In the vast majority of cases, one preseason game will not make or break a player’s chances for a contributing role or a spot on the season-opening roster. However, their performances make up part of the larger picture, something the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff will consider as the preseason progresses.
After the Packers’ 26-13 exhibition loss to the Baltimore Ravens, an undrafted linebacker and multiple wide receivers continued strong preseason campaigns. Those performances stand in stark contrast with the rest of the team, which looked sluggish Thursday night.
After a week working with the No. 1 defense in place of injured starter Oren Burks, Curtis Bolton looked like a potential Week 1 starter against the Ravens. Bolton led all Packers defenders with six tackles and a tackle for loss, though unofficially he had another. Bolton also delivered pressure on an early third down to force the Baltimore offense off the field and hauled in a deflected pass for a pick. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine won’t use just one player to fill Burks’ void, but Bolton has made the strongest case among the group of replacement candidates.
Not much went right for the Packers offense Thursday night, but Allen Lazard showed up in the second half for some deep shots. The second-year wideout hauled in passes for 17, 25 and 21 yards, the last of which highlighted Lazard’s ability to create yards after the catch. He remains firmly on the roster bubble entering the third week of the preseason, but that could change in his favor should plays like those continue to occur.
For the second straight week, Darrius Shepherd delivered in the return game (highlighted by a 36-yard return on the Packers’ first possession) and made plays on offense. He could have put up even larger numbers had his quarterbacks not sailed multiple passes on plays where Shepherd beat his coverage deep. Still, the undrafted rookie wideout hauled in multiple passes including a 7-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter.
Tony Brown - Though Bolton receives official credit for the aforementioned interception, Tony Brown created the opportunity by deflecting the pass. Brown continues to look like a regular contributor on defense as well as a core member of special teams.
Jake Kumerow - Though Lazard and Shepherd had flashier moments Thursday, Jake Kumerow produced his three catches for 52 yards against the Ravens starters and top backups. It seems increasingly clear Kumerow will make the final cut, and he can put any lingering doubt to bed if he produces next week with Aaron Rodgers (assuming the quarterback plays).
The backup quarterbacks
Both DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle had nights to forget. Kizer again struggled with his touch and ball placement, inexplicably bulleting a short pass behind Davante Adams to end the Packers’ first possession on downs. Kizer rebounded slightly in his subsequent possessions, but he still doesn’t look like a dependable backup quarterback. Meanwhile, Boyle looked erratic as a passer and contributed to a fumbled handoff deep inside Green Bay territory that turned into a Baltimore touchdown a few plays later.
After a mostly positive preseason debut, Ty Summers came crashing back down Thursday against the Ravens. He whiffed on multiple tackles and let ball carriers run through him on other occasions. During a game in which Bolton laid a strong claim to a regular role on defense, Summers looked more like a deep reserve.
The fumble on the Packers’ first possession of the second half officially goes on Boyle’s stat line, but Dexter Williams should have corralled the ball given the placement of the handoff. That proved to be just one of the lowlights of Williams’ night, who also dropped an easy pass in the first quarter and had two runs of negative yards. Williams hasn’t put his roster spot in serious jeopardy, but his opportunity to push for the primary backup role took a major hit.