Alas, the Packers failed to score a single point in Friday night's tilt with the Cardinals. While that's certainly disconcerting, there are some positive takeaways from the game. Here are the winners and losers from the first game of the preseason.
There was no more obvious winner from Friday night's game than David Bakhtiari. Not only was he stellar in pass protection once again, but he displayed great instincts in the running game. Mike McCarthy called most of the runs to his side, and he regularly got to the second level. There's certainly potential to overhype Bakhtiari this early. The Cardinals threw only simple looks at Bakhtiari on Friday, and the pressure is going to ratchet up with each passing week. That said, it's hard not to get excited when a young player steps up in such a critical way.
I'm on record saying as the Packers only keep five wide receivers this season. However, with the injuries to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb thinning the ranks, it's hard not to wonder if Ted Thompson is going to go the safe route again this year and carry six heading into the season. Not only did Tyrone Walker play well in the Cardinals game, but he's also stacked a series of great practices so far in training camp. He's still another good preseason game or two away from really entering the conversation for the final roster, but his five catches for 41 yards brought a step closer.
Sam Barrington didn't get on the field until late in the first preseason game, but he twice found a way to penetrate the middle of the Cardinals' offensive line and drop the ball carrier in the backfield. Arizona doesn't have the league's best offensive line, or likely even league average protection, but an inside linebacker who can pressure the quarterback is always going to have value. We'll have to wait to see Barrington do it again against a stronger opponent, but if he repeats this performance, he'll have a great shot at making the final roster.
Placing Barclay on Friday's losers list is certainly nitpicking a bit, but he doesn't have much margin for error. With Bakhtiari becoming more and more entrenched at left tackle, it's a one-on-one competition between Barclay and Marshall Newhouse to bookend the offensive line. While Newhouse had his own bad moment (giving up the pressure that lead to Graham Harrell's fumble loss), he mostly played well. Barclay on the other hand regularly struggled with his footwork. Most significantly, he was flagged for a false start penalty. The coaches will give Barclay a chance, but he's not on even footing with Newhouse. If he were, Barclay wouldn't be splitting his time between right tackle, right guard, and center. A better performance is needed if Barclay wants to stay in this race.
The Backup Quarterbacks
There's no way to put a positive spin on it; the backup quarterbacks were dreadful Friday night. Even if we discount Graham Harrell's interception as the result of a bad route by Jeremy Ross, Harrell lost a fumble on non-blindside protection in the first half. Worse, many of his passes featured the same fluttering we've seen for the past two years. He wasn't totally incompetent, but the Packers need him to play much better going forward.
The Family Night scrimmage was a harbinger of things to come for B.J. Coleman. Once again, accuracy was his Achilles' heel. To be fair, a few of Coleman's passes were dropped by his receivers. However, that doesn't excuse the poor ball placement and even poorer footwork he displayed last night.
It's hard to really get a read on Vince Young. He's extremely limited right now due to his inexperience with the Packers' offense. But there's no way around the fact that Young looks like a quarterback who's been out of the league for a year.
Neither Mason Crosby nor Giorgio Tavecchio attempted a field goal Friday night. As a result, the coaches still only have the Family Night scrimmage to look at when it comes to game-like situations for the kickers. Crosby, who missed four of his six attempts in the post-scrimmage kicking competition didn't get a chance to right the ship. The longer Family Night sticks in his head, the worse things could potentially get for the embattled place kicker.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn