Friday, September 03, 2010

Packers drop final preseason game, 17-13

In a typically uneventful fourth and final preseason game, the Green Bay Packers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 17-13 last evening in KC. No biggie. Many starters were on a short leash in terms of playing time, and a few -- Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant, Charles Woodson and Chad Clifton among them -- never even hit the field. Keeping essential players safe is a main goal of the final game and not playing them is keeping them as safe as you can get. Good call, Coach McCarthy.

While I was providing real-time Tweets during the game (you can follow me, by the way, on Twitter by clicking the icon link in the right hand column cleverly labeled as "Follow Me on Twitter"), thought I would offer a few summary comments here.

So what can a Packers fan make out of the hodgepodge that is a game like this? It is an interesting game to watch, not for the quality of play overall, but for what individual players do. In that regard, a few observations:
  • Backup QB Matt Flynn is a keeper, and has really made a jump in level of play from last season to this. He started off a bit rough in the first quarter, but especially in the second half was very much on target. Showed pocket toughness and arm strenth. Clearly, he and WR Brett Swain have developed a great rapport working together as part of the 2nd offense. Fans should feel comfortable if Flynn has to come in to replace Rodgers for a game or two.
  • WR Brett Swain should clearly grab the #5 wide receiver slot. He was catching nearly everything thrown his way, had great route-running ability, and flashed least until he got a bruised knee at the end of the first half. After that, he appeared a bit gimpy on a 77-yard wide open pass play which, if he had been at full speed, probably should have resulted in a touchdown. Hopefully, it's just a bump and not something more serious.
  • WR and returner Jason Chery did not seize his opportunity. He put the ball on the ground three times, twice on the initial kickoff! As head coach Mike McCarthy said when asked about it, there's no way you stay in Green Bay if you don't hold on to the ball. Good luck, Jason. A lot of folks were rooting for you. Look instead to a likely return combo of Will Blackmon (assuming he can get back on the field) and Jordy Nelson. Not great, but steady. (Sigh)
  • DE Justin Harrell played. He didn't do much of anything other than be a body. He showed little push on any rush and appeared to be on the ground a lot. Still, most of the local sports guys that follow the Packers believe he will make the final roster, primarily because of his 1st round draft status and what coaches hope he could do if he stays healthy, not necessarily because of what he's done so far. As we all know, though, staying healthy and on the field has been his primary problem since college. What more can you say?
  • Punter Tim Masthay looks like the likely survivor of this summer's kicking competition. Not only has he punted well but he is also handling kickoff duties, showing a stronger leg in that department than Mason Crosby. If you can do more than one thing it certainly helps your chances of making the team. Welcome aboard, Tim!
  • Back up slots on both the offensive and defensive lines have some very good battles. There will be tough choices for the coaching staff here. Rumors are that T/G Allen Barbre will be cut and given an injury settlement and that Jason Spitz and Breno Giacomini may be trade bait.
  • Coaches apparently like first-year free agent TE Tom Crabtree but doubt that the team would keep five tight ends. The scuttlebutt -- for what that's worth -- is that he will be among the cuts, with the Packers hoping he makes it through waivers so they can grab him for the practice squad. One would think the same would also be true with 3rd string QB Graham Harrell, who has also shown some flashes during his play.
  • All LB Frank Zombo has done has been make plays. Lots of 'em. It would be sad if he got caught in the numbers crunch. I have to believe that he has certainly demonstrated enough to make the team. While the positions are different and area needs are different, you can never have too many good players on a team; given a choice, I'd keep Zombo over Justin Harrell. He's shown more in one summer than Harrell has in three seasons. Sorry, Justin.
  • Rookie offensive guard Nick McDonald has played well and got plenty of action last evening. He should be a keeper.
  • If the Packers wind up trading Spitz, they should feel comfortable with G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith who has performed well and who also showed the ability to long snap last night after usual long snapper Brett Goode was sidelined after sustaining a blow to the head. Again, the ability to assume multiple roles is a plus. The ability to play guard, center and long's all a plus.
Without looking at film -- which is somewhat difficult to do since I don't have access to film -- it's hard to say who else distinguished themselves last evening. Nothing was too obvious, that's for sure, other than what has been previously mentioned.

Keep checking back here for more as the weekend unfolds with the various roster moves. Or follow me on Twitter. Just look for "packfansunited" and you're there!