After “studying the tape” (that sounds better than “turning on the computer”), here are the heroes and the zeros from Saturday’s 21-17 preseason win over Washington:
BACKUP QUARTERBACKS – Brett Hundley‘s numbers were excellent (9 of 10 for 107 yards and 1 TD), but they don’t do him justice. Under decent pressure and with only one receiver winning isolation routes (Jeff Janis), the former UCLA star stayed calm and found ways to move the ball down the field. This was the Hundley that excited everyone two summers ago. This was the Hundley that will excite GMs in the offseason. The only real negative on the night was not seeing a wide open Lance Kendricks in the end zone. Taysom Hill looked like Steve Young as he ran wild against future construction workers. Still, the rookie from BYU made plays for the second straight game – including the winning TD – and that’s all you can do as an undrafted rookie.
YOUNG CORNERS – After a shaky debut, top draft pick Kevin King looked like a starting caliber corner on Saturday night. Going up against some very good wide receivers, the former Washington star more than held his own. Terrelle Pryor’s size (6’6) can be a big – pardon the pun – problem for a lot of defensive backs, but the 6-foot-3 King was up to the task. And while lightning-quick Jamison Crowder had a little more success creating separation, he certainly wasn’t running away from the rookie. Another young corner, Josh Hawkins, also acquitted himself well. The former undrafted free agent started, and despite giving up some plays, never backed down and jarred the ball out of big Vernon Davis’ hands on third down. I raved about Hawkins all last summer, and after a slow start this year, he’s beginning to live up to my hype.
BACKUP O-LINEMEN – Another young player who stepped up was rookie Kofi Amichia, who got pushed all over the field in the preseason opener. The sixth-round pick was a different player vs. Washington. He was more physical in the run game and his technique was much better in pass protection. And even his “worst” play – a penalty in the third quarter – was kind of impressive. In the video below, watch how quickly Amichia picks up the free pass rusher. He may have held, but he also saved his QB from taking a big hit.
Second-year pro Kyle Murphy also improved from a rough preseason opener. Playing 19 snaps at right tackle, the former Stanford star allowed only one pressure. And while speed will always give the slow-footed 310-pounder trouble, he has a solid base and a good understanding of angles. With Jason Spriggs really struggling on the left side – much more on that later – it might be time to give Murphy a look over there.
Honorable mention: Wide receiver Jeff Janis caught three passes and was open a few other times. “Mr. August” tracked a 38-yard catch beautifully – something he often struggles to do… Lucas Patrick was solid again at both center and guard. He outplayed Justin McCray… Defensive lineman Christian Ringo proved nearly impossible to block in passing situations. The third-year pro was simply too quick for Washington’s backup guards and centers… Cornerbacks Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter and safety Marwin Evans continued to stack successes. All three players were physical against the run and solid in coverage.
BACKUP EDGE RUSHERS – Outside linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Jayrone Elliott got a chance to face starting tackles, and the results weren’t pretty – at least as far as getting pressure on the QB is concerned. Fackrell, who did a few positive things in coverage, was no match for All-Pro Trent Williams. Elliott had the easier opponent (Morgan Moses), but he fared no better. It might be time to see what Reggie Gilbert can do against better competition. I think the only person not worried about the depth at this position coming into camp was GM Ted Thompson. It’s difficult to believe he still feels comfortable now.
SPECIAL TEAMS – After last week’s heroics, Trevor Davis only needed to hold onto the ball for the next three games to secure a spot on the 53-man roster. Easier said than done. His muff in the first quarter cost the Packers 3 points and may wind up costing him his job. Coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t tolerate fumbles from his returners – something Davis learned the hard way last season. Punter Justin Vogel also struggled after an impressive showing vs. the Eagles. He has too strong of a leg to look like Jake Schum.
YOUNG RECEIVERS – Saturday night wasn’t alright for Max McCaffrey and rookie DeAngelo Yancey, who struggled to get open against backup corners. While both youngsters are blessed with size, neither is particularly quick into and out of cuts. That’s one of the things that separate the really good big receivers like Davante Adams from the rest. Right now, McCaffrey and Yancey look like they belong in the “rest” category. Davis is quicker into and out of cuts, but he struggled beating press coverage and his routes were imprecise.
JASON SPRIGGS (AGAIN) – It was another depressing night for the young left tackle, who struggled to block players far less talented than Derek Barnett, last week’s tormentor. It’s time to worry. The former second-round pick from Indiana may never be Anthony Munoz, but he shouldn’t look like Allen Barbre in pass protection. It’s clear he’s lost confidence in himself. It’s only a matter of time before the coaches do as well.
Dishonorable mention: King shined on defense, but his work on special teams wasn’t as impressive. He didn’t even slow down the gunner on the punt that was muffed by Davis… McCray struggled mightily at guard before moving to center and playing a lot better. He’s going to have a hard time sticking on the final 53-man roster if he can’t adequately handle multiple positions… Guard Geoff Gray was extremely inconsistent – which is no shock considering he was lining up for the University of Manitoba nine months ago. His good plays are very good, but his bad plays are very bad. There were too many of the latter on Saturday night… Given the quality depth at safety, the Packers are using Jerome Whitehead exclusively at corner this training camp. He competes on every down, but lacks the fluidity to play the position at this level.
–photo courtesy of packers.com
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