1.) Overall, the Packers secondary played well, but definitely had some up and down moments in tonight’s preseason game. Morgan Burnett is looking extremely sharp as I am very confident that he will do a great job as the starting safety heading into the regular season, even if Bigby finally reports to training camp and attempts to challenge Burnett for the starting role. It was finally nice to see Pat Lee back on the field too as he will challenge for the nickel corner slot this year against Underwood.
2.) The tight end position just got a lot more competitive after tonight. In case you didn’t notice, un-drafted free agent Tom Crabtree, who was released by the Chiefs last season, was on the Packers’ both first team kickoff coverage and return unit tonight. He also was playing over Havner and Quarless at tight end with Rodgers and many other starters still in the game. This tight end battle in training camp is going to be interesting to follow and I would be surprised if McCarthy kept all five tight ends, but Crabtree is definitely giving the coaching staff second thoughts after a good all-around performance tonight.
3.) I was very surprised to see Ryan Grant fumble. Not only do you cringe in your seat when Grant fumbles because you don’t expect it very often, you also cringe because he fumbled it on the Packers’ own 13-yard line setting up the Browns for great field position. Hopefully this was just a fluke and Grant keeps up his well-establish history of hanging on to the football.
4.) Rookie un-draftees Sam Shields and Quinn Porter were among the players who had a shaky special teams performance but played outstanding otherwise. Shields bobbled a kickoff and muffed a punt, but did make a great deflection on a pass while playing cornerback near the end of the game. Quinn Porter didn’t make too obvious of mistakes but did have poor positing on one punt specifically that rolled to his team’s 1-yard line after he failed to come up and fair-catch it inside the red zone. But like Shields, Porter bounced back and finished with 38 rushing yards.
5.) The Packers gained just 14 yards in the first half on the ground. As long as Rodgers is looking sharp and getting the ball downfield through the air, I feel fine with our running game. Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson each carried the ball 3 times and gained 6 yards apiece on the night.
6.) I noticed that defensive coordinator Dom Capers, unveiled his “psycho” package again this year. During a specific play, the two defensive linemen in Cullen Jenkins and BJ Raji got a great push up front, which opened up a lane for AJ Hawk to blitz through. Hawk ended up putting great pressure on the Browns’ quarterback as Brady Poppinga made a nice deflection over the exposed middle of the field.
7.) Regarding both kick and punt returns, I think we can all agree that Jordy Nelson last year wasn’t the answer. Brandon Jackson for kickoff returns and Will Blackmon for punt returns is definitely the combo that I would like to see this year. Jackson runs hard with a purpose and can find open holes downfield to run through and has experience in breaking tackles. It would also be nice to get Will Blackman back on the field as soon as possible and test out both his kick/punt return abilities as he is currently recovering from an injury.
8.) Aaron Rodgers could be leading the NFL’s best offense this upcoming season. Rodgers completed his first 10 passes through the air as top receivers such as Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, and Jermichael Finley were all on the receiving end of an impressive opening preseason performance.
9.) I really enjoyed the fact that Coach McCarthy gave Brandon Chillar extended playing time at the outside linebacker position. With the uncertainty of Clay Matthews injury and last year’s surprise success of Brad Jones, Chillar would be a great addition to the outside linebacker core if he ever needs to be an emergency fill-in. Furthermore, Matthews injury should keep him out only about one more week or so and Brad Jones continues to impress me again this preseason.
10.) Was it just me, or did anyone notice that during the Green Bay Packers opening offensive starter introductions graphic across the bottom of the screen, that fellow offensive tackle Allen Barbre’s picture was in place of Mark Tauscher’s?