In the most important game of the preseason, the scoreboard indicated a job well done by Mike McCarthy’s crew. Despite lining up against one of the league least-talented clubs, the Packers flashed several undeniable positives, including the mere existence of a pass rush. And still, some sloppiness was present in penalties, dropped passes and a muffed punt. The Packers didn’t exactly escape the injury bug, with Brad Jones, B.J. Raji and Jamari Lattimore leaving the game early.
On defense, Davon House continued to show why the coaching staff has been so keen to insert him in a variety of packages. House’s promising play comes at a good time as No.1 cornerback Sam Shields turned in his second puzzling performance of the preseason. While it’s only August and sample size is small, the Packers must have some concern for the $39 million man who has struggled against mediocre receivers and will face both Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall early in the regular season.
What has become increasingly clear is how valuable Micah Hyde is to this team – both in coverage and as a punt returner – despite a rocky showing against Oakland. Hyde has also shown the ability to quickly get to quarterbacks in blitzing situations, which should bode well with an improving pass rush that is clearly being influenced by the presence of Julius Peppers.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this year’s defense is the astounding depth at positions that haven’t exactly been loaded in recent years. Outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott continues to make a strong bid for the 53-man roster with a second outstanding performance in a row, which will surely result in the departure of at least one talented pass rusher. The unlucky party could be 2014 fourth-round pick Carl Bradford, who could have already been moved inside if it weren’t for backup inside linebackers, Sam Barrington and Jamari Lattimore.
On the other side of the ball, DuJuan Harris stole the spotlight after a forgettable performance in St. Louis last week. One could make the argument that this year’s backfield is the best that Green Bay has seen since the days of Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport. With Brandon Bostick out for several weeks, the Packers would certainly love that same depth at tight end, though Richard Rodgers likely solidified the starter title this week.
The focus of the Packers’ final preseason game against the Chiefs will certainly be the backup quarterback battle between Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien. Though Flynn has proven reliability, Tolzien is younger with more development potential and appears to have pulled ahead of Flynn after a strong Week 3 showing.