Blue chips & cow chips from the Packers preseason opener

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Blue chips & cow chips from the Packers preseason opener
It's still early to make inferences on the impact of one preseason game, but it's not too early to make snap judgements and rash opinions while sitting on the couch. Here's some of the winners and losers from the first Green Bay Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Monday Night Football game:

The blue chip, premiere players:
  • Aaron Rodgers -- The Packers' new quarterback is the talk of the national media after leading the Packers' to two scoring drives and throwing for 117 yards in just a quarter of play. Rodgers didn't exactly get a ton of help either. A drop by Donald Driver on third and 17 negated what would have been a first down on the opening drive of the game. Another drop by Chris Francies resulted in an interception when the ball bounced off of him. Rodgers was also plagued by shaky pass protection from guard Josh Sitton and running back Brandon Jackson.
  • The middle linebackers -- Nick Barnett picked up where he left off last year when he was making plays from sideline to sideline. He was second on the team in tackles with five despite only playing for about three series. He was also involved in all four of the team's first four tackles of the game. Production didn't decline once Barnett left the field either. Abdul Hodge showed he's back from knee surgery in a big way. Hodge led the team in tackles with six, one of them going for a loss. He was very active always showing up where the ball was. Desmond Bishop did himself no favors when he couldn't play and Hodge could.

The red chip, solid players:

  • Tramon Williams -- Getting an opportunity to start in place of inactives Al Harris and Charles Woodson, Williams made the most of his chances. He frequently shadowed star receiver Chad Johnson and didn't allow any big plays. He also showed he's worthy of being of teaming up with Will Blackmon as the team's top kick return duo when he took two kickoffs for a 24.5 yard average.
  • Brandon Jackson & Kregg Lumpkin -- The only thing that prevented the two reserve running backs from being blue chips were one big mental error apiece. Jackson totally whiffed on a Bengals blitzing safety that led to a sack of Aaron Rodgers. Lumpkin, meanwhile, fumbled the football on the Packers' possession in the fourth quarter of the game when they were down by three points. Working in their favor was that Jackson averaged 7.3 yards per carry with Lumpkin averaging 5.1. Lumpkin also scored a touchdown on a screen pass. They're young and will learn from their mistakes.

The cow chip, forgettable players:

  • Jon Ryan -- Ryan totally shanked one punt for 15 yards and had another that was partially blocked that went for 14 yards. Two more punts reached the endzone. His final net aveage was 31.3 yards, a good high school punter can do better than that. Consistency has been his problem.
  • Several offensive rookies - Brian Brohm was terrible in relief of Rodgers. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw and interception. If Flynn has another good outing, he could vault in front of Brohm for the top backup job. Fifth round offensive linemen Josh Sitton and Breno Giacomini also looked like flops. Sitton underachieved with a penalty and giving up a sack after being inserted into the starting lineup. Giacomini was routinely outperformed by the players on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
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