Monday, August 26, 2013

Preseason Recap: Who Stood Out During Their Loss To The Seahawks?

This was a big game for a lot of players on the roster bubble, but it was dominated by penalties. It wasn't just because of the refs, the players were getting in each others faces, and both sides were aggressive. The worst offender was Seahawks RG J.R. Sweezy, who was named their starter last week, and celebrated his accomplishment by committing multiple penalties and finding himself pulled mid-series by Pete Carroll. The Seahawks ended up with an amazing 182 penalty yards. 

The Packers had a bad game too, 69 penalty yards, but most of those came on three iffy 15 yard flags. Twice the Packers were flagged for running out of bounds on punt coverage, something I never see called during the regular season, and a hit by LB Terrell Manning on QB Brady Quinn that was close.

Offensive line. I didn't think Don Barclay could do it, but he's had a solid camp (second year in a row) and beat out Marshall Newhouse for the starting right tackle position. He hasn't had any breakdowns in pass protection this preseason, and that was a major problem for him before, so it's something to keep an eye on. I'm a little surprised that the first team offense didn't try to run the ball. The second team line didn't look good, again, as run blockers (Eddie Lacy went nowhere on several carries) but they did open up a big run for Alex Green. The most important thing is that, with the exception of Newhouse, the lineman have all been solid in pass protection.

Receivers. Jarrett Boykin would probably have the job locked up if he hadn't fumbled. The Packers need to keep two receivers behind the Big 3, but I wouldn't be surprised with any combination of receivers at this point. Who stays and who goes might depend more on what they've been doing in practice.

Tight end. I thought Bostick and Stoneburner had a chance, but both struggled (Stoneburner had a fumble) while Andrew Quarless saw his first action since 2011 and D.J. Williams caught all three passes thrown his way. Quarless and Williams should stick and remain the top backups behind Jermichael Finley.

Running backs. This was a weird game to evaluate. The first team offense didn't run the ball and the second team offensive line couldn't run block. Green had a big run, but is that enough to save his roster spot? DuJuan Harris started for his first preseason action and then he got hurt during the game. James Starks seems completely out of the picture, otherwise everyone else might stay if Harris's injury keeps him out.

Defensive line. It looks like they've got a lot of options. Johnny Jolly is back with the first team defense while C.J. Wilson had a great game. Datone Jones hasn't played much because of an ankle injury, but it would be a shock if their first round pick wasn't in the rotation. Mike Daniels is a high energy player while former practice squad lineman Jordan Miller had a sack. I haven't seen much from fifth round pick DE Josh Boyd. The criticism will be fundamentals from the backups, Seahawks rookie RB Christine Michael had a couple big runs when the backups over ran or lost containment. 

Linebackers. The starters looked great, though A.J. Hawk looked the same as ever, and second year LB Terrell Manning has looked much better this preseason. Robert Francois almost had an INT and rookie Nate Palmer had a sack. Mulumba didn't play (injured) and Moses didn't make any plays, but both have played well this preseason. Rookie Sam Barrington has impressed the coaches and played a lot this preseason. That would seem to be the roster, with everyone else looking for a new home. I'm still not sure what they plan to do with Mike Neal, maybe he's ahead of Mulumba but he doesn't really look like he can play linebacker.

Secondary. Free agent S Chris Banjo was recently signed and he might have made the team with a strong game against the Seahawks. He would be the fourth safety behind Burnett, Jennings, and McMillian while everyone else misses the cut. At cornerback, Micah Hyde continues to impress while Davon House seems to have rebounded well enough to cement his backup spot. Loyce Means had his worst game with a 15 yard penalty and a long touchdown allowed. Nixon and Smith are probably out of it.

Special teams. It's surprising to see them sign another kicker after Mason Crosby had his best game. Still, it seems unlikely that Zach Ramirez has any chance to win the job after one week of camp. It's a typical Ted Thompson move; while other teams are signing veterans to plug their kicking problems (Dan Carpenter in Arizona, Rian Lindell in Tampa) the Packers sign an unknown rookie. Ramirez was injured for most of his senior season in 2012, so he might be a surprise if he's now healthy.

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