Chiefs vs Packers: Green Bay's Biggest Winners & Losers from Preseason Week 4
The Packers can enter the regular season with a little bit of momentum and can feel good about themselves after back-to-back wins.
Before the regular season begins, however, the final cut-down date looms, and there were a couple players that stated their case to be kept on the roster in the game against the Chiefs.
Winner: Graham Harrell
Graham Harrell really, really needed a good performance in the preseason finale, and he got it. Coming into the game, his job was in question after three consecutive poor performances to begin his 2012 campaign, and confidence in backup quarterback in Green Bay was waning.
The critics were lining up to lambaste Harrell, and he did a fantastic job of silencing them.
As far as his passer rating goes, Harrell was literally perfect on Thursday evening. Completing 13-of-15 passes for 223 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions, his 158.3 passer rating couldn't get any higher.
The best indication of Harrell's effectiveness, however, was how he directed the Packers to three-touchdown scoring drives with two of them ending in passing scores.
Based upon this performance alone, it's a good bet the Packers won't be looking for another player to back up Aaron Rodgers this season.
Loser: B.J. Raji
On the very first play from scrimmage, B.J. Raji went down to the ground and had to be attended to by trainers.
There's a reason some teams rest their starters in the final preseason game, and this is exactly why. It's too risky to expose your best players to injury.
Raji eventually left the field under his own power, but the word from announcers is that he had twisted his left ankle and could later be seen with ice on the sideline.
Considering Raji could walk off the field, he probably avoided major injury, but an injury of any nature can only be considered a negative. It's a good thing for Raji and the Packers that they get a couple extra days to recover after playing their final preseason game on a Thursday and not opening Week 1 of the regular season until the following Sunday.
Winner: Sam Shields
It really seems like Sam Shields has gotten the message from the coaches after being demoted from his gig as the nickel cornerback for much of last season.
Jarrett Bush, Casey Hayward and Davon House have seen most of the time with the starters during the preseason, but Shields may have outperformed all of them.
Shields' solid play was highlighted by an interception of Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn in the end zone to keep Kansas City off the scoreboard as they were driving in Packers territory in the second quarter.
It was the second consecutive game with an interception for Shields who's making a statement to re-join the Packers' starting lineup.
Combined with some aggressiveness in his tackling, he's doing all the right things at this time of year that will help him get back in the good graces of head coach Mike McCarthy, defensive coordinator Dom Capers, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and the rest of the Packers staff.
Loser: Cedric Benson
It didn't take long for Cedric Benson's reputation as a fumble-prone running back to come to the fore.
On his first carry of the evening, Benson put the ball on the ground while fighting for extra yardage. Thankfully for him, the Packers recovered to maintain possession, but it was not a good way to begin his first game as a starter in the Packers backfield.
With 12 fumbles in the previous two seasons combined, Benson has had issues protecting the football, which won't sit well in Green Bay under Mike McCarthy who has done a good job stressing that turnover margin wins games.
On the Packers' second series of the game, Benson also got three consecutive carries, but it wasn't enough to get a first down as the Packers went three-and-out.
There's a lot of time to make up for one down preseason performance, but the Packers will be expecting more out of Benson once the games actually count.
Winner: Jarrett Boykin
Jarrett Boykin is a victim of being a member of one of the deepest receiving corps in the NFL, but that hasn't stopped him from forcing the Packers to make a difficult decision about his future.
On Thursday Boykin led the Packers in receiving with five receptions for 82 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown catch from Graham Harrell to put the Packers on top 21-3 in the third quarter.
The undrafted rookie wide receiver is in a tight battle with Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel for the last spot or two in the wide receiver pecking order. With a report that the Miami Dolphins are pursuing James Jones, there might be extra room to keep a player like Boykin on the roster. But even if that's not the case, Boykin is doing a good job auditioning for the rest of the NFL.
The mandatory roster cut-down to 53 players occurs on Friday and it's possible other NFL teams could be looking add to their teams via either trade or the waiver wire.
Loser: The First-String Offense
The sample size is small to be sure, the first-string offense can't be feeling good about themselves after failing to convert a single first down in two possessions against the Chiefs.
And with the exception of the third preseason game against the Bengals when the Packers starters saw their most playing time, the results have not been particularly good at all during preseason play in 2012.
Part of the blame can be placed on the shoulders of Cedric Benson who had four carries for only 11 yards on Thursday evening, but the blocking in front of him wasn't opening a whole lot of holes either. And speaking of the offensive line, left tackle Marshall Newhouse had a penalty for the second consecutive game.
Even quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn't looked like his unusual dominating self after completing only 1-of-2 passes for a total of five yards.
He also uncharacteristically under-threw a pass to James Jones that was nearly intercepted on a free play following an offsides penalty by the Chiefs. Granted, there was nothing to risk on the play, but it still didn't look like the type of pass Rodgers usually throws.
Winner: Backup Outside Linebackers
The reserve outside linebackers of the Packers have continued their string of solid play that has lasted all training camp long.
Both Erik Walden and Dezman Moses, even though they're the backups to Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, looked like they're worthy of starting roles in the NFL.
Walden flexed his pass-rushing muscles with a third-quarter sack of Chiefs quarterback Ricky Stanzi and did a good job getting into the opponent's backfield all night long.
On one particular play in the second quarter, Walden flushed Brady Quinn right into the arms of Moses who put a hard hit on the quarterback just as he released the ball.
It was an active night for Moses who finished with five total tackles and had another sack wiped out by penalty.
Loser: Curenski Gilleylen
Gilleylen went without a catch on Thursday evening despite being targeted four times.
It wasn't always Gilleylen's fault. Some of the passes from quarterback B.J. Coleman were simply off target, but Gilleylen's zero catches left him with few chances to impress.
With such a deep and talented receiving corps in Green Bay, it's going to be difficult for Gilleylen to get so much as a practice squad invite.
Fellow undrafted wide receivers Jarrett Boykin and Dale Moss both were able to get into the box score with receptions on Thursday evening and are probably ahead of Gilleylen on the Packers depth chart, which will probably leave the Nebraska product on the outside looking in.