Over the past few weeks, the Green Bay Packers have brought several players onto the active 53-man roster from the team’s practice squad. On Saturday evening at Lambeau Field, a few of those players got significant playing time on offense and defense, as the team needed to fill up snap counts due in part to several injured veterans.
The most notable pair of such players in the Packers’ 16-0 loss to the Minnesota Vikings are wide receiver Michael Clark and outside linebacker Reggie Gilbert. Clark was promoted for the previous game against the Panthers, but was inactive; Gilbert was brought up during the past week. Both players were near or over 50% of their appropriate snaps on offense and defense, respectively, and as such got a chance to audition for next year’s squad.
Sunday will likely see more of the same, as the Packers will probably hold out several of their veterans once again when they take on the Detroit Lions to close out the season.
OFFENSE (67 plays)
Brett Hundley 67
Hundley had another abysmal game at Lambeau Field — there’s no more flattering way to accurately describe his performance. He completed 17 of 40 passes for just 130 yards, an embarrassing 3.25 yards per attempt, and he threw a pair of interceptions to boot.
That’s enough about that.
LT David Bakhtiari 67, LG Lane Taylor 67, C Corey Linsley 67, RT/RG Justin McCray 67, RG Lucas Patrick, RT Jason Spriggs 1
Spriggs lined up for just one play, then was taken off the field on a cart with what Mike McCarthy has only described as a “serious injury.” Justin McCray moved out to right tackle once again to replace Spriggs, after having started the game at right guard due to Jahri Evans being inactive. With McCray kicking out, that meant Lucas Patrick got to come into the game at right guard and was reasonably effective, even with a club on one hand.
Meanwhile, Bakhtiari played at a high level once again, not allowing a single pressure all night to Everson Griffen.
Jamaal Williams 62, Aaron Ripkowski 12, Aaron Jones 4
Williams was again the featured ball-carrier, but his snap count went up a bunch as Aaron Jones suffered an injury early and was held out of the rest of the game.*
Jones carried the ball on three of his four plays in the game, picking up 13 yards. Meanwhile, Williams gained 58 yards on 15 carries while failing to catch any of his three targets in the passing game.
* Thanks to astute reader bwbrew, who reminded us that Jones was injured and was not just held out due to a coach’s decision.
Randall Cobb 61, Geronimo Allison 53, Michael Clark 28, Jordy Nelson 27, Trevor Davis 16, Jeff Janis 12
With Davante Adams out with a concussion, Allison took his spot in the starting lineup. Then, once Nelson suffered a shoulder injury late in the first half, the Packers’ coaching staff elected to bring Clark on as his primary replacement, while throwing a handful of snaps to Davis and Janis.
Clark ended up tying for the team-high in targets with a whopping nine; however, he only caught three of those passes for 36 yards. He also had a pass thrown to him in the end zone, seemingly on target, only to inexplicably pull his hands back into his chest at the point that the ball arrived rather than reaching out for it.
There were some good points for Clark — he showed some improved route-running over what he demonstrated in camp and he remains an imposing physical presence — but he clearly still has a ways to go before he can be counted on as a significant contributor.
Lance Kendricks 58, Richard Rodgers 2
Rodgers, like Nelson, suffered a shoulder injury, which dictated that Kendricks took the remainder of the snaps at the position all game long. That injury could keep Rodgers out in week 17, which would explain the Packers’ decision to promote a tight end (Emanuel Byrd) from the practice squad on Tuesday.
Kendricks caught just four of his nine targets, which matched Clark for the team high. He also tied Clark with 36 yards; however, both of Hundley’s interceptions were on balls thrown to Kendricks (one of which was a terrible throw in the red zone that was right to safety Harrison Smith).
DEFENSE (65 plays)
Kenny Clark 46, Mike Daniels 42, Dean Lowry 33, Quinton Dial 19, Montravius Adams 9
Suddenly, Kenny Clark has turned into a pass-rushing monster. He has 4.5 sacks on the season, after recording a pair of sacks on Case Keenum on Saturday. Impressively, all of those sacks have come over the last four games, which coincided with his return from an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, Daniels was kept off the stat sheet entirely, s he continues to draw double-teams from opposing offensive lines. Lowry added two tackles, a hit on Keenum, and a pass breakup at the line of scrimmage.
Reggie Gilbert 46, Kyler Fackrell 39, Ahmad Brooks 19, Vince Biegel 16, Chris Odom 10
Gilbert’s workload was a surprise, as the recently-promoted pass rusher saw more snaps than any other player at the position. The snaps were divided up in large part due to Nick Perry and Clay Matthews being inactive, but with Brooks remaining active it was still surprising to see Gilbert having such a heavy workload.
Although Gilbert did not record a tackle, he was reasonably effective rushing the passer, as he landed a pair of hits on Keenum.
Meanwhile, Fackrell recorded the only sack of the game from the edge rushers, as he navigated through a pair of blockers to bring Keenum down as he scrambled off left tackle.
Blake Martinez 65, Jake Ryan 55
Both inside linebackers recorded double-digit tackles, with Ryan landing ten solo stops and an assist and Martinez getting six solo tackles and five assists. All in all, they did a good job keeping Latavius Murray’s production down, as he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on 21 total rushes. Jerick McKinnon had more success, with seven carries and 42 yards for a 6.0 YPC clip.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 65, Morgan Burnett 65, Jermaine Whitehead 31, Josh Jones 30, Marwin Evans 3
Whitehead out-snapping Jones was quite the surprise, as the second-round rookie has received far more snaps over the past several weeks. However, Jones struggled in coverage, as Pro Football Focus credited him with allowing five completions for 45 yards. Clinton-Dix led the unit with four tackles and a pass breakup, and the rest of the safeties had mostly solid coverage throughout the game.
Josh Hawkins 53, Davon House 50, Lenzy Pipkins 19, Donatello Brown 1
Hawkins had a bit of a rough day, getting picked on by Stefon Diggs and allowing the game’s only touchdown. Otherwise, there was little production from the Vikings’ passing game, as Adam Thielen had just two receptions for 24 yards on the day.