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’ 28-26 exhibition victory over the Houston Texans, several young members of the defense stood out for their big plays while a second-year receiver continues to struggle with drops.
After spending 2018 primarily as a special-teams contributor, Greene returned to the Packers with added muscle and an eye on the hybrid safety-linebacker role that once seemed destined for Josh Jones. Greene had a strong camp by most accounts and followed up on that performance with a nice showing in Green Bay’s preseason opener.
Greene’s biggest play came near the end of the first quarter. After Texans running back Taiwan Jones broke through the Packers’ defensive front for first-down yardage, Greene came down from the defensive backfield and punched out the football. Teammate Will Redmond recovered the ball, preventing Houston from putting points on the board in scoring position.
Though Ka’Dar Hollman arrived in Green Bay with little fanfare, the 2019 sixth-round pick has managed to earn playing time with the No. 1 defense. With Jaire Alexander, Tramon Williams, Kevin King, and Josh Jackson all out for Thursday’s preseason game, Hollman saw plenty of action during the first half.
Hollman made the most of his run. On the Texans’ opening possession, he undercut a route to intercept a pass from Joe Webb, forcing the first turnover of the game. Hollman also played tight coverage throughout his time on the field, batting away a pass and keeping his receivers largely under wraps.
No player seemed to do more Thursday night than rookie linebacker Ty Summers. The 2019 seventh-round pick led all players on either team with 10 tackles, nine of them solo. That figure doesn’t include stops Summers made on special teams where seems ready to handle a major role.
Because Summers played virtually the entire game, he made his share of mistakes as well. Summers whiffed on multiple tackle opportunities on defense and special teams, including a critical mistake that allowed Webb to turn a third-and-forever into a first-down scramble. Still, given how much positive play Summers put on tape, Thursday represents a net positive.
Tim Boyle - Whereas DeShone Kizer’s stat line from Thursday night hides his tentativeness as a passer, Tim Boyle displayed pose and decisiveness in his reads during the preseason opener. Boyle put his arm on display, finding wideout Allen Lazard on an impressive 27-yard throw into the end zone.
Jake Kumerow - Early in the game when the offense struggled to find its footing, Jake Kumerow bailed out his team twice with big third-down conversions. Kumerow has built well on last year’s hype and might earn more than just a roster spot should that trend continue.
Darrius Shepherd - The first touchdown of the Matt LaFleur era resulted from a mesh play with rookie Darrius Shepherd making a difficult in-air adjustment to haul in a Kizer pass. Shepherd has gone from a tryout player to a contender for a roster or practice-squad spot in a short period of time.
Second-year linebacker Oren Burks didn’t make any critical mistakes against the Texans. However, he did hurt his shoulder, an injury bad enough to force him out of the game. Given that Burks missed time during the preseason last year with a shoulder injury and never quite found his footing upon his return, another shoulder issue should concern him and the Packers.
J’Mon Moore’s talent remains undeniable, but he can’t seem to put it together long enough to leave a positive impression. During Thursday’s exhibition, Moore slipped on routes and dropped multiple passes, including a would-be touchdown. The second-year wideout did manage to haul in a score later that drive, but even in that instance he had to double catch the ball.
Moore’s confidence and concentration seems to wane after he makes an early mistake, and that has to concern the Packers given the wideout depth on display since the start of training camp. Moore still has plenty of time to change the narrative, but he faces an uphill battle for a roster spot now.
If the Packers want to pump up fans, they should probably find something more energizing than a foghorn.