Green Bay faced its worst case scenario Sunday night in Atlanta, starting the game crippled without their starting offensive tackles. The injuries just continued to roll in as the game played out, creating some opportunities for the Packers young projects. With the injury numbers hitting double digits, the game became a bit chaotic, making it difficult to negatively judge any youngin’.
Kentrell Brice: Brice exited the game in the first half with his third injury in six games. At 23 years old, the Packers are giving the undrafted rookie the opportunity to play a large role, playing the back safety as Morgan Burnett heads into the front seven. Before exiting the game, Brice was one of the only Packers defenders bringing a lot of energy during the Falcons opening trot to the endzone. He made three tackles, first knocking Julio Jones out of bounds. Then he went for a knockout blow to Devonta Freeman, who took the blow, but was forced out of bounds. And for his final tackle of the drive and game, Brice made a diving tackle to keep Gabriel out of the endzone. Most eye opening, was his willingness to talk trash to the opponent. The Packers defense could use some of that energy.
Kyle Murphy: In the rookies second career start, he moved to left tackle due to injury. The left tackle position has been a position of strength in recent years thanks to David Bahktiari. Obviously, he was put into a tough position, facing a pro bowl pass rusher in Vik Beasley, but he played adequately. After all, the plan was for him to be a spot reserve this season. He has a lot of the tools needed to perform well in the Packers gameplan, and could be a great asset to the team in a smaller role. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the offensive line held up early.
Justin McCray: In his first opportunity to play in an NFL game, the guard stepping in at right tackle had a solid first half. The 25 year old was playing in the Arena Football League last season, essentially hoping to replicate Kurt Warners’ journey to the NFL. He took his starting opportunity and performed. Yes, his false start on 3rd and 1 killed a drive, and the second half led to a few huge hits on Rodgers. Yet, he still held his own as much as you could have hoped.
Geronimo Allison: He’s an x-factor for the offense, when everyone’s healthy, he has the tools to destroy the opponents fourth best coverage man. He didn’t have as powerful game as his rookie debut in Atlanta last season. With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb exiting the game, it was a potential moment to shine for uniquely built receiver. He reeled in three catches for 24 yards, which was neither good nor bad. The Packers offense was in shambles due to the offensive line, making it difficult to
Jamaal Williams: The second string rookie running back had a neutral performance in Atlanta, carrying the ball twice for four yards, along with a five yard catch. He hasn’t been given much chance to shine, and he certainly wasn’t given much room to run on either of his carries, six yards wasn’t awful.
Josh Jones: After Kentrell Brice went down with another injury, Josh Jones was inserted into his safety position for the first time this season. He was promising, getting his nose close to the ball. He ended the game with four tackles, one for loss, but he was around the ball a lot more than that. He’s also been an absolute monster on special teams. He may be the most talented gunner in the league. Punt coverage allows the rookie to get up to full speed, which is something for the local ambulance to keep an eye on. Not many special teams players will be able to block Jones, and he’s on the field to punish.
Youngin’ of the Week:
Kevin King: The Packers first pick in the draft stepped up in a time of need Sunday night, matching up with Julio Jones for most of the second half. Both Demarious Randall and Devon House couldn’t cut on a dime like the Falcons star receiver, leaving easy completions on out routes, and slants for Matt Ryan. King timed out a pass break up on a slant play covering Andre Roberts. In a veteran move, the rookie allowed the receiver create a little space, then made up ground when he saw the quarterback wind up, swatting the ball with his right arm. He was then switched onto Jones, and made it at least competitive for the star receiver, forcing an incompletion with him tight coverage on a fade route in the endzone. The rookie gave us a cup of hope during a difficult week.