Green Bay Packers Rookie Progress Reports for Preseason Week 1
The Green Bay Packers lost their first preseason game against the Tennessee Titans in a sloppy, rainy contest on Aug. 9, but the game plan was never to win—it was to evaluate the rookies and backups competing for spots on Green Bay's 53-man roster.
Rookies Jared Abbrederis and Colt Lyerla did not play Saturday evening; Abbrederis, of course, will miss the season after tearing his ACL, while Lyerla continues to nurse a knee injury. Seventh-round pick Jeff Janis dressed but did not play.
The Packers' other rookies got an opportunity to show what they could do in a game setting.
We last checked in on how the rookies were performing during training camp. Now let's examine how they look after one preseason matchup under their belts.
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had the opportunity to start against Tennessee in place of Morgan Burnett, who has an oblique injury, per Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Micah Hyde and Clinton-Dix played the entire first half at the safety positions.
The rookie's debut was marked with a handful of errors, but he was able to demonstrate an ability to correct them. He allowed scatback Dexter McCluster to slip past him for a 10-yard gain, but as ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky pointed out, he recovered on the next play to hold Bishop Sankey to just one yard.
Starting in place of the injured strong safety Burnett, Clinton-Dix played in the box against the run much of the night. It will be interesting to see if he gets more opportunities throughout the preseason to move downfield and demonstrate the playmaking ability he flashed at Alabama and for which he was drafted.
WR Davante Adams
Davante Adams' stat sheet from Saturday evening does not invite any concerns about his performance—he caught two passes for 22 yards—but his surprise involvement in punt returns was likely a short-lived phenomenon.
Adams was not even listed among Green Bay's punt returners in its unofficial depth chart prior to Saturday, and he likely won't be afterward. He muffed both attempts he made in the first quarter, recovering the first but losing the second. The recovery by Tennessee set up a Shonn Greene touchdown run of 13 yards.
After last Saturday's game, Adams missed practice Monday and Tuesday with a wrist injury he sustained trying to recover the fumble, but he returned to practice Wednesday, per ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky. He should get a chance to demonstrate against the St. Louis Rams on Aug. 16 that his muffed punts were a factor of the weather and not his hands.
TE Richard Rodgers
Richard Rodgers got the starting nod at tight end against Tennessee, and though his performance didn't guarantee him the No. 1 spot over competitors Brandon Bostick and Andrew Quarless, it didn't move him further down the list either.
"Richard Rodgers is getting better each day," coach Mike McCarthy said in a presser Tuesday, via the team's Twitter account. "He did some really good things Saturday in Tenn. I like what he brings to the table."
Rodgers had one catch for 10 yards against the Titans, but what coaches will really want to see during the preseason is an improvement in blocking. And that's where he made progress Saturday. As Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette pointed out, it was Rodgers who sealed off the lane for James Starks' 20-yard touchdown.
Having demonstrated fantastic hands during camp and proving himself as a pass-catcher, as long as Rodgers can show in the next three preseason games that he can be called upon to block as well, the starting job could well be his.
DT Khyri Thornton
Khyri Thornton's motor and physicality flashed against the Titans, as the third-round pick attempted to prove that he was worth the high pick, despite being low on most people's radar, heading into the draft, and valued much lower.
Thornton will compete with Josh Boyd for snaps behind B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels and Datone Jones. Former second-round defensive end Jerel Worthy's departure, traded to the New England Patriots as NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday, opens the door a little wider for Thornton.
It's not a stretch to draw the conclusion that trading Worthy indicates the Packers are feeling confident in their young talent on the line, including Thornton and undrafted rookie Mike Pennel.
LB Carl Bradford
Carl Bradford got very few snaps in the Packers' first preseason game—just eight, per Bob McGinn and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That limited exposure isn't going to be enough for him to prove to Green Bay he can be a player for them.
"He's not a height-weight-speed guy. He's the exact opposite," another NFL team's executive told McGinn and Silverstein. "He's just a football player. Those kinds of guys have to play in games."
It's a great point. At 6'1" and 253 pounds, many people thought Bradford would transition to inside linebacker in the NFL. But Bradford hasn't had any conversations with the Packers about moving there, he told McGinn and Silverstein.
Because Green Bay wants to see him at outside linebacker, Bradford only saw the field after Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba had taken their snaps. If the Packers want to see what Bradford, who had 61 tackles and 8.5 sacks last season at Arizona State, can truly do for their defense, he needs to spend more time on the field.
C Corey Linsley
Corey Linsley played 28 snaps against Tennessee, per ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, but his competition at the position, second-year player JC Tretter, started and played three series.
Neither Tretter nor Linsley allowed a quarterback sack, hit or hurry in the game, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and while Tretter didn't do anything to lose the favored nod, Linsley didn't do much to earn it. It seems the Packers are proceeding under the plan to continue starting Tretter unless Linsley flashes, and he's certainly being given the snaps to prove he can.
As the Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn wrote after the game, "at this point, there's no competition at center. Tretter clearly is the more athletic and advanced of the two players." The job is Tretter's to lose, but even if Linsley can't wrestle it away over the next three games, it's reassuring to know there's depth at center.
CB Demetri Goodson
Demetri Goodson got the most snaps of any Packers cornerback against Tennessee, with 27, per ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, including 10 on special teams. His performance mixed a little good with a little bad.
Goodson got flagged for pass interference but, as Demovsky noted, he later came back to break up a deep pass in the end zone.
The offseason hasn't gone well for Goodson. In practice on Aug. 4, per Demovsky, he gave up three touchdowns and had a pass-interference call.
The sixth-rounder needs to take advantage of every snap he gets for the rest of the preseason, but by the time the first roster cuts come around on Aug. 26, Goodson may find himself headed for the practice squad.