The Green Bay Packers took on the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday in their first live game action of the preseason. There were injuries, big plays and not so great plays that defined the first night of action. While veterans like Aaron Rodgers were able to take the night off, the rookies with the team were the ones that needed a high volume of snaps.
Coach Mike McCarthy has to see what these players are made of, but keep in mind that any one preseason game won’t define a player’s chances to make the roster. It’s an accumulation of practice, preseason games, as well as effort that can impact whether a player makes the practice squad, active roster, or be looking for work elsewhere.
Let’s recap some key performances by who rookies may have improved or harmed their position on the roster.
Kevin King had a big spotlight on him during this first preseason matchup. As the Packers’ top overall pick, it’s expected that he should be competing for a spot as the top corner on the defense. King had to replace Damarious Randall on the defense quite early as Randall was removed from the game with a concussion. Overall, King had an okay night. He recorded five tackles (one of which led to another defender being able to jar the ball loose), but also had one pretty badly missed tackle that led to a first quarter Eagles touchdown. He was also beaten pretty badly in the second quarter for a big gain. King will need to use this game to learn from mistakes, but he’s coming along.
Rookie safety Josh Jones had a similar game experience. He was hampered by some rough plays and bad angles, but he did tie for the most snaps of the night so I believe the coaching staff has a lot of confidence in him to overcome mistakes.
Much like Kevin King, there's a learning curve for safety Josh Jones. Tough angle on this check down to Clement. pic.twitter.com/JbUC606KzE— Michael Cohen (@Michael_Cohen13) August 11, 2017
The rookie wide receivers really proved that there will be some tough decisions coming for the coaching staff on offense. Rookie Malachi Dupre was taken off the field on a stretcher and is in the concussion protocol. As unfortunate as that is for Dupre, it leaves a lot of opportunity for others on the bubble to make some noise.
WR Michael Clark found his way into the end zone on a good back shoulder route with a well-placed ball from Taysom Hill. DeAngelo Yancey also hauled in a big catch over a defensive back on a pass that was left hanging a touch too long by Hill. Yancey ended the game with three catches for 67 yards. He also fumbled on a play, however.
While rookie QB Taysom Hill put together a decent outing (four completions on five attempts for 69 yards and a touchdown), his backfield counterparts were less productive. Jamaal Williams took the most carries out of the rookie running back group with 4, but only managed 14 yards from them. Aaron Jones, meanwhile, got two carries with 0 yards. As a whole, the running game was largely disappointing from the top to bottom starting with Ty Montgomery and his fumble. The unit finished with 18 combined carries and 47 yards. A little concerning if you’re a Packers fan, but much like a QB-WR connection, a good running game requires rhythm too and may take a little while to find, especially with shuffling on the offensive line.
Not to be over-shadowed, the Packers got a strong performance by rookie punter Justin Vogel. While the Packer field goal unit works through some issues, Vogel did a good job at helping with the field position battle. Of his six punts, he managed to put 5 within the 20-yard line. Little victories like that can go a long way into winning games.
With more practice, the Packers will hope to see more improvements in the weeks to come. The Pack is back to preseason action next Saturday (Aug. 19) as they visit the Washington professional football team.