Individual performances weigh a little heavier this week with the cutdown to 75 mere days away. Some cuts have already been made, while news about the others should trickle in over the next few days. As for now, here are the winners and losers from the third preseason game.
Prior to the Seahawks game, Nick Perry's play would have been characterized as steady if unspectacular. That changed after Perry tipped a Russell Wilson pass to Casey Hayward for an interception (more on that later). He also had two other big tackles, each nearly a tackle for loss. Perry is an integral to the Packers producing an effective pass rush. He doesn't have to be an All-Pro or even a Pro Bowler. All the team needs from him is to keep the opposing team from doubling and tripling Clay Matthews in pass protection.
In a vacuum, Vince Young's game probably wouldn't qualify as "spectacular." Early during his first drive, he threw what should have been an interception. Later on, he misfielded a shotgun snap, pinning the Packers at their own five yard line. Yet Young was arguably the ultimate winner Friday night as he not only led the offense to its only touchdown of the night, but he also won the backup quarterback job. That's all the more impressive considering he only joined the team on August 5. Young still doesn't have a full grasp of the Packers' playbook, but he now has the rest of the season to figure it out.
If there was any thought that Mike Daniels wasn't going to be a part of the 2013 Packers, that door was slammed shut after his performance against the Seahawks. Seattle running backs had no luck running at him. Likewise, the Seahawks' offensive line couldn't keep him out of the backfield. Daniels' night would have been even better had his sack and forced fumble of Brady Quinn not been wiped out by an offsides penalty on Datone Jones. Either way, Daniels looks to be a better player in 2013 than he was as a rookie.
Brad Jones gets knocked for not being a flashy player. While that's hardly a smart standard for success (especially for 3-4 inside linebackers), Jones demonstrated that he is indeed capable of that kind of play. In addition to several tackles around the line of scrimmage, Jones penetrated the inside of Seattle's offensive line for a 9 yard sack. The only negative of his night was that a hamstring injury that forced him to leave the game. Unless it turns out to be serious, Friday was a great night for Jones.
Like Jones, Hayward had an effective albeit abbreviated appearance against the Seahawks. As mentioned earlier, Hayward snatched a deflected pass for an interception, his first of the preseason. While it's never quite satisfying to just say a player has a nose for the football, there's no other way to describe Hayward. Hopefully he didn't re-aggravate his hamstring injury too badly as the Packers will be depending on him come the regular season.
Graham Harrell was already destined for the "Losers" list before the Packers decided to part ways with him Saturday afternoon. After three years in their system, Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff could no longer ignore the lack of development Harrell exhibited. It's a disappointment, as at one point Harrell did seem to possess the characteristics of McCarthy's next quarterback success. Instead, he might only be remembered for fumbling his first NFL snap.
James Starks didn't have a single bad play Friday for anyone to point to. Unfortunately, that's because Starks never entered the game. After being one of the early bright spots of training camp, the beleaguered running back is all but officially a former member of the Green Bay Packers. While Ted Thompson will shop Starks around in the coming days, he's unlikely to find a trade partner. At that point, Starks will receive his release from the team.
Nobody was expecting Loyce Means to make the Packers' final roster or even the practice squad. However, a strong showing in the preseason could have earned the former-CFLer a chance to sign with another NFL team. Those prospects took a hit after Means drew two consecutive penalties near the end of the first half and was beaten multiple times by the Seattle backups. For all his physical gifts, Means does not have the instincts to handle cornerback at the NFL level, at least not right now.
After David Bakhtiari, Greg Van Roten had perhaps the most promising performance in the Packers' preseason game against the Cardinals. Van Roten followed that up with a mixed showing in St. Louis. He bottomed out Friday, being badly beaten several times by Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald. While he was hardly the only Packers' offensive lineman to struggle in the run game, Van Roten's performance stood out as the worst. Because of his ability to play center, Van Roten is still likely to make the 53-man roster. However, he's no longer the lock he appeared to be a week ago.
You know as a player that if the only playing time you receive in the third preseason game comes in the fourth quarter, a single mistake can sink your chances of making the team. Such a mistake - a fumble near the goal line - may have been Jake Stoneburner's undoing. With Jermichael Finley, Matthew Mulligan, D.J. Williams, Andrew Quarless, and Brandon Bostick all ahead of him, Stoneburner's only chance of sticking in Green Bay was to make the practice squad. That possibility is in question after Friday night.
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