The mood in Packerland is quiet and frankly quite scared following a Green Bay defeat on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field. The Packers lost much, much more than just a meaningless football game, as Jordy Nelson may very well be lost for the season with a knee injury, and many others were banged up.
We can talk about the injuries more in other stories, so let's focus on a few things that stood out today.
- A big spotlight was on Don Barclay today, as he lined up at left tackle for the first time in his NFL career. Tasked with keeping Aaron Rodgers upright, Barclay let linebacker James Harrison run right around him and sack Rodgers for a safety on the team's second drive. To nobody's surprise, that was Rodgers' last snap of the game. Barclay was again beat for a sack later in the half, this time by Jarvis Jones.
- Fullback Aaron Ripkowski is making a strong case for the team to keep two fullbacks on the 53-man roster when camp breaks. He was all over the field on special teams, making multiple tackles on returns. After the display the special teams unit put on last season, this type of player is exactly what they were looking for.
- The first unit offense was clinical on their opening possession, using just over five minutes to drive 80 yards on 10 plays. Eddie Lacy capped off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run. Rodgers finished 4/5 for 57 yards.
- Backup Scott Tolzien again looked sharp, going 11/19 for 102 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown strike to tight end Richard Rodgers down the left seam. With Rodgers leaving the game earlier than planned, Tolzien was given some reps with the first offense. This came with mixed results, however, as he underwent concussion testing and did not return following a sack.
- Rookie first-round pick Damarious Randall began the second half by intercepting an underthrown ball by Landry Jones. This was Randall's first game as a pro after missing the opener last week against New England. With ground to make up on fellow rookies Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter, Randall had a strong showing capped by the interception.
- Perhaps punter Tim Masthay needs competition again in camp. Many, if not all, of his eight punts were below average. He pinned just one inside the 20-yard-line, with an overall average of 43.3 yards.
- The overall play on both sides of the ball was far from pretty throughout the second half. The Packers only points came on a 55-yard Mason Crosby field goal following the Randall interception. For the half, Green Bay managed to gain just 17 total yards. The defense, meanwhile, surrendered 15 points in the final two quarters.
- Backup quarterbacks Brett Hundley and Matt Blanchard were highly ineffective, combining to go 4/8 for just 28 yards. They also took a combined three sacks. One of them will need to step up in a big way should Tolzien not be able to return right away.
- It could just be me, but there seemed to be a somber mood for the rest of the game following the Nelson injury. There was a concerned hush on the sideline, and uncertainty of what news is coming next seemed to take the wind out of everyone's sails. But who knows, that could just be my pessimism that seems to grow larger and larger after seeing a similar scene far too many times in the past.