It was an exciting finish for the Green Bay Packers in their preseason victory over the Colts. The final score was 24-21 and the Packers scored their final 11 points with just under a minute left in the game, They had a touchdown and two-point conversion, followed by a 50 yard field goal after they recovered an onside kick.
But the Colts must be under orders to lose preseason games. They haven't won one since August 20, 2009, and they haven't won more than two preseason games in a single season since 2004. We covered the very disappointing games for LT Chad Clifton and S Morgan Burnett in an earlier recap (Burnett concerns me more since he should have been called for pass interference too, while Clifton has some bad games from time-to-time). But a few other players caught my eye.
Graham Harrell. Nice comeback, but an earlier INT led to the eight point deficit he had to overcome. His night would have been even better but rookie TE D.J. Williams dropped one pass for a 3rd down conversion, and was the intended target on another 3rd down pass attempt. If those two had been on the same page, it would have been a different night for Harrell. He's still not ready to start for any NFL team, but he has some potential and I can see he's improving which is all that can be expected of him now.
The first team offense. If it weren't for the pressure from Dwight Freeney, the offense would have dominated. Still, they managed three scoring drives (1 TD, 1 FG and 1 FG missed) in first two quarters. They're definitely ready for the regular season to start.
TE Ryan Taylor. He didn't get onto the field until late in the game, and when I finally saw him, my first thought was that there's just no place on the roster for him. And then he catches four 4th quarter passes (3 receptions including a touchdown, plus a two-point conversion) that were tough catches in traffic. Now I don't know how they can keep him off the roster.
LT Derek Sherrod. After struggling, sometimes badly, at left guard in their first two preseason games, he looked much better this week playing exclusively as the second-team left tackle. He still wasn't perfect, but he made the case that he's the best backup lineman.
WR Kerry Taylor. If you were watching kick and punt returns in the second half, you would have seen Taylor return a kick for 33 yards and a punt for 25. He's got some elusiveness as a returner. Unfortunately he's not a big guy, and he's not much of a receiver (he dropped another pass on Friday night). They've got no way of keeping him on the roster, which is too bad because he has some promise as a returner.
WR Chastin West. It wasn't a big statistical night (2 rec. for 12 yards) but he had a touchdown called back on a holding penalty. He caught every pass thrown to him, and he's looking good. If they want to keep six wide receivers (it's possible) then he'd be the guy. I don't think they'll be able to stash him on the practice squad again this season.
LB D.J. Smith. The undersized inside linebacker had a sack on 3rd down, and was very close to making a huge run stop on a 3rd down conversion. He reminds me of Desmond Bishop back in his rookie season when he surprised me by looking good enough to make the team. I expect Smith too will make the team because they need to keep someone as a backup LB, and he's shown signs of becoming a solid special teams tackler.
CB Sam Shields. You might have seen him getting beat a few times by Reggie Wayne on Friday night, but I found some promising signs. He missed the first preseason game, didn't look too sharp last week against the Cardinals, and actually looked better at the Colts. He made a great pass deflection, wasn't responsible for Wayne's long touchdown catch, and Wayne makes life difficult for a lot of good cornerbacks.
LB Vic So'oto. There has been talk about him at practice, but the undrafted rookie hadn't shown off in the preseason. Well he showed up against the Colts. He had one sack and forced a fumble against their starting right tackle. He's more bull rusher than speed rusher, and he's sort of Erik Walden like. I expect it's a given he stays with the team.
LB Jamari Lattimore. He's another undrafted outside LB who's had some buzz around him at practice. He had a big second half with a sack and two quarterback pressures. He did it with speed, and a bull rush. But at only 230 lbs., it's hard to imagine him playing during the regular season. He might be too good to let go, but his possible role isn't clear. If he did stay, then he and Walden would give the Packers two linebackers from Middle Tennessee State.
CB Davon House. The rookie fourth round pick made his first appearance of the preseason, wearing No. 31 and showing off a very similar hairstyle to the Packers long time No. 31, CB Al Harris. He looked a little rough, and missed at least one tackle, but also showed some potential.
RT Marshall Newhouse. I had been writing well about him this week, and he shows me up by allowing a sack in limited playing time.
LG T.J. Lang. In his first extended playing time at left guard with the first team offense, he looked very solid. For most of the first half, he did a good job forming a pocket and creating a running lane for Rodgers, when needed. Clifton struggled against Freeney on the left side, but that didn't seem to be a problem because of Lang.