Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Preseason Packers 17, Cincinnati 48. It reminded me of the game last season on Monday Night Football at Baltimore, where the secondary gave up and made it look like QB Kyle Boller was headed for the Pro Bowl.

The first half started out bad with two QB Brett Favre turnovers, first a fumble than an interception. The turnovers weren't so much a sign that Favre is going to have trouble this season, but that the blocking isn't very good yet. On the fumble, S Dexter Jackson came through unblocked on the screen pass to RB Ahman Green, FB Vonta Leach was late to pick him up Jackson, which forced Favre to try and hold back the ball, but it slipped out of his hand. Then on the interception, Favre was hit immediately after he threw it. It appeared the defensive end beat T Chad Clifton. Clifton looked good during the first two preseason games, but he struggled and had at least one penalty called against him in this game. Everyone, from the rookie linemen to the veteran linemen, to the backs are having trouble blocking right now.

The first string run defense looked good, holding RB Rudi Johnson to under 3 yards per carry. The nose tackle rotation of Ryan Pickett and Kendrick Allen appears to be an improvement over Grady Jackson. The pass defense failed the team. CB Charles Woodson looked good earlier in the preseason, but WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh abused him. Houshmandzadeh caught two first down catches and a TD pass on their first scoring drive of the 2nd quarter. S Marquand Manuel looked even worse. It was Manuel's first preseason game, after missing most of the preseason and training camp with an injury, but he was involved in the coverage on the all three of QB Carson Palmer's first half TD passes. Manuel played way off TE Reggie Kelly for an easy TD pass. Then he took a bad angle and completely missed Housemandzadeh on his TD reception. Then he missed covering WR Tad Perry in the end zone. He was either overmatched or still recovering from his injury. If the season started today, S Tyrone Culver would have to be considered that starter over Manuel.

The Packers overhauled four areas of the team this offseason. The linebackers are looking better with LB A.J. Hawk always around the ball. K Dave Rayner and P Jon Ryan look good so far, with Rayner hitting at least one touchback (an unheard of event in the K Ryan Longwell era) and Ryan nailing a 60 yard punt and pinning one punt at the 10 yard line. The new blocking scheme appears to still be a work in progress, despite the starting lineup already being named, and the secondary does not look any better than last season.

The Packers made a few moves after the game, but none of the players cut were likely to make the team. It was surprising Ted Thompson signed a kicker after Rayner had a good game, but it does give the Packers a back up plan if Rayner falls apart in the last preseason game. One last preseason game to put it all together, before a big test week 1 vs. Chicago.

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