The Green Bay Packers opened their preseason schedule Saturday with a 20-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. Unfortunately bad weather will hinder some evaluations as the first half was played in a downpour. Here are the things I noticed.
The backup QB battle isn’t going away anytime soon. Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien looked pretty much the same as last year, Tolzien has the stronger arm and is able to get the ball downfield while Flynn dinks and dunks his way. Both led touchdown drives and neither threw an interception. Flynn’s playing time came in the pouring rain so that must be factored in.
The backup running back battle is going to be a battle indeed. Both James Starks and DuJuan Harris both looked sharp and newcomer Rajion Neal made his presence felt with some nifty running and a never-say-quit touchdown run. Starks looks bigger than last year and ran like a beast on the Packers’ opening drive.
At center the J.C. Tretter experiment appears to have gotten off to a good start. He certainly held his own and will only get better with more reps. I wish he was a little bigger though. The rest of the offensive line performed well too. Tackle Derek Sherrod looked good in his first extensive playing time since his gruesome broken leg three years ago. His emergence and the return of Bryan Bulaga has the offensive line looking good with solid starters already in Josh Sitton, David Bakhtiari, and T.J. Lang.
Elsewhere on offense I think the wide receiver battle will be a long one but to me Brandon Bostick looks very good at tight end and might be ready to replace Andrew Quarless at tight end. A big drop by Quarless didn’t help his case any. Rookie Richard Rodgers will also be in the mix.
On defense the Packers new look was on display. Julius Peppers didn’t play much but played both linebacker and defensive end when he did. If I were to pick an area that stood out it would be the secondary I think. Davon House made some plays. First round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made some plays. Sean Richardson continued his improved play. Casey Hayward played and survived without injury.
The defense didn’t get much pass rush until late in the game with corner blitzes so that is something to watch in the coming weeks. Clay Matthews didn’t do much in his short stint, nor did Peppers. We’ll see if they unleash them at some point in the preseason but my guess would be they won’t.
Overall it was a typical preseason game. Next week we should at least see Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy debut. Jordy Nelson may not be until the following week due to a tender hamstring. Head coach Mike McCarthy hinted last week that the public will not see anything the Packers are going to do in Seattle, so this could be a very ugly preseason. Which is fine by me.