For the first time since the XLV title, the Packers were able to celebrate a post-game victory. It wasn't always pretty, but it was a victory. While winning & losing isn't the main priority of the preseason, it's always nice to walk off the field as a winner - regardless of the situation. Next week - the roster must be trimmed down to 80 players. By my count, the Packers have 86 players on the roster. Thus, it's possible that 6 players will wear the Green & Gold for the last time this Friday. As of now, my prediction is that those 6 players will be Antonio Robinson, Sampson Genus, Adrian Battles, KC Asiodu, Spencer Havner, and Chris Donaldson. Chris Campbell is also a candidate. I'm unaware of anyone that could be given injury settlements and I'm hoping that Zombo will not have to be placed on IR.
A quick position by position breakdown:
QB: The preseason has made things interesting for the Packers at QB. Rodgers has been sensational in the no-huddle. How much of a role will this play in the 2011 Regular Season? Matt Flynn has looked terrific. I doubt anyone will make a play for him via trade, so expect him to be signed away as an UFA next year. Graham Harrell is making it tough for the Packers to move on without him. He won't make it to the practice squad. And, in some ways, the Packers have to keep him as an insurance policy for next year. He's growing comfortable with the system and as a QB, he played with great confidence. It's hard to imagine the Packers keeping only 2 QB's. It was super fun to see the camaraderie between Rodgers, McCarthy and Harrell as Harrell led the team to the final TD. When McCarthy bailed Harrell out with a timeout just prior to the play clock violation, Rodgers was there to welcome Harrell on the sideline. McCarthy gave Harrell a thumb's up. Team unity is abound at the QB position.
RB: With Starks injured, Grant saw enhanced carries. With that, we saw glimpses of Grant's old self. Since Starks is back practicing, I'm excited to see how Grant & Starks are utilized with both available. Alex Green! I really wish he could have found his way into the end zone on the screen. Beautiful run. Patient. The spin move to keep his balance! Bouncing off a tackler! Epic! Had to love TJ Lang reminding him to give the fans kind vibes via the Lambeau Leap. Never let a brother down, TJ. Green will never forget again. It was good to see Nance get to the corner. Though we didn't get to see much, Saine looks like a practice squad addition. While Green learns how to block at this schedule, look for Kuhn to be our 3rd down back. I still believe Quinn Johnson makes the roster.
WR: Jennings in the corner of the end zone. Get used to it. Double-D showing that he's still got it! Chastin West states his case. A week after West played a game in which he didn't look motivated, West played with complete confidence. With a vengeance. My brother Chad posed an interesting question: Jordy Nelson or Chastin West? All preseason, we've been reading about West. Last year, he looked to have the physique to play in the league. What trade value would Jordy have? If you believe in West and if Jordy has a 3rd round tag on him, it's worth considering. Especially considering that Jordy will be a free agent after this year. Let's hope Randall Cobb is healthy. In the first preseason game, he looked like a young Wes Welker. Tori Gurley showing that he's worthy of the practice squad. I keep reading/hearing that Borel has been impressive in preseason. To my eye, Kerry Taylor has been better than Borel.
OL: As a unit, the OL has struggled. But, congrats to TJ Lang. Now go out and show that you deserve the position! I thought Dominguez looked strong. Fitting himself for a run at a roster spot. I'm not going to jump off the bridge with regards to Sherrod. Been put in a tough position. He's not playing up to expectations, but I believe he has a future in this league. Without question, he'll need time to develop, but barring injury or poor play by Lang, he'll have a year to develop.
TE: GREAT to see J-Mike back on the field! YOTTO! What a weapon. I still believe that the Packers keep 5 TE's. However, DJ Williams inability to block has clearly stunted his development and the faith that the coaching staff has in him.
DL: Injuries have caused depth to be a concern. CJ Wilson and Mike Neal must get healthy. Lawrence Guy's health is also a concern. If Guy can't get healthy this week, it wouldn't shock me if he ends up on the IR for the year. The Packers might tuck him away. BJ Raji looks like he's Hawaii bound. Ryan Pickett and Howard Green are playing at a high level. Good to see Jarius Wynn playing with intensity and putting pressure on the QB. Injuries might be saving Wynn's job in Green Bay. Thus far, Eli Joseph and Jay Ross have not been deserving of roster spot consideration. I don't see them as practice squad additions either.
LB: After the Alex Green screen and the Chastin West TD, DJ Smith was the highlight of the game for me. While it was discouraging to see AJ Hawk and Desmond Bishop getting pushed around and dragged backward, it was refreshing to see Smith in pursuit. He showed great quickness. He was able to sneak his way into the offensive backfield. While he didn't always finish the play, he was in position. Clearly, he has terrific football instincts. Let's hope Zombo is not done for the year. It's good to hear that Clay is back. But, I'd take it easy with him and potentially shelve him for the majority of the rest of training camp. Walden is deserving of the starting spot. He earned it towards the end of last year when he was given a chance, but I hate to see it happen due to an injury to Zombo. Further, Brad Jones is dealing with injury. And, once again, depth is of high concern at OLB. So'oto should make the team. He gives great effort. I like his intensity. Good motor. I see him on the 53-man roster. Lattimore showed enough last week to warrant roster consideration. He's still ultra light for an OLB and if he doesn't make the roster, he's definitely practice squad material. Ricky Elmore is a stiff. If it weren't for depth concerns and the Packers ability to get through the final preseason game without having to play our starters into the 2nd Quarter, Elmore would be on my list of players who should be cut this week.
DB: It was sublime to see Sir Charles playing cat & mouse with the oppositions OL once again. The penalty on T-Mon was an injustice. I'm not concerned with the play of Sammy Swagga, but it was clearly the worst that we've ever seen him play in a Packers uniform. Nintendo Nick all over the place as he roams the secondary is always fun to witness. Really wish Morgan Burnett would have picked off the deep ball, but it was good to see him cover significant ground and make a play on the ball. Pat Lee & J-Bush continue to disappoint. With Levine & Underwood injured, M.D. Jennings has made the most of the opportunity. I was thinking it would be Bratton who would elevate. I was wrong. At this stage, Bratton might not make it through the first round of cuts. I have liked what Bratton has done, but he has yet to make a splash. He seems to understand positioning and angles. He understands where he is supposed to be on the field, but he hasn't been a playmaker. Instead, that's been Jennings. Jennings have been more physical than his size would suggest. He's been aggressive to the ball. He's making a run at having a place on this team - either on the roster or as a practice squad player. Underwood is back at practice, so it'll be interesting to see how many reps Jennings & Bratton get this week. Brandian Ross with a game saving interception in the end zone! How can you not be cheering for this guy? We've seen him twice. He's grabbed two picks. Sure, he got burnt a couple of plays prior to the interception, but it was a treat to see him in position to rebound. With regards to J-Bush & P-Lee, as I've said before, we've seen there best and in general, it hasn't been good enough. Again, thanks to both of you for your roles in XLV, but I'd be shopping J-Bush in hopes that I could get either an ILB/DL or a 7th rounder for him. P-Lee has no trade value. Josh Gordy continues to make the most of his opportunity. He's not going to go away without a fight. It's doubtful that he makes the team, but you have to appreciate his heart.
This week - the Packers travel to Indianapolis, the site of the 2011 Super Bowl. You can be sure that this is a part of McCarthy's pre-game speech. The White House trip is behind us. Yes, we still own XLV. We will forever. But, now, the sole focus is returning to Indianapolis for XLVI. Without Peyton Manning, don't expect the Colts to be much competition. Adam Schefter recently tweeted this: "Since 2005, the Colts have lost more preseason games than regular-season games (4-24 in preseason, 75-21 in regular season)." Soon, the Colts will be 4-25 since 2005.
Through 2 preseason games, the Packers have looked less than average. It's not cause for concern as the third preseason games, but it's time to show our might. The starting line-up is essentially set. No more rotating along the offensive line. Let's pummel the Colts. So far, Rodgers has been unable to generate points while conducting the offense out of the huddle. Against Indy, that will change. With the offensive starters playing throughout the 1st half, the Packers find both yards and points in abundance. So far, the defense has been far from stout. We've bit on play action. Beanie Wells ran with a mission. On occasion, Wells ran through defenders. Against Indy, that will also change. I've been envisioning a blowout for two weeks, but this week, it happens!
Rodgers finds his rhythm early. He stays in rhythm.
The connection between Rodgers and J-Mike is undeniable. They see the field together. Against Indy, in the first half, J-Mike grabs 5 balls and a TD. Rummaging through the middle of the field. Indy cannot cover him.
Again, Rodgers finds Jennings in the end zone.
Through two preseason games, the Packers have yet to notch a sack by a LB. Desmond Bishop changes that on an inside blitz. The starters have yet to force a turnover. That also changes as Burnett grabs a pick.
Flynn gets involved in the action as he gets the 3rd Quarter. Flynn finds Chastin West for good yardage. He connects with DJ Williams down the seam for a 1st down. He finds Alex Green on a screen. Finally, Green punches it into the end zone for 6 points.
For the 3rd week in a row, DJ Smith is the most aggressive player on the 2nd unit. His endless motor allows him to get sideline to sideline.
Davon House - the Rastaman - gets on the field for the 1st time. He plays with conviction. Plays the run. Finds the football in the air. Shows why it's likely that he'll be the Dime CB.
Brandian Ross continues his pursuit of a roster spot with another big play in the secondary. BOOM!
Graham Harrell comes in and solidifies a roster spot. Once again, he's looking toward Kerry Taylor. He finds Taylor.
Dmitri Nance is playing for a spot on another team's roster. Could he be dealt prior to the 53-man deadline?
Getting an extended look - both Lattimore and So'oto continue to play with a vengeance.
Sherrod plays extensively in the 2nd half. Playing strictly LT, Sherrod plays much better than he did in prior weeks.
The Marshall Newhouse at RT experiment continues - by default - and he continues to improve at his new position. Granted, he's still the back-up LT, but as mentioned previously, his versatility is vital to him being active on the Game Day roster.
Green Bay 30. Indianapolis 6.
We're playing like Champions in the building, which will determine the XLVI winner.
Go Pack Go.