Browns vs. Packers: Green Bay's Biggest Winners and Losers
It's difficult to put much stock into the outcome of a single preseason game, but for the second week in a row, the Green Bay Packers underwhelmed in consecutive losses to begin the exhibition season.
The final score might not mean much, but individual performances do. And unfortunately for the Packers, there weren't many good outings in a disappointing game.
Winner: Charles Woodson
As a 15-year veteran, Woodson gets the benefit of the doubt as a player who the coaching staff can afford to sit and not risk injury. Even with a week off, however, Woodson didn't show any signs of rust.
On the first play from scrimmage, Woodson stripped Browns running back Montario Hardesty to cause a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Casey Hayward. It gave possession to the Packers offense.
And just three plays after that, the Packers were up 7-0 behind an Aaron Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson touchdown throw.
Packers fans can only hope seeing Woodson closer to the middle of the field means putting him in more playmaking situations compared to when he was out on an island at cornerback.
Loser: Graham Harrell
To say that Graham Harrell had an uninspiring performance would be an understatement.
The reality of the situation is, the Packers have to be very concerned about the backup quarterback situation after Harrell delivered a flop of a recital on Thursday.
Harrell played slightly better in the second half, but the situation bordered on dire after the first half when he went to the locker room with a passer rating of 1.7.
The final stat line for Harrell was 12-of-24 for 100 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions to go along a safety he was responsible for by getting called for intentional grounding in the end zone.
Interestingly, Colt McCoy was the Packers' opponent on Thursday, and he's a player that's been rumored to go to the Packers in a trade (h/t Adam Schefter, ESPN Insider). McCoy completed 4-of-6 passes for 56 yards and a passer rating of 97.9.
Winner: D.J. Smith
Thursday marked the first time D.J. Smith was starting at inside linebacker in place of an injured Desmond Bishop who tore his hamstring in the preseason opener in San Diego.
With Bishop expected to miss several months, if not the entire season, the Browns game was the beginning of what should be a long streak of starts for Smith. The second-year player turned in a solid showing.
Smith racked up a team-high six tackles in the first half, but it seemed like he could have had double that amount by constantly being around the football.
His best play of the evening came when he hit Brandon Weeden on a blitz as the Browns quarterback released the ball on a second-quarter throw.
Loser: Randall Cobb
Ball security is starting to become an issue for talented second-year receiver Randall Cobb.
Not unlike how Montario Hardesty was stripped by Charles Woodson, Cobb was robbed by Browns defensive back Sheldon Brown on a first-quarter pass from Aaron Rodgers.
The fumble was recovered and returned 19 yards and set up a Phil Dawson 47-yard field goal to pull the Browns within one of the Packers, 7-6.
Going back to last season, Cobb is showing a penchant for putting the football on the ground. Last year, all the fumbles occurred on returns instead of on offense, but all three of Cobb's fumbles last year were not recovered.
Whether it's offense or special teams, it doesn't really matter. Cobb just has to take better care of the football not matter what phase of the game.
Winner: Jerron McMillian
After missing two tackles in his professional debut last week, it was important for rookie safety Jerron McMillian to come up with a better performance in preseason Week 2.
And considering M.D. Jennings hasn't really come out and won the nickel safety job outright, McMillian has a real opportunity to win some playing time.
The fourth-round draft choice out of Maine put his best foot forward on one second-quarter series when he made two tackles, one for a loss of two yards and one for a gain of only one yard.
McMillian is a hard-charging safety who appears to be at his best when he's utilized in the box. He could be a good complement to Charles Woodson in the Packers' nickel packages.
Loser: Marc Tyler
Following his team-leading 32 rushing yards in the Packers' preseason opener last week, Tyler had only six yards on eight carries on Thursday for an average of less than one yard per carry.
There was a big opportunity for Tyler against the Browns when the Packers were down to only two healthy halfbacks and only three running backs total, but Tyler didn't take advantage.
Not only did he do little in the run game, he dropped a pass that hit him in the hands and only had one reception for negative-three yards.
With the addition of Cedric Benson as a free agent to the Packers' backfield, what little chance Tyler had of making the Packers' roster appears to be gone.
Winner: Jordy Nelson
Nelson showed off his ability as one of the up-and-coming wide receivers in the NFL by hauling in his only reception over the top of a Browns defensive back down the right sideline for a 20-yard touchdown from Aaron Rodgers.
With Greg Jennings sitting out of the game with a concussion, Nelson was Rodgers' No. 1 target, and the quarterback wasn't afraid to go to Nelson more than once.
After the Packers' first offensive play from scrimmage was a deep incomplete pass to Nelson in the end zone, Rodgers wasn't afraid to go to the well and find Nelson on a strikingly similar play.
The touchdown put the Packers up 7-0 just a minute into the game, but that was the only touchdown they'd score the entire evening.
Loser: Tori Gurley
It's not so much that Tori Gurley had a poor performance on Thursday. In fact, he actually had a key block that helped spring Otis Merrill to a 60-yard kick return.
It's more that Gurley is running out of time to make a push for a spot on the Packers' 53-man roster.
For someone who received a lot of offseason attention as a player who would make his mark in 2012, Gurley sure hasn't done a lot over the course of training camp.
First a groin injury set him back and forced him out of the first preseason game, but Gurley did little to make up for it on offense against the Browns with a zero-reception outing.