Packers Review: What We Looked For and What We Saw
Yesterday, the Packers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 44-37 to win their third straight preseason game. It was another impressive outing that saw the first team outscore Arizona 38-10, Aaron Rodgers pass for three touchdowns, and Charles Woodson forced three fumbles. Heading into the game, there were five things to look for from the Packers. After the fact of the matter, let’s see how they fared in Glendale.
1. What impact will Nick Barnett have if he takes the field for the first time this season?
Unfortunately, Barnett was not healthy enough to take the field and missed the game Friday. He projects to play next week against Tennessee and hopes to get some real-time action in before the regular season starts. He joined Clay Matthews III on the sidelines, but one bright spot was the sight of Jeremy Thompson.
He played very well, staying low and using strength to get around the edge on pass plays. He saw limited action during the game and did not record a tackle, but it was a start for the Wake Forest product in his transition to the 3-4 outside linebacker.
Barnett still has a starting spot on the team when he returns, but Desmond Bishop continued his stellar preseason with nine tackles.
2. Playing with the first team offense, can Tyrell Sutton continue to produce like he did against the Browns and Bills?
Sutton came into the game against the Cardinals with nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain. He had played extremely well in his first two preseason games and saw reps with the first team offense. On the night, he had three rushes for 14 yards and returned three kicks for an average of 26.3 yards.
While Ryan Grant isn’t about to lose his starting job, Sutton continued to play well. He doesn’t project as much more than a back-up running back, but he seems to be doing that job very well. The kick returns were an added bonus, although he probably will not return kicks in the regular season.
3. How will the Packers’ secondary fare against the Cardinals’ passing attack?
Heading into the game, the story of the defense was how many interceptions they could get off Kurt Warner and the Cardinals passing attack, but Charles Woodson had different plans. The 12-year veteran had two sacks, forced three fumbles, and was pressuring the quarterback all night.
The second team defense struggled mightily as Matt Leinart passed for 360 yards and three touchdowns, but overall it was a positive night for the secondary. Nick Collins played a solid game while Atari Bigby continued to show flashes of his 2007 year.
Tramon Williams was overmatched by Larry Fitzgerald and looked a little lost in the zone scheme, but overall had a nice night for himself. Anthony Smith, the ex-Steeler, had another interception on the night and is making a strong case for a starting spot if he continues to play well.
4. With the offensive line starters set in stone, how will they look together?
It was exciting to see the newly dubbed offensive line play together for the first time, and they did not disappoint. Rodgers had plenty of time in the pocket, the Packers rushed for 123 yards, and the Cardinals had just two sacks on the night.
Chad Clifton seems rejuvenated and the run blocking on the right side of the line was very good. It was one of the Packers’ weak spots in last year’s team, but if they can continue to impress with their new and improved (and younger) line, it will be huge for the team.
5. Can tight end Jermichael Finley continue his excellent play?
Simply put, yes he can. Finley was absolutely unstoppable all night, hauling in four catches for 28 yards and two touchdowns. He was a matchup problem for the Cardinals and is becoming very hard to defend. His speed was seen on his first touchdown reception, and he blocks above average for the kind of player he is.
No one expected a ton out of Finley this season as he is still a project for the most part, but it looks like he is progressing much more than most people thought he would.
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