Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 Preseason Week 4 - Packers/Chiefs Review

With the fourth and final preseason game in the books, here are the big picture takeaways from the Packers/Chiefs game:

#1) Player that hurt his stock most: With wide receivers Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb guaranteed roster spots there is a slim chance that the Packers keep a 6th wide receiver. When Shaky Smithson fumbled a punt against the Chiefs, he guaranteed that he would not be the 6th wide receiver. The only other wide receivers with a slight chance to make the 53-man roster are Tori Gurley and Chastin West. Both Gurley and West showed great potential throughout the preseason so look for the Packers to try to sign both players to their 8-man practice squad if they are not claimed by another team.

#2) Player that helped his stock most: As I said last week in my quick thoughts about the Packers/Colts game, the backup outside linebacker spots are completely up for grabs. After 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a pick-six against the Chiefs it is no longer a question of whether Vic So'oto makes the team. The real question is how many outside linebackers the Packers keep. Matthews, Walden, and Zombo (assuming he is not placed on IR) are guaranteed roster spots. After how well So'oto played the last few weeks he deserves to be the 4th outside linebacker. If the Packers decide to keep five outside linebackers, it will be a battle between Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore for the final outside linebacker spot. That means with Matthews, Walden, Zombo, So'oto, Jones, and Lattimore all ahead of Ricky Elmore on the depth chart he would be lucky to make the practice squad at this point.

#3) Position to watch: The Packers have a plethora of talented players at a number of positions (running back, fullback, wide receiver, tight end, outside linebacker, cornerback, and safety). Unfortunately that is not the case for the interior part of their line. Starters T.J. Lang (LG), Scott Wells (C), and Josh Sitton (RG) did pretty well throughout the preseason. Unfortunately if any of the interior lineman are lost for an extended period of time, things look bleak. The Packers have to decide between keeping two of the following four guys: Evan Dietrich-Smith, Nick McDonald, Caleb Schlauderaff, and Ray Dominguez. All of those guys have proven that they are replaceable so if the right guys are waived, the Packers could fill their interior line spots with players currently not with the organization while the younger guys (McDonald, Schlauderaff, and Dominguez) have a chance to make the practice squad if they are cut.

#4) Injury: Luckily rookie 4th round draft pick Devon House was the only player injured against the Chiefs, the extent of the injury is unknown.

Final Note: The Packers sat most of their veterans while the Chiefs played their veterans for most of the game. I am glad the Packers got through the preseason without suffering any major injuries but since the lockout took away precious practice time, I can't blame the Chiefs for playing their starters deeper into the game. That is really a win-win for the Packers too because it allowed the Packers backups to play against the Chiefs starters.

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has some very tough decisions to make by Saturday night when he needs to cut the roster to 53 players. Check back Sunday morning for my initial player rankings counting from 53 down to 1 for the opening day 53-man roster for the 2011 Green Bay Packers.

For my previous "Quick Thoughts" on the 2011 preseason for the Packers, check out:
- Preseason Week 1 Packers/Browns Review
- Preseason Week 2 Packers/Cardinals Review
- Lambeau Field Expansion
- Preseason Week 3 Packers/Colts Review

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