What did we learn? Not a whole heckuva lot. We certainly gained no clarity in the Aaron Rodgers backup situation nor the place kicking competition. There were other things we noticed in the preseason opener, things to watch carefully Saturday night to see if they’re fixed.
Let’s start with the final score. Getting shutout at Lambeau does not happen unless David Whitehurst or Randy Wright is playing quarterback. We can argue that James Starks got the nose of the ball across the goal line in the opening drive, but we didn’t get the call. After that series the offense turned it over twice and punted ten times. That’s more Tim Masthay than we’ll see before the bye in week 4.
Graham Harrell was putrid and the running game did him no favors. None of the backs distinguished themselves and none had much running room. Let’s just say the door is wide, wide open for the two guys who missed the game: Eddie Lacy and DuJuan Harris.
The most encouraging review of the offense comes at the most important spot. Rookie David Bakhtiari held up well and apparently graded out well in his first assignment at left tackle, though he almost got beat on Rodgers’ 50-yard bomb to James Jones (might’ve gotten away with holding, too). Don Barclay has the early lead at the right tackle spot, in part because he played well and partly because Marshall Newhouse looked wretched.
Defensively, the biggest buzzkill was the injury to rookie DE Datone Jones on his first snap. As I write this on Monday morning, we’re still awaiting word of the severity of his sprained ankle. The fact that three days has passed does not make me feel real secure about the diagnosis. I was surprised at the number of snaps Johnny Jolly got. I’m starting to think he can make this team and actually make a difference on the line. He has a long way to go to knock off all the rust, but he’s off to a promising start.
I was really looking forward to watching the young corners step into the limelight and show us the depth we have at one of the game’s toughest positions. With Williams and Hayward out we knew we’d see a lot of Davon House, Micah Hyde and a couple street free agent newcomers. Yuck. House looked lost and Hyde had a little ‘deer in the headlights’ to him. Just one game, but against nondescript backup QBs they gave up way too many big plays.
Since it’s the preseason, I never worry too much about a lack of a pass rush. Dom Capers and his staff aren’t going to show much. But it would be nice to see the young pass rushers make some plays that stand out. After one game, we’re still waiting.
Outside of the tackles, the other guy who separated himself was WR Tyrone Walker, a guy Rodgers has been gushing about. He’s the shortest guy of the bunch, but showed an ability to get open and make plays. He’s elevated himself into the conversation for the fourth or fifth receiver and is likely to get additional snaps this weekend.
It was an ugly start with a few pleasant surprises mixed in. Saturday in St. Louis, the Pack will face a team on the rise with Harvin-like rookie Tavon Austin and an aggressive defense. Hopefully we’ll see the team take a step. Hopefully our first two draft picks will be able to play. Hopefully we’ll see the team give the kickers a couple of field goal tries. Hopefully, we’ll see them score some points.