Saturday, August 24, 2013

Building The 53 - 2013 Preseason Week 3 - Packers/Seahawks Review

Every preseason fans look forward to the third preseason game because that is when all the healthy starters usually play into the third quarter.  Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy bucked that trend at the quarterback playing franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers for only one series against the Seattle Seahawks at home. Injuries are inevitable in football and the Packers suffered some injuries to important players against the Seahawks that have fuzzy timelines for recovery.  Three important defensive players suffered or re-aggravated hamstring injuries: Morgan Burnett (S), Casey Hayward (CB), and Brad Jones (MLB).  Despite drafting two running backs, the Packers still view DuJuan Harris as their starter but Harris re-injured his right knee that has limited his participation so far this preseason.  Here are my roster related thoughts on the Packers/Seahawks game:

Player that hurt his stock most - James Starks (RB): There were certain players that struggled like cornerback Loyce Means (gave up a number of big receptions) or tight end Jake Stoneburner (fumbled) but those guys are long-shots to make the team.  After looking good last week on the ground, the Packers struggled to run the ball with their running backs against the Seahawks: Eddie Lacy (8 carries for minus-5 yards), Jonathan Franklin (4 carries for 1 yard), DuJuan Harris (3 carries for 2 yards), Alex Green (2 carries for 31 yards and one of two rushes was for 31 yards), and John Kuhn (1 carry for 3 yards).  Juxtapose that with Seahawks rookie running back Christine Michael's 122 yards of offense from scrimmage (11 rushes for 97 yards and 1 catch for 25 yards) and the Packers looked inept at running back compared to the Seahawks.  Don't forget the fact that the Packers could have had Michael instead of Lacy since Michael was drafted one spot after Lacy in the 2013 NFL Draft.  Leaving the Lacy/Michael comparison aside because I still think Lacy is a better fit for the Packers than Michael despite their performances last night; it looks like Green, Kuhn, and Starks are vying for two roster spots.  Both Green and Kuhn saw action against the Seahawks while Starks did not register a single carry despite being healthy so yesterday might be the beginning of the end for the supremely talented but often injured Starks.

Player that helped his stock most - Vince Young: As discussed earlier, teams often use week 4 as opposed to week 3 to give their backups a long look.  This year the Packers gave their backup quarterbacks a long look a week early against the Seahawks.  Going into the game it was backup quarterback Graham Harrell's job to lose but Harrell did little to impress the coaches.  Alternatively, newly signed quarterback Vince Young, not a graduate of McCarthy's "vaunted" off-season quarterback school like Harrell and B.J. Coleman, was efficient through the air (6 of 7 throwing for 47 yards and 1 touchdown) and on the ground (3 carries for 39 yards) to pull ahead of Harrell and Coleman for the backup quarterback job behind Rodgers.

Position to watch - Defensive Line: The Packers typically keep six defensive lineman but this year they have eight or nine players worth keeping for the first time in a long time.  My current depth chart is: B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Johnny Jolly, Josh Boyd, Jordan Miller, Mike Neal, and Jerel Worthy.  I know the Packers are trying to covert Neal to outside linebacker but I don't see him being much more than a situational pass rusher in sub-packages.  I put Worthy last because he is recovering from a torn ACL so he will start the season on the physically unable to perform list, otherwise Worthy would be pushing Wilson and Jones for playing time.  It will be interesting to see whether the Packers keep a seventh lineman.  If I were in charge I would keep Raji, Pickett, Wilson, Jones, Daniels, Boyd, and Jolly but I would be shocked if Miller made it through waiver so it really comes down to whether Jolly's past baggage will keep him from making The 53.

Final Note: The Packers need to make 15 roster cuts by 3 pm CDT on Tuesday, August 27th.  There are a ton of guys that might end up on injured reserve, which would mean they could not play for the Packers in 2013 but at the very least will most likely start the season on the PUP list.  Being placed on the PUP list precludes a player from joining the roster until week 8 for the Packers this year since NFL rules mandate that any player on the PUP list must miss the team's first six games and Packers have a ridiculously early bye this year (week 4).  Here are the likely PUP list candidates: Jerel Worthy (DT), Sean Richardson (S), Bryan Bulaga (OT), Derek Sherrod (OT), and JC Tretter (OG/C).  If I were in charge, I would cut the following 15 non-PUP list worthy guys: Angelo Pease (RB), Johnathan Amosa (FB), Omarius Hines (WR), Myles White (WR), Justin Wilson (WR), Lane Taylor (G), Garth Gerhard (C), Patrick Lewis (C), Gilbert Pena (DT), Jarvis Reed (OLB), Donte Savage (OLB), James Nixon (CB), Loyce Means (CB), David Fulton (S), and Chaz Powell (S).

Check back after the actual initial roster cuts this Tuesday for my updated thoughts on Building The 53.

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