Thursday, August 9, 2012

2012 Preseason Week 1 - Packers/Chargers Review

Turnovers and penalties marred the start of the 2012 Green Bay Packers' march to Super Bowl XLVII.  We usually only get to see the starters for the first few series of the game in Week 1 of the preseason. As a result I expected to see sloppy play from the second and third stringers this week but the first-stringers were the ones that worried me the most.  Here are a few quick thoughts on the Week 1 Preseason game between the Packers and the Chargers:

#1) Player that hurt his stock most
: Let's relax on replacing Donald Driver with the likes of Diondre Borel and Shaky Smithson.  I understand that the shadows were tricky in the Whales Vagina but if Borel and Smithson can't field balls cleanly on special teams in the preseason that does not make me confident that they are ready to do it when the games count.  Obviously Driver is no longer a special teams player but he does everything the Packers ask of him on the field and more importantly, off the field he is a legitimate veteran presence in the locker room that the Packers desperately need.  You want an indictment on Borel and Smithson, the Packers had stud returner Randall Cobb essentially fair catching punts in the 4th quarter instead of giving them more reps.

#2) Player that helped his stock most
: With Charles Woodson not in uniform it gave the Packers a good chance to see what they have at cornerback and safety besides the mainstays (Woodson, Tramon Williams, and Morgan Burnett).  Davon House showed flashes of brilliance before getting hurt on special teams.  If House can stay healthy (huge if based on last season) and play that well in the regular season then we might be looking at Al Harris 2.0 not only aesthetically with the locks and the jersey number but with his play.  Casey Hayward was routinely victimized on defense while House played well so as long as House is healthy, look for him to push Sam Shields for playing time.

#3) Position to watch
: With middle linebacker Desmond Bishop leaving the game with what looked like a serious knee injury, only half of the guys that will start defensively for the 2012 Green Bay Packers are set: B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Claymaker, Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson, and Morgan Burnett.  Let's focus on linebacker, which looks like the spot with the most uncertainty where the Packers will most likely keep 10 guys.  The only locks to make the roster are Claymaker, Bishop (assuming he isn't lost for the season), Perry, and D.J. Smith.  Odds are that the Packers keep A.J. Hawk despite his bloated salary so that leaves eight guys for five spots.  There is still a ton of preseason left but if I had to guess today I would bet Erik Walden, Jamari Lattimore, Terrell Manning, Frank Zombo, and Dezman Moses make the team while Brad Jones, Robert Francois, and Vic So'oto will be cut.

Final Note
: I don't know all the in's and out's of the labor negotiations between the NFL and the NFL referees but Roger Goodell needs to sort this out well before the start of the regular season.  It is downright crazy that NFL referees are not full-time NFL employees.  Obviously Goodell realizes that the referees are essentially the gatekeepers of a multi-billion industry right?  One way or another the real NFL referees better be presiding over the regular season games or the product on the field will suffer.

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