While the Green Bay Packers sat a multitude of players for their preseason opener on Saturday against the Houston Texans, the players who did play — and the order in which they took the field — tells us a bit about where the team stands with their roster and which players are in the lead for the handful of open roster spots.
As an example, take the outside linebacker position. With Rashan Gary, Za’Darius Smith, and Preston Smith all sitting, the team rolled one pair of players out on the edge for the entire first half and a different pair for the second half. There can’t be a much clearer picture of a depth chart than that, and it’s a strategy that the team used at several different positions throughout the game.
Here’s our look at the snap counts from Saturday along with any notable numbers from the box score.
OFFENSE (54 plays total)
Jordan Love 28, Kurt Benkert 26
Love was supposed to play well into the third quarter according to the pregame plan, but head coach Matt LaFleur said he got his shoulder “dinged” on a strip-sack late in the first half, leading the team to pull him for Benkert at halftime. Love’s touchdown drive was excellent, as he threw for over 80 of his 122 yards on that drive alone.
Benkert finished the day 8 of 12 for 88 yards and an interception.
Kylin Hill 23, Patrick Taylor 15, Dexter Williams 10, AJ Dillon 6
It’s easy to see why Hill has been drawing more and more praise over the last week or so of camp, as he scored the Packers’ only touchdown of the game on Saturday. A perfectly-executed screen pass got him wide open, but he made some impressive moves and dove over the pylon for the score. Hill was not productive as a runner with minus-two yards on five carries, but it’s tough to draw much from that early action.
Taylor picked up 22 yards on 9 carries while Williams provided a late-game jolt with four straight runs for 32 yards.
Malik Taylor 36, Devin Funchess 34, Amari Rodgers 32, Reggie Begelton 23, Chris Blair 10, Deandre Thompkins 9
Funchess was arguably the player of the game for the Packers with six catches on eight targets for 70 yards. Taylor pitched in nicely as well, catching all five of his targets for 50 yards, including a 21-yard gain. Rodgers had a rough go on special teams, but caught three of his four targets for 15 yards. The rest of the young receivers combined for just one reception, a 14-yarder by Begelton.
Jace Sternberger 26, Bronson Kaufusi 24, Daniel Crawford 13, Isaac Nauta 9
It was interesting to see Nauta start the game, then end up in street clothes as Sternberger continued to play into the second half. That could suggest that Nauta has the lead among these players for the TE4 job, but it could also be the Packers wanting to get Sternberger some preseason snaps since he will be suspended for the first two games.
With that said, Sternberger made one of the bigger plays of the day, splitting the seam and hauling in a 34-yard pass from Love to jump-start the Packers’ touchdown drive. He was the only tight end who was targeted in the game, and he caught all three of his targets for 35 total yards.
Yosh Nijman 54, Ben Braden 39, Jon Runyan 28, Lucas Patrick 28, Dennis Kelly 28, Jake Hanson 26, Royce Newman 26, Cole Van Lanen 26, Josh Myers 15
The Packers kept Nijman at left tackle for the entire game with Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner sitting out, and it largely did not go well. He was at fault on the sack that got Love injured and had a few other struggles as well.
Initially, the line started out with Nijman, Runyan, Myers, Patrick, and Kelly from left to right. The team later moved Runyan to center with Braden taking over at right guard for the final 13 snaps of the first half. The line for the second half then consisted of Nijman, Braden, Hanson, Newman, and Van Lanen.
DEFENSE (75 plays total)
Willington Previlon 59, TJ Slaton 46, Jack Heflin 40, Carlo Kemp 19, Tyler Lancaster 10, Josh Avery 9
The Packers gave Previlon, a holdover from last year’s practice squad, a ton of reps on the inside along with 5th-round rookie Slaton and UDFA rookie Heflin. Slaton finished the game with five total tackles, while Heflin recorded four and Previlon two. None of the defensive linemen recorded a tackle for loss or a hit on the quarterback.
Delontae Scott 41, Chauncey Rivers 41, Jonathan Garvin 34, Tipa Galeai 34
The pecking order is clear for the Packers on the edge right now; Garvin and Galeai make up the second unit (behind the Smiths and Rashan Gary), while Scott and Rivers are the third team. Garvin had one QB hit and one assisted tackle, while Galeai did not appear in the stat sheet. Scott and Rivers each came up with four solo tackles in the second half.
Oren Burks 41, Ray Wilborn 34, De’Jon Harris 34, Ty Summers 28, Krys Barnes 13
Inside, Burks had an impressive game, shooting gaps and timing the snap count. He had the Packers’ only sack and added another tackle for loss en route to six total tackles to tie for the team lead. Wilborn and Summers each had four total tackles, while Harris had three and Barnes one.
Vernon Scott 64, Henry Black 41, Innis Gaines 34, Christian Uphoff 11
No defensive player was on the field more than Scott, who played most of the game alongside Black and Gaines. Scott matched Burks with six tackles and he and Gaines each broke up a pass in coverage. Scott and Gaines each added a special teams tackle as well, while Black had a pair to go with three stops on defense.
Kabion Ento 56, Josh Jackson 46, Shemar Jean-Charles 35, Ka’Dar Hollman 20, Dominique Martin 15, Eric Stokes 13, Chandon Sullivan 7
Taken one round before Burks in the 2018 draft, Jackson looks like a man whose days in Green Bay are numbered. He had five solo tackles and a pass breakup, but was picked on early and often. Ento might take his spot as the converted receiver had an interception in the red zone in the second quarter while playing on the boundary. Jean-Charles manned the slot for much of the game, finishing with two tackles on defense, one on special teams, and a pass defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Gaines 17, Wilborn 17, Harris 15, Begelton 14, Ento 14, Kaufusi 12, Garvin 11, D. Scott 11, Jean-Charles 10, V. Scott 10, Uphoff 10
Green Bay spread around the special teams snaps in this game, getting a look at a number of young players on coverage and blocking units. Amari Rodgers had a bit of a rough sequence returning punts early on in the third quarter, first muffing a punt into the end zone (which was nullified by penalty) before calling for a fair catch on the next play with no players near him. Kylin Hill got the call on kickoff returns to start the game, where he had an average of 19.3 yards on three opportunities.