Saturday, August 10, 2013

Building The 53 - 2013 Preseason Week 1 - Packers/Cardinals Review

For the second year in a row, the Green Bay Packers stumbled in their first preseason game.  At least the Packers scored last year in their preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers because this year the Packers were shutout for first time in the preseason by the Arizona Cardinals since August 22, 1987 when they lost 33-0 to the Washington Redskins in Madison.  Although I think preseason scores are meaningless, getting shutout is never a good thing.

Going into the preseason cornerback looked like the deepest position on the roster.  With two of the three best cornerbacks on the roster (Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward) out due to injury, the healthy cornerbacks were carved up en route to a 17-0 loss to the Cardinals.  Here are a few thoughts on how the Packers/Cardinals preseason game impacted The 53:

Player that hurt his stock most - Graham Harrell: It is really hard to single out just one guy based on how sloppy the Packers played.  Certain guys that struggled, absent injury, are going to make the roster (House and Newhouse) so let's skip those guys.  Instead let's focus on the backup quarterbacks.  The Packers gave backup quarterback Graham Harrell a ton of snaps but he struggled (12 of 19 for 76 yards, 1 interception, and 1 fumble).  The third quarterback to see live action after Aaron Rodgers and Harrell was the newly signed Vince Young as opposed to B.J. Coleman.  Although Young did not put up huge numbers through the air (1 of 3 for 7 yards), he showed some versatility picking up a first down with his feet (2 rushes for 12 years).  Coleman looked the worst of the three backups (2 of 7 for 15 yards) in limited action but none of the three backups had a passer rating of more than 50, which shows how much each struggled.  Depending on how Harrell and Young play the rest of the preseason, I would keep the best of those two guys and stash Coleman on the practice squad.

Player that helped his stock most - Tyrone Walker: Usually the Packers keep five wide receivers on The 53.  Last year the Packers bucked that trend and kept six.  Heading into camp it looked like that position was settled despite losing mainstays Donald Driver (retired) and Greg Jennings (signed with the Minnesota Vikings and won't stop complaining to the media about the Packers).  When healthy, the top three wide receivers in some order are James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb.  At the start of the preseason it looked like Jeremy Ross and Jarrett Boykin would claim the last two wide receiver roster spots.  Tyrone Walker's performance against the Cardinals and Alex Gillett's strong camp so far means that unless the Packers keep six wide receivers, there are at least four guys competing for two roster spots.  Despite my affinity for Virginia Tech, at this point I would keep Ross and Walker ahead of Boykin (the former Hokie) and Gillett.

Position to watch - Offensive Tackle: When the Packers lost starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga for the season due to a torn ACL earlier this week that put both offensive tackle spots in flux.  As of right now, it looks like left tackle is rookie 4th round pick David Bakhtiari's spot to lose and right tackle is Marshall Newhouse's spot to lose.  Newhouse was the starting left tackle last year but struggled, which is why the Packers moved Bulaga to left tackle.  Last night Newhouse got reps at both right and left tackle.  Much like last year, Newhouse struggled for stretches giving up a sack to John Abraham.  I am fine giving Bakhtiari every chance to be the first rookie starting left tackle for the Packers since Ken Reutegers in 1985.  I just wish the Packers would give Don Barclay the first shot to win the right tackle spot instead of Newhouse.

Final Note: For me, the preseason sideline interviews are the most uninteresting portions of the game.  The interviewees for the Packers/Cardinals game were outside linebacker Clay Matthews, wide receiver Jones, tight end Jermichael Finley, and cornerback Sam Shields.  With the prevalence of social media, instead of asking football questions that are going to get canned answers from the players, the production staffs should solicit interesting non-football questions from viewers via Facebook and Twitter.  Not only would it increase fan interaction but it would actually make the interviews interesting instead of just being throwaway airtime for stars.

I am sure reviewing the game film is going to be painful for the Packers, luckily the only injury was a sprained ankle to rookie defensive lineman Datone Jones.  Unless the Packers make any significant roster moves before their next preseason game on the road next Saturday against the St. Louis Rams, check back next Sunday for my review of how the Packers/Rams preseason game impacts Building The 53.

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