Packers vs. Chargers: Green Bay's Biggest Winners and Losers

Brian Carriveau@@BrianCarriveauContributor IAugust 10, 2012

Packers vs. Chargers: Green Bay's Biggest Winners and Losers

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    The Green Bay Packers opened the preseason with a loss on the road to the San Diego Chargers, 21-13, but with all preseason games, the outcome of the game matters little.

    What counts are the individual performances, the guys looking to become starters and those trying to earn roster spots.

    Perhaps most importantly, you look for a clean bill of health in the preseason, and unfortunately for the Packers, they had two players forced to leave the game, the extent of their injuries still unknown.

Winner: Davon House

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    It is with much trepidation that Davon House is listed as a winner from Thursday's game. While he had a terrific performance, House left the game in the third quarter with an unknown injury.

    House was hurt while covering a punt as a gunner on special teams, which is a shame because he may have taken the lead in the battle to become a starter at cornerback.

    Locked in a battle with Jarrett Bush, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward, House made his presence known with solid play against the pass and the run.

    In the first half House stayed stride for stride with Chargers receiver Vincent Brown to break up a pass down the sideline and force a punt. He also made one of four tackles for a three-yard loss on running back Curtis Brinkley by taking out his legs.

    For all the issues the Packers had last season with missed tackles, House definitely made a strong statement in his bid to join the starters. Now he just has to get lucky in the injury department.

Loser: Desmond Bishop

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    Without a doubt, Desmond Bishop was a hard-luck loser in the loss to the Chargers, and it had nothing to do with how he performed.

    Just days after returning to action after a mild calf injury sustained prior to training camp, Bishop had to be helped off the field after what appeared to be an injury to his knee and possibly his hamstring.

    While his prognosis is not yet know, head coach Mike McCarthy was quoted after the game by Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette as saying, "Desmond's injury didn't look too good."

    Bishop has been the best inside linebacker on the Packers the past two seasons, and if he misses any time, his absence will be felt. Fortunately for the Packers, they've accumulated some good depth at the position, but that does little to ease the pain of Bishop's loss.

    For the time being, D.J. Smith will take over for Bishop next to A.J. Hawk. Whether Bishop will be able to come back this season remains to be seen.

Winner: Nick Perry

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    Following what some might describe as a quiet start to training camp, rookie outside linebacker Nick Perry is starting to make himself heard.

    Perry had a positive performance during the Packers' intra-squad scrimmage last week and followed that up with another good outing on Thursday in San Diego.

    On the second play from scrimmage, Perry bull rushed the Chargers right tackle and helped to flush the quarterback in a play that would end in a sack.

    It could be argued that Perry's sack of Philip Rivers was a "coverage sack," but no one can take away the his hustle in tracking the quarterback down.

    Even when the starters came out of the game, Perry remained in with the second string as it was clear the coaches wanted to get a long look at their first-round draft choice.

    So far, so good.

Loser: Herb Taylor

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    With Marshall Newhouse ruled out of the preseason opener after suffering a concussion in last Friday's Family Night scrimmage, the Packers turned to Herb Taylor.

    In a perfect world, the Packers would have inserted last year's first-round draft choice, Derek Sherrod, in the starting lineup, but he hasn't practiced since training camp began while he remains on the PUP list.

    Taylor had a difficult time handling Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram, a first-round draft choice this past April.

    Just two possessions into the game, Taylor allowed Ingram to hit Rodgers while releasing the ball, which resulted in an interception.

    With little depth on the offensive line, Taylor remained in the game even when the starters exited, but things didn't get much better as the veteran offensive lineman remained on his heels all evening.

    To make matters worse, Taylor also had an offensive holding penalty in the first quarter that was declined when the Packers threw a pass incomplete.

Winner: Tramon Williams

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    Considering the 2011 season didn't go exactly the way Tramon Williams planned, the way his 2012 began can only be described as a pleasant development.

    Last year, Williams had a shoulder injury in Week 1 that caused nerve damage, and as a consequence, he lost a lot of strength.

    Williams battled through the injury, but he didn't have as good a season as he probably would have liked. 

    On Thursday, Williams was able to step in front of a Philip Rivers' first-quarter pass intended for receiver Robert Meacham and return it for 16 yards. It was a lot like many of Williams' interceptions, like he knew it was coming.

    The Packers defense didn't exactly perform well last season, but they did lead the NFL in interceptions. If the first preseason game was any indication, maybe they'll continue down the same path in 2012.

Loser: James Starks

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    With Ryan Grant out of the picture, James Starks is the starting running back by default in Green Bay, but after his performance on Thursday, he may have to watch his back.

    On the Packers' first play from scrimmage, Starks dropped a dumpoff pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers that hit him square in the hands.

    Six plays later, Starks couldn't corral a handoff from Rodgers, which resulted in a turnover and gave possession to the Chargers. San Diego turned the fumble into a touchdown in just two more plays.

    Alex Green is being brought along slowly after his knee injury last season, and Brandon Saine has been limited by a hamstring injury of his own during training camp, but when they're up to speed, they may provide a challenge to Starks.

Winner: Randall Cobb

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    Randall Cobb was a favorite target of quarterback Graham Harrell in San Diego and scored a touchdown late in the second quarter that pulled the Packers within one score of the Chargers, 14-7.

    The final statistics from Cobb were modest, four catches for 58 yards, but how often he was targeted by Harrell really tells the story.

    In the first half alone, Cobb was the intended receiver on eight passes, which was more than anyone else on the team.

    On special teams, Cobb wasn't about to take any chances, but he also cleanly fielded two punts for the Packers in the second half.

Loser: Shaky Smithson

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    Shaky Smithson doesn't get many chances, so when one does come along, he has to make them count.

    That didn't happen on Thursday as Smithson muffed his only punt return opportunity in the first half of the game against the Chargers.

    Fortunately, the Packers recovered and maintained possession, but Smithson did little to instill confidence in his abilities and may have assured he'll be cut sooner rather than later.

    He didn't catch so much as a single pass on offense, either.

Winner: Dezman Moses

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    It may not show up in the statistics how well Dezman Moses played on Thursday, but the undrafted rookie linebacker had a solid outing.

    Moses entered the game on the defense's second series of the game after Clay Matthews exited the game and immediately showed the hustle he's displayed throughout training camp.

    Only one tackle is all it will say next to Moses' name in the boxscore, but his impact was bigger than that. Combined with Nick Perry, the two rookie outside linebackers look to have a bright future in Green Bay.

    Also a key player on special teams, Moses showed he has a nose for the football by constantly being around the returner.

Loser: M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian

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    The Packers didn't get solid safety play from either M.D. Jennings or Jerron McMillian against the Chargers, which they could have used after parting ways with both Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah in the offseason.

    Charles Woodson didn't play in Thursday's game, so there were plenty of opportunities for Jennings and McMillian, and for the most part, they came up short.

    Jennings got turned around on a touchdown pass by Antonio Gates in the first quarter on a play that Jennings could have prevented.

    As for McMillian, he missed a tackle on Vincent Brown's second-quarter touchdown and missed an earlier tackle as well.

    The Packers can only hope Thursday was a learning experience for their two young rookies and not a sign of things to come.