Thursday, August 23, 2012

2012 Preseason Week 3 - Packers/Bengals Review

After struggling two weeks ago against the Chargers on the road and last week at home against the Browns, the Packers finally put together a positive performance on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. Here are a few of my quick thoughts on the Week 3 Packers/Bengals preseason game:

#1) Player that hurt his stock most
: Marshall Newhouse is the starter at left tackle unless the Packers move Bryan Bulaga from right tackle to left tackle since Derek Sherrod is still recovering from a broken leg at the end of last season.  In 2011 Newhouse played decent against inferior competition but struggled mightily against good competition.  In Newhouse's first action of the preseason he struggled, which is shaping up to be a big problem since the Packers expect to transition seamlessly from Chad Clifton (former starting left tackle for the last decade) to Newhouse.  I hope the Packers give Newhouse more reps next week to get him as much live action as possible even though the starters play only a few snaps in the preseason finale because Newhouse does not look ready to protect A-Rodg's blindside.

#2) Player that helped his stock most
: Last week I highlighted running back as the position to watch thanks to signing Cedric Benson.  In Benson's first appearance for the Packers, he ran very well against his former employer.  There is no question the Packers lacked a powerful running back like Benson since Ahman Green's first stint with the Packers.  Green's second stint with the Packers was forgettable because physically he was a shell of his former self.  Ball security and blocking are the only things that worry me about Benson because as long as Rodgers is healthy the Packers are going to be a pass first team so Benson will see more of his carries when the Packers have a lead that they are looking to protect.

#3) Position to watch
: So far I've talked about linebackers and running backs. This week I want to focus on the secondary.  Assuming that Charles Woodson and Morgan Burnett start at safety while Tramon Williams starts at one of the two cornerback positions in the base 3-4 defense, that leaves one starting cornerback position to fill.  Davon House looked like he was going to be the other starter until he predictably got hurt earlier this preseason.  House suffered a shoulder injury and I fear that will limit his effectiveness in bump-and-run coverage in 2012 much like it did for Williams in 2011.  That leaves Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush, and Casey Hayward as the other options at cornerback.  None of the three separated themselves so far, which means the Packers might as well start the rookie Hayward since Shields regressed in 2011 and Bush is a liability in coverage.

Final Note
: My father-in-law has been a lifetime Bengals fan since he grew up in Dayton, OH but lately he's become a Packer fan and is even a co-owner like Papa Cheese, me, and what feels like a million other people.  This week we emailed about which team my father-in-law should root for.  I settled on rooting for both teams being healthy since they've both suffered some fairly serious injuries to starters already.  Besides Ryan Pickett and Tom Crabtree, it looks like our wishes were answered on the Cheesehead side of the ball.

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