An NFL team’s distribution of workload among various players in the fourth and final preseason game can reflect the team’s attitudes about certain players. While teams often use back-end players who have little chance of making the team in the second half, they also occasionally leave out players who they might want to sneak onto the practice squad so that other teams do not see something worthy of claiming on waivers.
Meanwhile, the individuals in the tightest roster battles often get the most snaps and the most opportunity to prove themselves worthy of making the 53-man roster, which was the case for several Packers.
Here’s a look at how the playing time broke down in the Green Bay Packers’ 24-10 victory over the Rams on Thursday night.
OFFENSE (68 plays)
Brett Hundley 35, Taysom Hill 27, Joe Callahan 6
Any questions about who the number 3 quarterback is behind Aaron Rodgers and Hundley? After Hundley played the whole first half, Taysom Hill took over until the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter. The offense under Callahan went three and out twice.
Jamaal Williams 22, Aaron Jones 20, Devante Mays 19, Aaron Ripkowski 15, Kalif Phillips 7
The three drafted running backs battled throughout the game, trading off series early on and then spelling each other in the second half periodically. They combined for 140 total yards of offense, and all three remain in play for roster spots.
Malachi Dupre 37, DeAngelo Yancey 34, Geronimo Allison 31, Jeff Janis 30, Trevor Davis 14, Max McCaffrey 13, Michael Clark 6, Montay Crockett 6
The Packers certainly appear to be giving Yancey and Dupre every opportunity to make a good impression, but neither one was even targeted in the passing game. Meanwhile, Allison and Janis had four targets each.
The fact that McCaffrey and Clark played so little may be an indication that the Packers hope to get them onto the practice squad. By not playing them much, they had less opportunity to put something significant on tape, thereby increasing the chances that they make it through the waiver wire.
Emmanuel Byrd 38, Aaron Peck 38, Richard Rodgers 5, Lance Kendricks 5
The fourth game was a glorified tryout for a practice squad spot, as Byrd and Peck split time with the backups. Peck got loose for a touchdown, however, finding a soft spot in zone coverage and hauling in a dart from Taysom Hill.
Justin McCray 68, Adam Pankey 68, Kyle Murphy 53, Jason Spriggs 53, Kofi Amichia 53, Robert Leff 15, Geoff Gray 15, Thomas Evans 15
McCray played every snap at center, and he could be in line to back up Corey Linsley if the Packers don’t think that Corey Linsley will be ready. Pankey bounced outside from guard to tackle when Spriggs and Murphy sat in the second half. It’s clear that the team wants either Pankey or Amichia to take hold of a guard job, but it’s still very plausible that neither one makes the team.
DEFENSE (59 plays)
Brian Price 38, Christian Ringo 30, Izaah Lunsford 25, Ricky Jean Francois 21, Calvin Heurtelou 18
Price and Ringo again battled hard for the fifth DL slot, and there’s still no clear winner between the two, as APC’s roster prediction shows. Jean Francois probably just needed the work to keep expanding his understanding of the Packers’ defense, while Lunsford and Heurtelou are likely to find themselves out of a job.
Kyler Fackrell 40, Reggie Gilbert 40, Josh Letuligasenoa 19, Johnathan Calvin 19, David Talley 12
Could the Packers actually be picking between Fackrell and Gilbert? Fackrell had a few decent moments in the run game early, while Gilbert’s most notable play was a late hit penalty on special teams. If it comes down to one or the other thanks to the Ahmad Brooks signing, Fackrell still has the edge. The team might be able to get Gilbert on the practice squad if they cut him loose, but would probably want to keep one of the others as well.
Derrick Mathews 48, Cody Heiman 26, Jake Ryan 11, Blake Martinez 9
The Packers gave Mathews a long look with Jordan Tripp injured, and he played reasonably well with five total tackles. He’s probably the next option behind Ryan, Martinez, Joe Thomas, and Tripp, though Heiman has tons of athletic ability and could be a practice squad candidate.
Donatello Brown 37, Josh Hawkins 35, Lenzy Pipkins 34, Raysean Pringle 19, Daquan Holmes 15, LaDarius Gunter 7, Quinten Rollins 6, Damarious Randall 6, Davon House 3
Brown had the best day of any corner, with a pick and another pass breakup. He also made three solo tackles and generally was impressive. The fact that Hawkins saw about the same number of snaps as Brown and Pipkins suggests that it is those three players fighting for a sixth cornerback slot. All three players made at least one notable play; Hawkins had a great pass breakup while Pipkins had a tackle for loss.
Since Gunter only played early in the game, he appears to be entirely safe on this roster. His interception and sack probably solidified that, even though the sack was unblocked and the pick was a bad throw and was tipped by the receiver.
Josh Jones 57, Marwin Evans 38, Aaron Taylor 29, Kentrell Brice 7
Although Brice only played early, he was in on special teams throughout the game and got a bit banged up on the Packers’ last punt. Meanwhile, Jones — who sat out one preseason game — simply needed the work on the field in a variety of roles. Taylor’s snaps were probably a tryout to see if he is worthy of a practice squad spot.