June 12, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Casey Hayward (29) catches a ball during the team's mandatory minicamp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
We've been talking about things mostly in terms of how players performed in the preseason game against the San Diego Chargers over the last few days since the game. Today, we're at the half-way point between games, and we're probably going to start transitioning into talking about players in terms of what they need to do against the Cleveland Browns. With that in mind, we take a look at five non-starters on the Green Bay Packers roster that increased their stock going into Week 2 of preseason with their performances on Thursday.
1. Casey Hayward - A lot of people have a tendency to remember the bad mistakes guys make more than the subtle good plays, but that's absolutely not how we should think when evaluating rookies. The positives are much more important than the negatives. What we're looking for is potential above all else, because even the most polished rookies make mistakes.
Hayward did have a couple of glaring errors against the Chargers, but his flashes of brilliance outweighed the negatives by far. Coaches have been impressed with his performances and his progression, leading him to playing some snaps opposite Tramon Williams in the first-team defense. He out-performed Jarrett Bush on Thursday, and could be the starter as long as Davon House is out.
2. Graham Harrell - Even though he had poor protection and most of his receivers played poorly, Graham Harrell put in a solid performance on Thursday and looked like a legitimate No. 2 NFL quarterback. He's not as good as Matt Flynn, but that's okay. Flynn was the league's best backup and he left to fight for a starting job for good reason.
It's terrible news if Aaron Rodgers goes down, but not a disaster. Harrell had a couple of very solid series, and I'm confident that he's good enough to guide the team to a .500 or better record if something awful happens to Rodgers *knocks on wood*.
3. Randall Cobb - Can we really call Cobb a "non-starter"? It's up for debate. The Packers' "base" package might actually be a three-wide set, and I expect him to win the starting slot receiver job. In any event, he's not currently listed as a starter, and he had the best game of all of the wide receivers against San Diego. He got time with both the first and second team offenses, and I liked what I saw from him, even though Rodgers didn't get much time to work with him. Donald Driver isn't going down without a fight, but I like Cobb to win the slot role.
4. D.J. Smith - Though Smith is absolutely a starter now, he was not entering Week 1 of preseason. He played very well on Thursday and I have all of the faith in the world that he can step up and fill Desmond Bishop's shoes. He was very good when he was called upon last season and he appears to have built on that in the offseason. Smith looks like a starting-caliber inside linebacker in the NFL, and he'll have to continue to prove that he's up to the job throughout preseason.
5. Daniel Muir - We mentioned Muir's performance yesterday in a post about new members of the roster, but it's worth mentioning here as well. I wasn't sure what to think of Muir when we signed him, but he looked like a reliable backup nose tackle against the Chargers. He's also a heck of a lot more versatile than the now-departed Howard Green, so I think there's a spot on the roster for him.
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