The Green Bay Packers kicked off their preseason action in Lambeau vs the Cleveland Browns.  The Packers were very careful with their veteran starters, as most of our key offensive and defensive players got the night off, giving the young players the opportunity to impress the coaching staff.  The game certainly had the feel of a preseason game, but regardless here are the takeaways.

Offensively:

  • Jared Cook indeed gives us a physical presence at tight end that we lost long ago. Last night, he quickly showed Packer nation that he’s a serviceable weapon in the passing game.  He was a mismatch against Cleveland’s linebackers, creating space in his limited debut, finishing with two catches for ten yards, extending the drive with an eight yard connection from rookie free agent quarterback Joe Callahan.  It’ll be interesting to see if he and Rodgers have created any chemistry during Cook’s limited training camp after coming off foot surgery.
  • Mike McCarthy mentioned in both his pregame and halftime interviews that the Packers will focus on working the running game into the offense during the preseason as it is the only time in the modern NFL you can get real run game reps. That being said, the run game looked pretty solid last night, collectively the team averaged 3.7 yards per carry.  Eddy Lacy looked particularly solid running behind the starting offensive line going for 24 yards on four carries.  John Crocket and Brandon Burks, who will fight for the third running back position, both had their moments, but Brandon Burks ultimately showed more explosiveness during his game action, going for 45 yards on nine carries.
  • With Aaron Rodgers resting, and Brett Hundley unavailable due to his sprained ankle, the Pack sent out our two undrafted rookie quarterbacks, in what I would expect to be their best opportunity to show they’re worth to the league, with both Rodgers and Hundley expected to be back next week. Joe Callahan, who played his college ball at Wesley College in Delaware, got the start.  He showed good mobility in the pocket, getting himself out of trouble multiple times by sidestepping the rusher, and managed to move the ball against the Brown’s starting defense.  Callahan lead the team to a touchdown to end the half with a two yard pass to John Crocket, running the two minute drill very well with someone with so little experience against NFL caliber athletes.  Callahan finished with the stat line of 16 of 23, for 124 yards and a touchdown.  Marquis Williams, from North Carolina University, played the 2nd half for Green Bay.  The speed of the defensive secondary seemed to give Williams some problems, as he never got into a groove passing the ball finishing 6 of 14 for 55 yards, and an interception.  He did however show great promise running pulling the ball down and running.  He’s a very athletic player but, I expect Joe Callahan to get any third string reps from this point forward.
  • Obviously, Mason Crosby is still one kick ass kicker, hitting on two 54 yard field goals with some leg to spare on both attempts.

Defensively:

  • First and foremost, the Packers won the safety battle ya’ll. Cody Kessler ran out the back end of the end zone for the second safety, and Reido enjoyed it.
  • First round pick, Kenny Clark, struggled during his half of football to penetrate the offensive line. His effort and pass rushing moves both looked there, however I’m worried he simply doesn’t have the size to make a difference so early in the 20 year old’s career.  It’s too early to judge the youngin, but I have my worries as this Packers team needs a solid nose tackle to reach their Super Bowl heights.  Kenny Clark is in a tough spot, and by no means needs to contribute this year for his personal career, but we need more than what we saw last night.
  • The secondary had a nice night, outside of Damarious Randle getting beat on a deep connection between Terrelle Pyror and Robert Griffin the third, the starting unit managed to stay with the Browns receivers. Micah Hyde had the defensive play of the night jumping in front of Gary Barnidge for an interception at the one yard line.  Micah has made it his way of life to be in the right position defensively but ultimately coming up shy of making the play, so it was nice to see him put it all together, even in the first preseason game.
  • The Packers two young middle linebackers both showed the ability to get the defense set up in the correct position. Carl Bradford, a second year MLB who missed last season due to injury, was out to make the roster last night.  He made two big hits on receivers immediately after they caught a short pass, showing good field awareness continuously throughout the second half.  Kyle Frackrell also showed his potential rushing off the edge after getting his first sack of his NFL career early in the fourth quarter.  It’s easy to see what the organization liked about him, with his speed off the edge, we may have another serviceable option to take some pressure off Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers this season.  In other news, if Frackrell and Jabari Parker become stars in Wisconsin, the Mormon faith may be the next “lit.”
  • Rookie punter, Peter Mortell the Minnesota Gopher who was raised a Packer, outshined longtime punter Tim Masthay averaging 5 more yards per punt with all three of his punts ending up inside the twenty. It was an impressive go from a player the Packers could use to shine bright this preseason.  Masthay just doesn’t seem to have the same leg he did early on in his career.  The special teams unit could really use a shakeup at the punter position.

Expect to see the veteran starters next week, as the Packers take on the Oakland Raiders next Thursday, August 18th at Lambeau Field.  Start time: 7 pm CT.

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