing to live with it.  The Packers’ first-stringers have managed a touchdown drive to Greg Jennings in each of their first two preseason games, but needed to be in the two-minute offense to do it.  I’m not worried yet, but I would like to see a sustained, clock-eating drive before we hit the regular season.  What brought this grade down was the bullfighter blocking that has led to nine sacks the Packers have endured in two games.  While there were guilty parties all around, it’s becoming clear that the Derrick Sherrod experiment should be over at guard, and perhaps should just focus on crafting his trade behind stalwart veteran tackle Chad Clifton.  Still, too early to panic on the line, as players were shuffling left and right all night.  Let’s see how they do when they are set in their spots.  Chastin West may have sealed up the sixth WR spot with a stellar game.

Passing Defense:  B-

Overall, you can’t get too worried about the pass defense at this point, but there were enough gaffes in the backfield that should have Dom Capers busy this week.  Yes, we’re perfectionists who have grown to expect an interception for a touchdown on nearly every play, and holding the Cards to six points at halftime should be satisfying.  But, the Cards converted six third-down situations through the air yesterday, many of them long passes that caught defenders out of position.  Some, like Fitzgerald’s circus catch or Tramon Williams’ phantom interference call were unavoidable.  But missed tackles….BAD missed tackles, like the whiff by Sam Shields on an out pattern, or Jarius Wynn’s grabbing air on a sack attempt…are things that, in Mike McCarthy’s words, “have to get cleaned up.”  The Packers did a good job forcing the Cardinals into 13 third downs in this game, but big plays through the air kept those drives going, the clock ticking, and our defense on the field.  Really warming back up to Morgan Burnett’s hard-nosed play at safety, and M.D. Jennings made his case to be considered for at least a practice squad spot, if not the final 53.

Rushing Offense:  B

Ryan Grant finished with 23 yards on five carries, but I couldn’t help but get the feeling he was zigging when he should have zagged on a couple of rushes.  Obviously, he’s missed a lot of time and needs to shake the rust off, but watching him turn a run back inside and right into a tackler made me shake my head a bit.  In the absence of James Starks, Alex Green got his first opportunity in the backfield and didn’t disappoint.  He picked up a screen pass and ran with authority for 25 yards, then put the ball in from the goal line.  As long as he stays healthy, I have a hard time not seeing him making the team and contributing this year, especially if he improves his pass blocking.   Dimitri Nance made sure we didn’t forget him with 28 yards.  The same cannot be said for the other backup running backs on the roster.

Rushing Defense:  C

The loss of Cullen Jenkins and absence of Mike Neal and Clay Matthews allowed Beanie Wells and to break past the first level on a couple of occasions, compiling 44 yards on eleven carries.  When Wells ran into the heart of the line, BJ Raji and Ryan Pickett were able to pile him up, but as he ran off-tackle, our linebackers were running laterally to catch up downfield (and on more than one occasion, being pushed backwards by blockers).  Wells tallied good yards on first and second downs on both of their first-team’s field goal-scoring drives, which also took over fourteen minutes off the clock.  Between the third-down conversions and allowing opponents to control the clock, the defense needs to kick it up a notch as we go through the rest of the preseason.

Special Teams:  B+

Tim Masthay is kicking lights-out this preseason, dropping two of his five punts inside the 20 and averaging 46.6 yards per kick.  He’s really looking like a weapon in field position for the Packers this year.  Mason Crosby had no field goal attempts, but his kickoffs seemed to sail further and further back into the end zone on each try.  Moving the kickoffs up to the 35-yard line looks like we’re going to get a return on that strong leg Ted Thompson drafted.  Randall Cobb looked extremely fluid on returns, catching the ball on the run out of the end zone and instinctively looking for his blockers.  I would have liked to see those blockers open some better holes for him, as he still only managed to get back to the 20-yard line or so each time.  My heart broke for Diondre Borel, who just couldn’t seem to get his feet under him on his returns, then fumbled it away on top of it.  He may not get another opportunity.

Overall: Inc.

Yes, this is going to be my grade throughout the preseason.  You really can’t give a solid grade for coaching and overall performance when the end goal isn’t necessarily to win the game.  McCarthy has used the first two weeks to rest players and shuffle many others around, so his goal is to evaluate and come out healthy at the end.  The two injuries of note, backup defensive lineman C.J. Wilson and Cobb, are looking to be minor ones…luckily for the Packers, who really can’t afford more losses along the defensive line.  There’s a lot of similarities between Cobb and Ryan Williams of the Cardinals: both were drafted in the second round this year at a position of depth, yet were exciting young players with high hopes of contributing as rookies.  They both suffered knee injuries yesterday, but that’s where the similarities end:   Williams was carted off the field with a season-ending ruptured patellar tendon, while Cobb’s knee bruise has us all breathing a sigh of relief.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

ibleedgrnngold's picture

Derrick Starks is a lock for the 53

CD Angeli's picture

Just caught that. Grazi.

jeremy's picture

"Tramon Williams’ phantom interference call"

When I saw that one I thought it is definitely preseason for the officials too.

Chris K's picture

Alex Green is a lock for the finnal 53, nah really?? He's a third round pick-we know this

foundinidaho's picture

See? No panic about the offense. It's preseason, stupid. (Not you CD, just sayin'.)

Mojo's picture

CD mentioned #37 and I'm concerned a little by Sam Shields play. He seems to be getting burned a few times each game. He's someone who could have used the mini-camps. I think during the regular season oppenents will be targeting Sam be ready. Don't know why teams didn't go after him more last year.

I think the coaches will keep Lang at LG going forward. They've been trying to condense all the previous work they normally would have got in into this camp. The experimenting is probably over and Lang should get the reps he needs.

Could Tim Masthays foot bring some respectablity to the ST's? Less line drive short kicks than in the past should make everyone look better.

CD Angeli's picture

Tell you what, Mojo...I think the Packers have the pieces of the puzzle with Masthay and Cobb. The problem is going to be whether or not Mr. Slocum can convince the other 10 guys to do their job to allow them to shine.

R MaN's picture

I Agree on Slocum LA..

PackerT's picture

The Sherrod experiment at LG is over.

PackersRS's picture

Regarding the overall grade on preseason games CD, to me, every time there isn't a major injury on our side, it's A+.

Only 2 or 3 positions that will affect us this season are being evaluated. Unless, like last year, there's a series of injuries, the rest of the players are being evaluated with focus on the future of the squad, not the present.

So, for this season, the most important thing we can take out of the preseason games is a healthy squad.

PackersThad's picture

I've only seen the replay of the Chastin West TD, but according to what I've seen, he pretty much ran a fly route and the corner never even touched him. What else would make the Packers keep 6 receivers on a team with such depth?

Can he break out of a bump off the line? Can he block? Is he good to play on special teams?

Jay's picture

I've with Thad. That TD isn't enough to convince me that he deserves a spot either.

CD Angeli's picture

I think a lot of it will come down to numbers. I don't think the Packers are going to keep 3 FB and 4 TE again. In fact, I can see them keeping just Kuhn and using 3 TEs in more of a hybrid H-back formation.

And, while I agree that the WR are likely at 5, there's a chance they keep 6 this year. Who predicted the 7 FB/TE last year?

PackersRS's picture

While I completely agree with this, it's more than just 1 TD in a preseason game. It's how he has fared last year on the PS squad, it's how he practices, how he handles the film room etc... Then, with him producing in games, it's an indicament that it's not just on shorts that he can play.

CD Angeli's picture

West has been getting rave reviews from training camp. Now, I understand that performing with the second string in preseason doesn't equal a roster spot (see: Tyrell Sutton), but my point is that if the Packers were to keep 6 WR (or if an injury did force the Packers to keep an extra 5th), I think West is at the top of the pack.

PackersThad's picture

Your last statement just became more real than we might've thought....DAMN


PackersThad's picture

And just to clarify, I wasn't hating on West. I just missed this game so I'm only going on the one replay I saw and then word of mouth. I want what is ABSOLUTELY best for the Packers, so if Chastin West cannot be cut, I'm happy to hear it!

My point is because of the depth on this team, fringe players on offense and defense are not only battling their position mates, but each other for those final 2 or 3 spots. They've got to bring a lot to the table!

MarkinMadison's picture

I'm 100% sure that "indicament" is not a word. It is, however, a very impressive sounding collection of letters, PackersRS. :-)

PackersRS's picture

As always, it is in portuguese. It's my excuse and I'm sticking to it ;)

tundravision's picture

Agreed. And the last thing I want to be prophetic about is an injury to Cobb. Trust me. #hugefan

MarkinMadison's picture

It was nice to be at Lambeau. Green was interesting. A lot of sizzle, but looked like he was literally bouncing off of guys when making a block in pass pro.

Let's see how West looks against a first-string defense next week. That said, there's another path to keeping West besides going 6 WR - trading a WR on the roster. Nelson could be great trade bait. The target would be a quality back-up DL or ILB. I can't say that there is a match out there. But it would eliminate the need to dole out another WR contract this/next year. Just thowing it out there.

I'd like to see what a year on the practice squad would do for Borel. With the fumble on tape for the world to see he can probably make it there.

I know there's talk that some teams are hoping to pin the kickoffs inside the 15-yard line instead of going for the touchback. Given our coverage units, and Crosby's personal strenghts and weaknesses, I sure hope Slocum does not play with that idea. Time to swing away.

Sherrod. Not. Ready. Won't be by September. Nuf said.

tundravision's picture

Mark, I was sort of alluding to that in the piece, but didn't want to come out and suggest Ted Thompson was going to trade someone away...really hasn't happened yet. Doesn't mean it isn't going to happen...who saw the massive trade-up for CM3 coming?

I was also kind of alluding to the possibility that Grant may end up being expendable if Starks/Green/Nance prove to be formidable enough, but didn't want to say it aloud. Oh crap, I just did...

MarkinMadison's picture

LOL. Could, should and will. All three very distinct words where TT is concerned. Nance made me look up his number. DL and ILB (in that order) are just the only shallow spots on this team right now.

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