Green Bay Packers' Winners and Losers from 1st Preseason Game
Football is finally back for the Green Bay Packers.
They took on the Tennessee Titans this past weekend and lost by a final score of 20-16. In that game, there were clear winners and losers for the Packers.
Even though the Packers lost Saturday night, it took a late touchdown from the Titans in the fourth quarter for it to happen. Overall, Green Bay needs to feel good about its performance.
Here's a look at the biggest winners and losers from the Packers' first preseason game.
Winner: Scott Tolzien, Quarterback
The battle for the No. 2 quarterback job hasn't been as exciting as hoped through the first weeks of training camp. However, Week 1 of the preseason completely changed that.
He finished by completing 67 percent of his passes for 124 yards. As for Flynn, he finished by completing only 50 percent of his passes for a measly 49 yards. Flynn was also graded as the worst offensive player for the Packers by Pro Football Focus, according to Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.
What this all leads to is the gap between Flynn and Tolzien closing by quite a bit. With another strong performance in Week 2 of the preseason, Tolzien could ultimately jump Flynn on the depth chart.
Loser: Davante Adams, Wide Receiver
Wide receiver Davante Adams didn't fail in his first preseason game as a wide receiver. Instead, he's listed as a loser on this list because of his play as a punt returner.
Despite not even being listed on the first depth chart as a punt returner, Adams lined up with special teams on the first two Titans punts. Unfortunately, the end result of the punts wasn't so great.
Adams muffed both punts, with one being recovered by Green Bay and the other by Tennessee. That turnover resulted in a Titans touchdown when running back Shonn Greene found the end zone on the next play.
While Adams still showed plenty of potential as a receiver by bringing in two receptions for 22 yards, there's simply no way he'll be fielding punts anytime during the regular season.
Winner: JC Tretter, Center
Training camp hasn't been so great for center JC Tretter. He's been routinely beat by nose tackle B.J. Raji at practice, and it appeared as if he was going to be the weakest link on the line.
However, Tretter all but locked down the starting job with his performance on Saturday. Tretter was extremely solid against the Titans, especially with his exchanges when snapping the ball, despite the rainy conditions.
If Tretter can continue to play like he did against the Titans, the Packers have to feel good about the offensive line. In fact, this could be the best group that Rodgers has ever played behind if Tretter becomes a solid contributor.
Loser: Julius Peppers, Outside Linebacker
It wasn't an ideal performance from newly acquired outside linebacker Julius Peppers against Tennessee.
Peppers finished the game without a tackle and generally failed to make much of an impact in limited time. In fact, Peppers was a big reason why Greene was able to score such an easy touchdown, according to Eric Baranczyk of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, who said:
For instance, he was a big reason Titans running back Shonn Greene scored so easily on a 13-yard touchdown run that was the final play of the No. 1 defense's night. Peppers got too far up field and turned his back to the sideline, which opened a huge hole for Greene to cut inside and go for the score.
It's those types of plays that Peppers can't afford to mess up. Is it possible that Peppers knew that it was a preseason game and wasn't giving his all? Sure, but you'd still expect the former All-Pro to at least flash on the field for one play.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and now the Packers need to be hoping that they didn't make a huge mistake by signing and relying on Peppers.
Winner: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety
While it was an up-and-down night for the former Alabama safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix finished the game on a high note to be considered a winner in his first preseason game.
Robert Zizzo of the Green Bay Press-Gazette sums up Clinton-Dix's final drive perfectly:
On Tennessee's last drive of the first half, he fought off blocks to make two tackles and then showed recovery speed in coverage on Titans tight end Taylor Thompson. Clinton-Dix tried to jump the route and let Thompson get behind him down the middle of the field, but was able to catch up to Thompson as the pass arrived and stripped the ball for an incompletion.
It's plays like the ones above that have to get the Packers excited about the future surrounding Clinton-Dix. With Morgan Burnett (more on him in a little bit) sidelined with an oblique strain, Clinton-Dix took full advantage of playing with the first-team defense.
Another strong performance next week by the rookie could put him in the conversation for starting when Week 1 of the regular season rolls around.
Loser: Morgan Burnett, Safety
Last season was a season to forget for safety Morgan Burnett. Unfortunately, things haven't changed much through training camp and the first week of the preseason.
Burnett has been injured on-and-off during camp, with his latest injury keeping him out of Saturday's game. And it seems that each time Burnett gets off the field, another player shines.
In training camp, it's been Sean Richardson who has looked like a challenger to take Burnett's starting job. On Saturday, it was Clinton-Dix and Micah Hyde who proved that a safety duo involving Burnett may not be necessary.
Simply put, Burnett needs to get healthy, and it needs to happen quickly. If he can't get back on the field soon, he may find himself seeing more of the bench once the regular season starts.
Winner: The Ground Game
For the past several years, the Packers have been known as a passing team. That's what happens when you're blessed with one of the premier quarterbacks in the league.
However, the Packers showed on Saturday that they might be ready to run more of a balanced offence this year thanks to a loaded backfield. Most of that balance will be handled by Eddie Lacy, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year.
However, James Starks, DuJuan Harris and undrafted rookie Rajion Neal all had successful games on Saturday. Starks and Neal combined for 11 carries, 88 yards and two touchdowns, while Harris proved his worth in the return game with a 40-yard kickoff return to open the game.
With Starks and Lacy, the Packers have one of the top one-two punches at running back in the league. If you add in either Harris or Neal, it only becomes more potent.
Don't be surprised if Green Bay finishes the year with a top-five ground game.
Loser: Injured Undrafted Free Agents
It's a real shame that two of the better undrafted free agents in training camp got injured during the first preseason game. Those two players were Neal and inside linebacker Joe Thomas, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
Both players left the game with knee injuries. The severity of Neal's injury is still unknown, but Thomas has avoided a serious injury per Demovsky. That's great news for Thomas since he's been one of the outstanding players in camp so far.
With only 53 roster spots, and only a handful of those really up for grabs, nothing could be worse for Neal and Thomas than to miss time. If they want to make the final roster in Green Bay, they'll need to get back on the field, and do it quick.
*All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.