Covering the week of practice and the all-important third preseason game.
Bob McGinn (@BobMcGinn)
-Mike McCarthy keeps saying Cedric Benson looks like a natural in the Packers’ backfield. It’s hard to argue with that assessment. In last Thursday’s preseason win over the Bengals, Benson twice read the back side and slipped past the pursuit for extra yardage. He looks like a real halfback – something noone’s said about a Packer in quite awhile.
-Since Jermichael Finley missed the third preseason game (due to the birth of his second child), the coaching staff faces a tough choice: play him in the finale versus the Chiefs (he needs the reps) or sit him and risk going into the season with a rusty starting tight end.
-The best player on the field in the Packer-Bengal game? Possibly Dezman Moses. His intensity, speed and strength really stick out on game film. He’s got the team made.
*BTH Note: By now, if you’ve read these training camp dispatches, you know about the Dezman Moses phenomena. He’s an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, where he played two seasons following his transfer from the University of Iowa. A second-team All-Conference USA selection his senior year, he accumulated 9.5 sacks and 12 tackles for a loss in 2011-12.
Listen: I know it sounds foolish, but literally every Packer writer rants and raves about the guy – and from what I’ve seen in the preseason, it’s for a good reason. He seems to be where the ball is at all times, and has found his way to the backfield on numerous occassions. He’s one reason to be (at least) cautiously optimistic about an improvement for the Packers on defense in 2012.
Wes Hodkiewicz (@WesHod)
– Linebacker Vic So’oto, who has stuck on the roster despite injury and inconsistency issues, is having a decent camp (despite battling injuries, again) and has been especially impressive in the weight room.
-The secondary is very unsettled, but for the time being, Anthony Levine may be the Packers’ starting safety.
-Former Packers’ great Jerry Kramer was snubbed, again, from recieving a Hall of Fame nomination from the Senior Committee.
-The Bengals’ first two offensive series garnered them five total yards. Dalton finished the night 5-for-17 for 40 yards. Suffice it to say, the defense looked good.
-Expect a decision Monday or Tuesday on Desmond Bishop regarding whether or not he ends up on the Injured Reserve.
-The Packers made five cuts Friday, two of whom were notable: Herb Taylor, who saw time with the starters at left tackle this preseason, and former Saint Anthony Hargrove, who was suspended for the first eight games of the season anyway. The team’s roster now sits at 85.
-Wes believes tight end Tom Crabtree, who is believed to be on the roster bubble, is more than likely to make the team. He’s an exceptional blocker, reliable, and has shown improved hands during camp.
*BTH Note: The Packer tight end situation is fascinating. Finley’s the clear starter, but he’s missed a bunch of time this preseason. D.J. Williams, a mid-round pick a year ago, draws rave reviews for his athleticism and hands and will surely make the team. Then, things get interesting.
Andrew Quarless (another former mid-round pick who’s been around a little while) has been hurt almost all of training camp and is a possibility to get cut. Ryan Taylor is a young, unheralded player known prrimarily for his blocking, but is a favorite of the coaching staff (and Aaron Rodgers). Tom Crabtree is an older, wiser, more consistent (though undoubtedly more expensive) version of Ryan Taylor.
How many tight ends will the team keep, exactly? With the offensive line and secondary injuries, there’s not a ton of roster flexibility. At this point, Quarless seems like he could be a victim of cutdown day, ditto for one of either Crabtree or Taylor. My money’s on Taylor.
Tom Silverstein (@tomsilverstein)
-Defensive lineman C.J. Wilson has shown a lot of growth from his rookie season and fits well in the Packers’ substitution packages. A solid guy to have on the defensive line rotation.
-Robert Francois has made the most of his time in camp. The linebacker has a chance to see the field in dime sets this season and has been a terrific special teams performer.
-Anthony Hargrove was just not a good fit in Green Bay. Due to his impending 8 game suspension, he got few practice reps and even fewer game reps. Teammates really loved having him around, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone take a flier on him, especially mid-season. (Note – his 8 game suspension will be served the first 8 games of the 2012 season regardless of whether or not he’s on an NFL roster.)
-According to Mike McCarthy, rookie first round pick Nick Perry was good against the Chargers, took a step back against the Browns and came on strong against the Bengals.
*BTH Note: It’s hard to expect too much from rookies, but Perry’s importance to the Packer defense cannot be understated. If he can be a pass-rusher opposing offenses have to respect, Clay Matthews might face a few one-on-one matchups as opposed to constant double and triple teams.
Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky)
-Dezman Moses was inserted onto the punt coverage team. He’s also on kick coverage and seems entrenched as the backup to Clay Matthews at OLB.
-Benson has been shadowing McCarthy and Rodgers since he signed with the Packers, even joining them in quarterback meetings in an attempt to absorb as much as he can about the offense.
-Marshall Newhouse had a rough night against Cincinnati, allowing pressure and getting flagged for holding and a false start.
-Defensive back Davon House will play the season with a harness on his injured shoulder and says he won’t need surgery unless it pops out again.
-All the juggling in the secondary is a cause for concern, as the team has clearly not settled nickel corner and safety spots, among others. Jarret Bush and Anthony Levine saw primary time at those respective positions against the Bengals.
*BTH Note: While no one has grabbed a hold of the open starting spots in the secondary, there shouldn’t be as much concern as you may think. Tramon Williams has been an aggressive tackler this preseason and appears to finally be healthy, something he wasn’t (at all) in 2011-12. Sure, Sam Shields’ inconsistency is maddening, but the rookies (Casey Hayward, especially) provide talented if inexperienced options should the need arise.
At least Charlie Peprah is gone. Apparently, the Bears are giving him a look. Good luck with that.
Until next time…
BreakTheHuddle is a fan of the Twins, Timberwolves and the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers. Reach him at BreakTheHuddle@gmail.com, @BreakTheHuddle on Twitter or leave a comment below!