When the Green Bay Packers were preparing for Thursday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders, the expectation for the team and its fans was that the starters would play the first half. Alas, with the field conditions a mess and Oakland deciding to sit their first-team units, the Packers chose not to play their starters at all, making for a brutal game to watch.
The second-string units played for most of the first half, while the third-stringers (where they existed) stepped in after halftime to finish out the game. That unit allowed the Raiders to come back in the game, coughing up a 21-10 lead to eventually lose 22-21.
Here’s how the playing time broke down
OFFENSE (72 plays)
Tim Boyle 46, DeShone Kizer 26
When the decision came down to have Aaron Rodgers and the starters sit, Boyle got the call to open up the game, and he opened up with a dud. He completed only one of his first eight passes, missing often on deep balls before turning it around. Once settled in, Boyle looked solid, going 15-for-17 the rest of the way and totaling 191 yards and two touchdowns. He was helped out by some excellent catches from his receivers, but he did deliver many good balls in rhythm, getting good protection throughout the first half.
After Boyle’s good first half, Kizer came in and was immediately under duress. His snap count was down in large part because the offense could not stay on the field. He took three sacks in his first two series, two coming on either third or fourth down to kill the drive. Furthermore, playcalling and poor running on first and second down put Kizer behind the sticks repeatedly, and each third down opportunity he had was with six yards or more to gain.
Still, Kizer delivered on a few attempts, only to have his success eliminated by mistakes. He made an excellent throw on the run to Darrius Shepherd for a 16-yard gain on a third-and-11, but that was erased by a holding penalty on Anthony Coyle. Then the next play on third-and-21, he dropped a picture-perfect ball in to Allen Lazard over the middle, but Lazard couldn’t complete the catch. Kizer’s 4-for-7 day with just 24 yards and a pick (which came on a last-gasp Hail Mary attempt) belies the fact that he put some very good throws on tape.
Tra Carson 33, Keith Ford 18, Dexter Williams 17, Malcolm Johnson 11, Darrin Hall 4, Tommy Bohanon 2
The Packers got little production from their reserve running backs again this week, with Williams and Carson getting the bulk of the carry load. Carson carried the ball nine times for 32 yards and a score, showing an occasional burst but still looking generally unimpressive. Williams showed burst on occasion, and he hauled in a tough pass in the flat, but finished with just a 2.5-yard average on 11 carries. Perhaps most notable is the fact that Johnson returned to game action, but even he only suited up on 11 plays and caught a single pass for four yards.
It certainly looks like Carson vs. Williams for the RB3 job, but even though Williams has had a quiet couple of games, he certainly shows more juice and explosiveness than Carson.
Trevor Davis 48, Allen Lazard 47, Darrius Shepherd 40, Jake Kumerow 20, J’Mon Moore 15, Equanimeous St. Brown 12, Teo Redding 2
Here’s where things got interesting. Aside from a run early where Kumerow joined Davis as the team’s primary receivers, the group of Davis, Lazard, and Shepherd got the most run. Clearly that is the trio that appears to be fighting for roster spots, one of which may have just opened up due to injury.
St. Brown got injured in the second quarter, handing on to a really tough catch over the middle before getting lit up (and likely having his ankle broken) by Raiders safety Erik Harris. Lazard was shaken up late on his drop from Kizer over the middle as well.
All told, Davis and Shepherd staked by far the best claim on Thursday night. Davis was unquestionably the Packers’ best player, as he caught five of six targets for 78 yards and a touchdown. He also could have had another long score but Boyle’s deep ball was underthrown a bit, forcing Davis to slow down and let a Raiders cornerback catch up and contest the reception. Shepherd, meanwhile, caught all three of his targets for 40 yards, while adding that 16-yard reception that was canceled out by penalty. With St. Brown a potential injured reserve candidate, both could make the team if they keep six wideouts.
Robert Tonyan 48, Evan Baylis 41, Pharoah McKever 2
The Packers opened in 12 personnel on Thursday with Tonyan and Baylis both on the field, and Tonyan played in one-tight end personnel groupings through the first half. He had the only catch by a player at the position, an 11-yard gain from Boyle to move the chains on third down.
Adam Pankey 72, Justin McCray 61, Lucas Patrick 57, Cole Madison 47, Alex Light 46, Yosh Nijman 26, Gerhard de Beer 26, Anthony Coyle 25
The line was a tale of two halves as well, as the second-team line suited up in the first half. Pankey started out at right tackle for the first half, then moved inside to guard for the second half, while Light came out of the game at the break. The third-team line in the second half saw Nijman come on at left tackle and de Beer on the right side, with some combination of Pankey, McCray, Patrick, and Coyle at the three interior spots. Madison probably would have played for most of the second half as well, but he was injured on the first play of the third quarter and did not return, forcing McCray and Patrick into some additional action.
That first group played pretty well, however, at least in pass protection, but the second half immediately saw a huge drop-off, with Kizer being sacked on both of his first two drop-backs.
DEFENSE (78 plays)
James Looney 44, Kingsley Keke 43, Deon Simon 42, Montravius Adams 28, Olive Sagapolu 23, Tyler Lancaster 22
On the defensive line, the Packers got little production in the passing game, as only Looney recorded a quarterback hit. Adams was active early, however, frequently being around the football and creating some penetration into the backfield. For now, however, it looks like Looney, Simon, and Sagapolu are fighting for practice squad spots.
Randy Ramsey 53, Markus Jones 47, Kyler Fackrell 31, Rashan Gary 25
Gary’s third NFL game came to an early end on Thursday night after appearing to tweak his neck on a tackle from behind. That was the second injury that pulled him out of the game, too, though he returned from the first — he appeared to just twist his leg or foot a bit on a tackle, his first of the preseason.
After that, it was a pretty quiet and unimpressive night from the reserve backers. The fact that Fackrell did not appear on the stat sheet despite playing against exclusively second-team linemen must be a disappointment for a player who had double-digit sacks a year ago.
Ty Summers 77, James Crawford 35, Brady Sheldon 23, Curtis Bolton 19
For the second time in three games, Summers played almost every snap and had double-digit tackles, finishing with nine solo and one assist. With starter Blake Martinez skipping the game and no other players taking snaps at the Mike position, it’s clear that Summers is the only backup at that position, and he’s making the team.
The other three players rotated in and out at the Will spot, with Bolton getting the start. However, he left the game with an injury in the second quarter, giving way to Crawford. Bolton was later spotted on the sideline on crutches and in a knee brace, a less-than-encouraging sign for a player who had impressed and appeared to be in line for a starting job.
Sheldon had a couple of splash plays late in the game, including an interception on the Raiders’ two-point conversion attempt and a huge hit on a running back in the flat on the final drive. However, Sheldon did get flagged for that hit, which saw him make some helmet-to-helmet contact with the back.
Tray Matthews 56, Mike Tyson 36, Will Redmond 34, Raven Greene 24
Greene and Redmond started the game at safety, with Greene giving way to other players in the second quarter. He totaled four tackles and a pass breakup, while Redmond and Matthews had three apiece.
Matthews did force a fumble after a big gain through the air on a fourth-down conversion by the Raiders, but an Oakland player fell on it as the Silver and Black went on to score a touchdown to pull within two points.
Chandon Sullivan 64, Natrell Jamerson 53, Nydair Rouse 31, Tony Brown 24, Josh Jackson 24
In this game, Jamerson played more corner than safety, perhaps getting an opportunity to show that he deserves a roster spot since his tackling has been suspect throughout the preseason. He had a pair of pass breakups and three tackles, but Sullivan made noise — both good and bad. Sullivan’s four pass breakups led the team, but he also allowed another touchdown pass and a second big gain.
Brown and Jackson started the game, and both looked solid. Jackson’s first preseason action this year saw him record a pair of PBUs, an encouraging sign for his ability to contribute this fall.