Sunday, August 14, 2005

Preseason. Packers 10, San Diego 7. The first string offense looked good, except they had trouble running the ball. QB Brett Favre looked sharp, which had been an early season problem for him a couple of seasons ago. Favre was injured during a preseason game against Denver in 1999 and then he didn't play much over the next few preseasons to either avoid injury or recover from previous injuries. This cost the Packers the first game of the 2003 season when Minnesota won the opening game at Lambeau and Favre looked unusually awful in the first half of it; he used the first half to shake the rust off instead of doing it during the preseason. The last two preseasons, Favre has gotten more work in the preseason and it has helped him.

LG Adrian Klemm started with the first team ahead of LG Grey Ruegamer. Klemm was signed as a free agent this offseason to start at left guard, but Ruegamer started ahead of Klemm during the scrimmage against Buffalo. Rookie RG William Whitticker started with the first team, ahead of free agent RG Matt O'Dwyer, who had been battling some injuries this season after missing all of 2004 with injuries. O'Dwyer didn't play well when he did play in the second half and he was flagged for at least two penalties. The Packers didn't sign O'Dwyerfor big money, he signed for the veteran's minimum, so it would not cost the Packers anything to cut him if he is beaten out by Whitticker.

The Packers run defense didn't look good; the main problem is that they are letting running backs cut back or get outside for big gains. San Diego didn't have much success running up the middle, although San Diego only used their backup running backs against the Packers defense and star RB LaDainian Tomlinson sat it out. Hopefully this is something that can be improved over the course of the preseason.

Rookie 2nd round pick WR Terrence Murphy sat out again with his injured hip. He is probably a lock to make the team as the 5th wide receiver, but it would be great to see him play. All the receivers battling for a roster spot or maybe a practice squad spot haven't looked impressive so far.

The Packers gave a long look at QB J.T. O'Sullivan in this game and it wasn't pretty. He moved the offense into field goal range on the last drive of the game, but did nothing with his other chances against San Diego's backup defense. O'Sullivan doesn't appear to have any chance at beating QB Craig Nall out for the 3rd string job.

TE Ben Steele looked really good in this game. He made some good catches, including a key reception on the game winning field goal drive. He might be turning into a valuable receiver for this season, if he can hold off TE David Martin and TE Sean McHugh for a roster spot.

San Diego burned CB Mike Hawkins for their only touchdown of the game, but it looked like Hawkins played it perfectly. Hawkins kept the receiver in front of him, in the center of the field, and didn't get spun around by the receiver. It looked like S Todd Franz blew it and came in late when the receiver slanted in toward the goal post. Hawkins has been one of the big surprises in training camp and right now would be starting opposite CB Al Harris. CB Joey Thomas will probably start when he returns from his calf injury, but Hawkins has to be considered the 3rd cornerback, which is essentially a starter in the NFL today. CB Ahmad Carroll has to have slipped down to 4th cornerback; he was called for another illegal hands penalty.

The player who made the most noise in this game was rookie 6th round pick DE Mike Montgomery. Montgomery had the only sack of the game, was all over the field on defense, and even made at least two special teams tackles. The entire second unit defense looked energized; LB Paris Lenon made a couple of great tackles and LB Roy Manning looked very active.

Finally, P B.J. Sander has played so much better in the first scrimmage and preseason game in 2005 then he did in 2004. Whatever he has done to improve himself over the last two seasons, including a stint in NFL Europe, has really worked. His punts aren't long distance, but most of them have been high, giving the punt coverage team a chance to get down the field. Sander's problem last preseason was that all his punts were line drive 30-35 yard punts. His punts are only traveling around 35-40 yards but they have a lot better hang time.

No comments: