Stock Up, Stock Down for Every Green Bay Packers Positional Unit This Preseason
The Green Bay Packers head into their third preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday with an 0-2 record. The starters of the Packers have not played a whole lot, but that will change Thursday night as the regulars will most likely play the entire first half.
The regular lineup of the Packers have not looked too bad so far this preseason. It's the second and third string players that have not looked very good in the first two games, with a couple of notable exceptions.
I'm going to grade whether or not the stock is up or down for a particular position unit thus far in training camp, looking at all the variables.
How can the stock be down at the QB position for the Packers when you have the reigning NFL MVP (Aaron Rodgers) as your starting QB?
Rodgers will be as good as he was last year if he can stay healthy. I know, some of you will point to his 49.2 QB rating after the first two preseason games. However, Rodgers had to deal with a swinging gate at LT (Herb Taylor) blocking for him vs. San Diego and he will round into his Pro Bowl form soon enough.
The problem with the QB position right now is the performance of backup QB Graham Harrell. Harrell is 27-51 for 235 yards, with one TD pass vs. two picks. Harrell has a QB rating of 55.6. His performance has to get better if he expects to be Rodgers' main backup in Titletown.
Yes, I know Harrell is playing with the second and third string offensive line units and with backup WRs, but that still doesn't excuse missing wide-open receivers with errant passes.
Harrell still has a chance to prove himself, but he has to start showing something, otherwise somebody else might be coming into Green Bay soon. Someone like Colt McCoy perhaps.
Third string QB B.J. Coleman has gotten very limited playing time, and has shown flashes at times, but is still very raw as he tries to learn Mike McCarthy's offense.
The RB situation has been a mess. Fumbles, dropped passes and injuries. And a lack of production too, as the Green Bay RBs have only run for 73 yards in two games.
James Starks, who looked bad in the first preseason game against San Diego, is out for a couple of weeks with a turf toe injury.
Backup Brandon Saine is also out at least another week with a hamstring injury.
The Packers are bringing along second-year back Alex Green slowly due to his ACL injury from last season.
Undrafted rookie Marc Tyler has looked okay when given an opportunity, but his yard per attempt average (1.8) is not good, nor was his late fumble vs. the Chargers.
That situation made Ted Thompson go out and sign veteran RB Cedric Benson, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears. Benson has put together three straight 1,000 yard rushing campaigns. Benson will be given every opportunity to become the main RB (at least on early downs) when the Packers are on offense.
The Packers hope that with the addition of Benson, that all the RBs will take their game to the next level because of the added competition.
Pro Bowler John Kuhn looks to be the lone FB on the roster this year.
The only dark cloud over the Packers WR corp was the two-week absence by Greg Jennings due to concussion issues. Jennings is now back and will play on Thursday night.
The rest of his compadres at WR look good, especially Jordy Nelson, who is coming off a career year last season.
The first five positions in the WR unit look to be pretty certain, with Jennings, Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb and Donald Driver manning those spots.
The sixth spot is still up for grabs. A number of players could get that roster spot. That group includes Tori Gurley, Diondre Borel and Jarrett Boykin.
Bottom line, the Packers will once again have one of the top WR units in the NFL this year.
Jermichael Finley has not played yet this preseason due to a strained quadriceps. Finley needs the work too. He is expected to play Thursday vs. the Bengals.
Backup D.J. Williams has gotten most of the playing time in Finley's absence, as he has five catches for 40 yards.
Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor and Brandon Bostick all have one reception each this preseason.
All in all, pretty quiet.
The Packers would like to see Finley and Williams in the lineup at the same time to see how productive they can be vs. certain match ups. That should happen on Thursday night.
Also, Andrew Quarless will start the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. Quarless can be activated after six games if he is deemed ready to return to the lineup.
The Packers will keep at least three TEs on their roster in 2012. Maybe four.
The stock is up for one reason. Marshall Newhouse looks pretty solid at LT so far. He was definitely missed in the San Diego game, when Herb Taylor was being abused playing LT. However, Newhouse was back for the Cleveland game and looked good.
The rest of the starting offensive line looks formidable as well. LG T.J. Lang just got a new contract extension, while C Jeff Saturday looks just fine in his new digs.
The right side of the offensive line looks to be dominant with RG Josh Sitton and RT Bryan Bulaga manning that part of the line.
The backups have been pretty shaky, however, so far this preseason, with the exception of Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The Packers need to find solid backups at C, G and T and except for Dietrich-Smith, who is an inside player, the Packers haven't really determined who those players might be.
Second-year OT Derek Sherrod might be able to help when he is ready to start playing. Right now, Sherrod will be starting the year on the PUP list due to a broken leg from late last season.
The defensive line of the Packers up to this point have not been doing a very good job, either against the run or the pass.
The Packers have allowed 185 rushing yards in two games and have also allowed 492 passing yards.
That has to get better. B.J. Raji looks solid, but rookies Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels have not shown much pass rush ability yet.
The rest of the unit has been average at best. Mike Neal has shown flashes in practice, but he needs to show that in games. Anthony Hargrove has had a very quiet camp, as has Jarius Wynn. Lawrence Guy has had his moments in camp, same with Daniel Muir.
Starting DEs Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson need to play better, but right now those two are the best rush stopping defensive linemen (along with Raji) that the Packers have.
Bottom line, all phases of this unit has to improve if the Packers hope to improve their defense in 2012.
The stock is down for one major reason: The severe hamstring injury suffered by ILB Desmond Bishop early in the San Diego game. Bishop recently had surgery and it still is not known what his status will be. Most believe the injury will cost Bishop the 2012 season, unless the Players Association and the NFL can agree on a new rule change where one player can come back from the IR in a season.
D.J. Smith has looked good as Bishop's replacement, as he leads the team in tackles thus far this preseason. Smith is also playing the lone LB position when the Packers go into their dime look defensively.
ILB A.J. Hawk needs to play like he played in 2010, as opposed to last season. ROLB Clay Matthews looks as good as gold, while rookie LOLB Nick Perry does have a sack, but for the most part has been quiet.
Backup ILB Robert Francois and OLB Erik Walden have looked very good when they have received playing time. ILB Jamarri Lattimore and OLB Dezman Moses have looked very solid on special teams, as has Francois. ILB Brad Jones has had his moments too.
Rookie ILB Terrell Manning has not shown the play making ability he showed at North Carolina State thus far as a rookie, and he needs to start doing that.
OLB Frank Zombo will be starting the year on the PUP list.
All in all, the secondary for the Packers looks to be much improved in 2012. In the base defense, Charles Woodson is playing SS besides FS Morgan Burnett, while Tramon Williams plays LCB, while four players (Jarrett Bush, Sam Shields, Davon House and rookie Casey Hayward) all battle for the starting RCB postion.
House looked to have won the job with his performance against the Chargers, but he ended up hurting his shoulder on a special teams play.
Shields has been hurt as well (elbow), but is now back. The Packers are rotating the players in and out as starters on a daily basis.
When the Packers go into their nickel look, Woodson slides in the slot position, while a number of players are battling for the SS position. The group includes M.D. Jennings, rookie Jerron McMillian, Anthony Levine and undrafted rookie Sean Richardon.
McMillian really opened some eyes last week vs. the Browns as he played some slot in the dime and looked very good around the line of scrimmage stopping the run. Richardson has had a solid camp as well.
House will most likely be the starting RCB in the base if healthy, while Hayward could get some time in the dime scheme, as he has had a pretty solid camp.
As long as the Packers have Mason Crosby as their K, Tim Masthay as their P and Brett Goode as their LS, the team will be in fine hands at those positions.
The kick return and kick coverage units were much better last year, as Green Bay really cut down on their penalties, as well as their tackling and blocking. In addition to that, Randall Cobb became a force as a returner in both the kickoff and punt return game.
A number of new players have shown some nice skills on special teams and this includes Jerron McMillian, Terrell Manning, Dezman Moses, Otis Merrill and Sean Richardson.
The special teams units are lead by stalwarts Jarrett Bush, Jamari Lattimore and Robert Francois.