With the Green Bay Packers' rookie class getting their first taste of NFL action on Thursday night against the New England Patriots, we're back with a look at how the various first-year players performed in their preseason opener.
Unfortunately for the Packers, their top pick was unavailable on Thursday, but luckily, an undrafted player at the same position posted an impressive performance to help alleviate that loss.
Unfortunately, the first-round pick was sidelined all this week with a groin injury and missed the preseason opener. In doing so, he has fallen behind a pair of other rookie corners in the pecking order, at least for the time being, both of whom had impressive performances on Thursday.
Rollins is one of those two, as he was one of the stars of the Packers' 22-11 win over the Patriots. Rollins looked very good tracking the football, recording three pass breakups and several impressive tackles, including one on running back James White that disrupted a fourth ball. All in all, Rollins was credited with 10 passes thrown into his coverage, and only five of those were completed for 26 total yards. He's clearly on the rise, and with just one year of football under his belt, his ceiling is as high as anyone's.
Taking every punt and kick return on Thursday, Montgomery looked solid catching the football and took his one punt return for a nice 14-yard gain. He also showed great hands, catching all four passes thrown to him; however, the one area he appears to need some work on is concentration along the sidelines; two of the passes, while thrown into tight windows, were ruled incomplete after he could only get a single foot down. All in all, it was a nice start in game action and carryover from Montgomery's impressive work in practice.
Ryan was regularly around the ball on Thursday and played among the most snaps of any defensive player. He finished with six tackles (two for loss) and a sack, showing nice ability as a blitzer. Finding the right gaps to fill as a run defender may take some time, but Ryan is off to a decent start.
After a rough first two weeks of practice, Hundley might be the most improved player on the Packers' roster over the last week. He was reportedly looking very good in Monday and Tuesday's practices, and followed that up with a very strong showing on Thursday. He was accurate on all of his throws, finishing 4 for 6 for 60 yards and a score, and generally seemed to have the trust of his teammates and command of the huddle.
Playing just 11 snaps, Ringo did not get much of a chance to make an impact against New England. He was held off the stat sheet, however, and didn't show much of that trademark burst off the line that made him a sixth-round pick.
While Ripkowski only got a few snaps as a run blocker on Thursday, he made his most impressive plays on special teams. He made two impressive tackles in kickoff coverage, including one back on the 11-yard line. He'll need to continue that impressive play on that unit, as he has not been able to work his way into the offense much so far.
Two catches for 10 yards on Thursday isn't exactly a breakout, but it's a start after a rather unimpressive camp to this point. Where Backman struggled the most was in run blocking, and he'll need to show some improvement over the next few weeks if he's going to surpass Justin Perillo for a roster spot.
Undrafted Free Agents of note
This should come as no surprise, since Gunter has been one of the most-hyped free agent rookies this year in Green Bay. He kept up his impressive play on Thursday, picking off Jimmy Garoppolo. He also allowed just three completions for 30 yards on six attempts into his coverage, for a passer rating against of 25.0. Gunter also played on special teams and was neutral at worst, a good sign for him earning a spot on the 53-man roster.
Harris was one of the Packers' most impressive runners on Thursday, and maintained his solid performance in camp. His 25-yard touchdown was helped out considerably by blocks from John Kuhn and Montgomery, but he still got to the edge quickly and was able to accelerate upfield to find the end zone. He also had some tough running inside, which is what he'll need to continue to keep pace with Rajion Neal for the third running back job.
Despite several linebackers sitting out, Vaughters didn't have too many snaps to prove himself on defense, but he made the most of them. He provided two quarterback pressures on nine pass-rushing snaps, plus he nearly blocked a punt early on in the game.