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Preseason: Packers 13, Jacksonville 21

The big story in the loss to Jacksonville is the injury to WR Donald Driver. FOX's Chris Myers said during the game it wasn't an ankle sprain but a foot injury, however Mike McCarthy in the above linked article said it was an ankle injury. For what it's worth, since he was so tentative to put any weight as he was helped to the cart, it looks like a severe ankle sprain.

In the first half, it made a big difference to play against Jacksonville this week which had the 3rd best defense and was 3rd best against the run last season compared to Seattle who had the 23rd best run defense last season. The offensive line didn't open anything up for RB Brandon Jackson and he had no cut back lanes. However, the offensive line was pretty good in pass protection, only struggling early when LG Daryn Colledge got bull rushed into QB Brett Favre for a sack. The 1st team offense was able to move the ball on nearly every possession, but a failed 4th down conversion and a WR James Jones fumble killed two good drives. However TE Bubba Franks had another big reception, followed up with a good catch by TE Donald Lee, and both tight ends appear to be playing very well. What a first half for Jones who was spectacular getting open in the middle of the field and when he had to fight the for the ball. The calf injury suffered by RG Jason Spitz isn't as serious a blow as the injury to Driver, but hopefully that isn't a problem either. OL Junius Coston got a lot more playing time too and he has looked very good this preseason as a backup tackle. It looked like they abandoned the run, but since Jacksonville is so good at run defense and the Packers have so few healthy running backs, this probably wasn't a bad idea. The defensive line was playing a much better Jacksonville offensive line than they played against Seattle last week. They didn't dominate like they did against Seattle and struggled some early, but by the second quarter the front four was putting consistent pressure on QB Byron Leftwich and playing good run defense. All of them played well, but DT Corey Williams stood out primarily for busting up the middle on one of Jacksonville's failed 4th down attempts. The line didn't make a lot of plays, but they kept the blockers off the linebackers who did make a lot of big hits in the half. None of them bigger than rookie 6th round LB Desmond Bishop, who knocked WR Reggie Williams' helmet off on two separate  hits. How Williams was able to hold onto the ball after the first hit was amazing. The defense rarely blitzed Leftwich, unlike last week against Seattle when it happened a lot, but it didn't help him at all. A shut out, 10-0 lead at half time by the first units is pretty good.

The second half was not in favor of the Packers. There were some good plays, such as Bishop continuing to be all over the field, S Aaron Rouse had a big hit, and K Mason Crosby continues to impress. QB Aaron Rodgers led a TD drive to end the first half, but he struggled in the third quarter. His biggest problem is that he is bad at taking sacks and had three in the third quarter alone. Jackson looked good pass blocking in the first half, but his whiff on one block led to a Rodgers sack. DT Justin Harrell disappointed me the most. He seemed to show no pursuit and couldn't penetrate on run or pass plays against Jacksonville's 2nd and 3rd offensive lines. There were few standout plays by the backup defense. On offense, the backup offensive line opened up some huge running lanes for RB Corey White, but 3rd string QB Ingle Martin was bad and probably threw himself off the team with the INT that was returned for a TD. He shouldn't lose his job to 4th string QB Paul Thompson, who had two INTs against Seattle. I would expect both Martin and Thompson will be released and the Packers look to see who is available on waivers at the end of preseason.

I'd better not neglect the special teams, which played well in the game. The return men didn't have any opportunities because Jacksonville's kickers did a good job at kicking it deep and near the sidelines or inside the 20. However, the Packers kick coverage was very good and Jacksonville got nothing on their returns until late in the 4th quarter. Again, both Ks Dave Rayner and Mason Crosby looked good, but hopefully they keep Crosby. P Jon Ryan had some good kicks, but it wasn't good to see the touchback on his only attempt to pin Jacksonville inside the 20.