I have to admit that I didn't watch this game quite as close as the previous two, you know for some reason or another. Despite this, I volunteered for this post because the winners and losers of this game aren't too hard to surface. The major reason for this is that the game was still very much a tale of two offenses. The starters were great, the backups weren't so great. The defense was a bit more consistent. The starters were pretty good and the backups weren't bad. One side note before we get too far into this: I promised myself that I would not include Graham Harrell among the losers this week. He didn't light things up, but I will give him one week off from being in the loser category. As always let's start with the players who played their way a little closer to a roster spot.
1. Cedric Benson. No surprise here. Benson had some good, hard runs and the best performance by a Packer RB so far this preseason. He's the first back to give us Packer fans a real hope for a running game...and he did it against his old team too. Not too shabby.
2. Jamari Lattimore. Inside Linebacker is a funny spot to watch this year. Right now it looks like there are lots of pretty good players, but no definitively great players. As a result it has been hard for me to draw a line of guys on the bubble and those that could be considered the core of the team. Lattimore's strong performance (and most notably his pick six) helped seperate himself from the rest of the pack.
3. Tom Crabtree. I'll admit this one might be a stretch, but hang with me here. Crabtree has long had his detractors who point out his absolutely liability in the offense when he's not blocking. In Thursday's game he showed that he has some ability to be a downfield target and was able to hold on to a deep pass despite taking a big time hit. Seriously, the hits in the regular season are not going to be much harder than what Taylor Mays put on him. Crabtree will never be the weapon Jermichael Finley is or what D.J. Williams / Andrew Quarless may become, but he can be more than what many give him credit for.
1. Marshall Newhouse. Well last week was a nice memory wasn't it? Newhouse struggled a bit in Thursday's game against the Bengals. He drew some penalties and allowed some pressures and looked like the weakest link of the Packers offensive line.
2. James Starks. Starks is in trouble if Benson continues to run like he did against the Bengals. He is going to need to find a way to get healthy and get on the field. Worse though is that Benson running well with this starting line starts to show that maybe the problem with the Packers' running game wasn't the line like some believed, maybe it was simply a lack of talent at the HB position for the last couple years.
3. John Kuhn. Tough night for Kuhn. Tough preseason actually. On Thursday he didn't run well and fumbled the ball. Not a way to top off a preseason marked by inconsistent play and injury. His roster spot should be safe for now but if this disappointment drags into the regular season it could spell danger for this fan favorite and hero of the people.
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