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Preseason Packers vs Steelers: Reports & Reviews

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by TOPHAT, Aug 12, 2007.


    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007

    That'll just about do it ...

    Tramon Williams batted away a pass from Eric Fowler on fourth-and-1 with less than 2 minutes to play, effectively sealing the Packers' 13-9 victory over the Steelers. The series ended with an offensive guard, Travis Leffew, playing defensive tackle. So goes the fourth quarter of the first preseason game -- a gong show every time. Curiously, rookie Paul Thompson is finishing out the game at quarterback for the Packers. Coach Mike McCarthy had said Ingle Martin would play the entire fourth quarter this week, and Thompson would do the same next week. Only a drive the final 26 seconds can thwart the Packers' bid for a win in their preseason opener.

    Rodgers' successful night over

    Ingle Martin has taken over for No. 2 quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who finished 18-for-27 for 168 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers' play was a big bright spot for the Packers, especially after how badly the starters fizzled with Brett Favre at the helm. Favre and company didn't have a first down in four drives; Rodgers finished with three consecutive scoring drives against Pittsburgh's second- and third-teamers. Martin is in the closer's role this week, and rookie Paul Thompson is scheduled to play the fourth quarter next week. This roughly 8-minute stint is crucial for Martin, who is trying to hold down the No. 3 job. Poor decisions have plagued him in training camp.

    Harrell gets takedown. Welcome to the show, Justin Harrell.

    The first-round draft pick shed a block by Steelers tackle Brandon Torrey to take down third-round draft pick Brian St. Pierre. Fellow rookie Larry Birdine also was in the area. Yes, Torrey is a third-stringer, and no, Harrell didn't overpower anybody. In fact, backup guard Chris Kemoeatu pushed him around in the first half. But the sack represents a small step in the right direction for Harrell, who has struggled just to get in the rotation early on. On another note, Jon Ryan's two-step approach sure seems to be working for directional punts, too. He angled out one in the first half at the 3-yard line and just dropped another one inside the 5.

    Take that, Rayner

    A third consecutive Aaron Rodgers-led scoring drive ended with a 52-yard field goal from rookie Mason Crosby. That boot, from the right hash, extended the Packers' lead to 13-9 -- and one-upped incumbent kicker Dave Rayner, who earlier hit a 32-yarder to close the first half. No, the air isn't thin in Pittsburgh. Crosby's got a leg, folks.

    Rodgers-to-Holiday puts Pack on top

    A 3-yard Aaron Rodgers fade to Carlyle Holiday tied the score, and Dave Rayner's extra point gave the Packers their first lead at 10-9 with 9 minutes, 11 seconds left in the third quarter in Pittsburgh. The touchdown pass, completed just over the head of Steelers cornerback Anthony Madison, capped an eight-play, 71-yard drive for the Packers. That's two long drives in a row for the Rodgers-led No. 2 offense, which went 75 yards in 12 plays at the end of the first half before a Rayner field goal. Rodgers now is 14-for-20 for 146 yards and a score with no interceptions.

    How about James Jones?

    If there's a first-half MVP for the Packers offense, it's third-round draft pick James Jones. Getting the job done in practice is one thing, but Jones is making the Steelers' second-string defensive backs look silly. He had nice catches for the Packers' first two first downs, and his longest reception (21 yards) included a catch-and-juke that left Ricardo Colclough on all fours. Jones leads all players with six catches for 58 yards. Aaron Rodgers is a close second, especially after the tough throws he made during the Packers' final drive. He was 10-for-16 for 97 yards, though it should be noted he was throwing at backups. Rodgers likely will play most of the third quarter as well. Rookie running back Brandon Jackson had less luck, running eight times for 14 yards. It will be interesting to see, given the injury situation, how much (if at all) Jackson will play in the second half. Noah Herron had double-digit plays running and receiving and has 33 combined yards on five touches. Pittsburgh has a slight edge in total yards (174-158), passing yards (114-104) and rushing yards (60-54) at the break. Seventy-five of the Packers' yards came on their last drive.

    One note from Pittsburgh: According to Rob Demovsky, running back Vernand Morency is the only one of the Packers' injured players who made the trip. The rest, including starting cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris, are not on the sideline.

    Rayner converts, pulls Pack within six

    Dave Rayner hit a 32-yard field goal from the left hash, pulling the Packers within 9-3 at halftime. It's a big strike for Rayner, who had struggled recently in training camp, giving ground to rookie Mason Crosby in the battle to be the Packers' kicker. Aaron Rodgers hit Ruvell Martin in the back of the end zone with 10 seconds to play, but Martin was flagged for illegal touching because he stepped out of bounds first. The call was upheld upon a booth-initiated review, and Donald Lee got a short pass to set up Rayner's kick.

    A first down! A first down!

    After five brutal drives and nearly 20 minutes of game action, Aaron Rodgers -- playing behind the second-team offensive line -- gave the Packers their first two first downs, both on passes to James Jones. They got out of their own territory, too, but the drive stalled at the 46 when Rodgers' pass on third-and-5 went off Robert Ferguson's fingertips. Too bad Rodgers didn't get more of a look with the starters. He's showing a little bit of the promise and progress he's flashed all offseason, but it's tough to sustain a drive when Junius Coston's getting tossed around by second-string defensive ends in front of you.

    Backup safeties getting owned

    For as good as Cullen Jenkins and the starting defense looked early, the backup safeties are looking totally clueless. And Charlie Batch is looking like a Pro Bowler with a 41-yard touchdown strike to Walter Young and a 49-yard completion to Santonio Holmes. Atari Bigby and Marviel Underwood were on the field for both, with Bigby failing to tackle Young and Underwood misjudging the throw to Holmes. The defense stopped the Steelers after the big Holmes catch, but Jeff Reed banged through a 27-yard field goal to make it 9-0 Steelers. Jenkins has two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

    Steelers strike first, lead 6-0

    The Steelers took advantage of soft zone coverage and a missed tackle by Atari Bigby to take a 6-0 lead. Walter Young (who?) ran past Tracy White, caught Charlie Batch's pass and bounced off Bigby on his way to the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked, leaving the score 6-0.


    Coach Mike McCarthy said his starters would play at least a dozen snaps. He probably didn't think that meant four three-and-outs for his offense. The Packers' fourth drive was their ugliest, too, featuring an airmailed throw by Brett Favre and a holding penalty on Daryn Colledge that pushed them inside their own 10. So far, the Packers have no first downs and 17 yards of offense. It's possible Favre will come out for another series simply because of this 2-for-7 performance, but it's probably not likely. Aaron Rodgers needs time with some of the starters. Ben Roethlisberger didn't do much with his first two drives of the game, but Mike Tomlin wasn't taking chances -- he pulled his starting quarterback in favor of hometown favorite Charlie Batch after only two drives. Roethlisberger finished 2-for-2 for 14 yards, but it was his fumble that cost Pittsburgh great field position in Packers territory on its first drive.

    Packers come out throwing So much for that rookie backfield.

    The Packers threw on five or their first six plays; the sixth was a fumbled snap. Brett Favre completed only two of them, and the Packers didn't manage a first down -- and only 2 yards of total offense. No way this would have been the game plan if the backfield wasn't so short-handed. Brandon Miree's absence alone changed plenty, because there's no way coaches have maximum confidence in converted linebacker Korey Hall at this point. Still, no running plays the first two drives? Didn't see that one coming. The upside for the Packers is the defense hasn't given up much either -- 26 yards and one first down.
    Personnel notes: Atari Bigby and Marvel Underwood have rotated in at safety, and Greg Jennings took the first rep as punt returner, though he didn't touch the ball.

    Second chance comes quickly

    That wasn't what the Packers wanted on their first drive. Brett Favre threw three passes, completing only a short one to Donald Driver, and the Packers went three-and-out. But Cullen Jenkins came back with a strip and fumble recovery on the Steelers' ensuing possession. Starters are slated to play 12 to 15 plays, but getting the ball back quickly gives guys like Favre a better chance to get a few more in.
    One note on the defensive set: Ryan Pickett and Corey Williams got the start at defensive tackles. They played nickel the entire series, with Will Blackmon as the third cornerback.

    Kicked off

    The Packers' preseason is underway at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, with Green Bay taking the ball first.

    Woodson, Harris inactive

    Cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris are among eight players the Packers deactivated for tonight's preseason opener at Pittsburgh.

    The others are: running backs P.J. Pope, Vernand Morency and DeShawn Wynn; fullback Brandon Miree; defensive end DeVon Hicks; and tackle Tony Moll. All of them missed practice the past week because of injuries. Woodson and Harris both sat out Thursday's night practice because of injuries. Woodson injured his hamstring in the morning practice, and Harris has complained of back tightness. They also sat out last Saturday's Family Night scrimmage. The Steelers' inactives are: RB Willie Parker, C Chukky Okobi, G Alan Faneca and LB Lawrence Timmons.

    UPDATE: As expected, fill-in starters are: Korey Hall for Miree, Jarrett Bush for Harris and Patrick Dendy for Woodson.

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    Rodgers 18/27 168 1 0
    I. Martin 1/2 8 0 0
    B. Favre 2/7 7 0 0


    Jackson 16 57 0 15
    White 8 22 0 6
    Herron 4 20 0 14


    Jones 6 58 0 21
    Martin 3 45 0 19
    Bodiford 2 26 0 18
    Francies 2 16 0 11
    Herron 1 13 0 13
    Ferguson 2 7 0 4

    Crosby 1/1 52 0/0 3
    Rayner 1/1 32 1/1 4


    NO AVG I20 LG
    Dougherty 4 47.2 2 56
    Ryan 6 46.8 2 56


    W. Blackmon 1 19.0 0 19
    S. Bodiford 1 18.0 0 18
    D. Clowney 1 24.0 0 24


    Blackmon 2 -2.0 0 0
    Bodiford 2 6.5 0 7


    L. Birdine 5-1 1.0 0 0
    J. Bush 4-0 0.0 0 0
    C. Jenkins 3-0 2.0 0 1
    C. Williams 3-2 0.0 0 0
    N. Barnett 2-0 0.0 0 0
    A. Bigby 2-1 0.0 0 0
    A. Hawk 2-1 0.0 0 0
    A. Kampman 2-0 0.0 0 0
    A. Rouse 2-0 0.0 0 0
  3. porky88

    porky88 Cheesehead

    Mar 10, 2006
    Offense looked awful early on. The 1st team offense never got in rhythm. From Brett Favre to Brandon Jackson, it was just not pretty to watch. I think the play calling has a lot to do with that as well. I thought it was pretty poor to start the game. I think they should've been more balanced right away instead of airing it out from the get go. Just my two cents though.

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    First Quarter

    Packers get ball first. Clowney and Bodiford back. Bodiford to the 17.
    Donald Lee drop even though LB pass interfered him.
    Driver for 3 yards.
    Incomplete, Brett hit hard.
    Ryan punts the ball to the 45 (Steelers). Return of about 5-10 yards. 37 yard punt with return. Penalty on Packers. Tackle by Hall.

    Davenport run for 5.
    Davenport run for 1.
    Cullen Jenkins strips the ball from Roethlisberger and recovers the ball.

    Ferguson for 4.
    Fumble between Brett and Wells. Recovered by Packers.
    Incomplete pass to Driver.
    Dougherty a decent punt. Downed around the 10.

    Washington for 9.
    Davenport for 3. First down.
    Davenport for 4.
    False Start Offense.
    Blackmon nails Ward after 5 yard catch.
    Offside defense (KGB)
    Hawk keeps Davenport from getting first. 0 yard gain.
    Jennings lets punt go out on 12.

    Jackson run for 4.
    Jackson run for 1
    Driver drops pass. Flung by defender though
    46 Yard punt. Jason Hunter with the tackle.

    Batch is now the Steelers QB. Bush tackle Davenport for one yard run.
    Dendy blow coverage. Thankfully it was incomplete.
    Barnett tackle Steeler short of first down.
    Bodiford 6 yard return.

    Favre is still in the game along with all the other starters (both offense and defense). Jackson run for 3 yards.
    Jackson run for 3. Holding on Colledge.
    Brett overthrows Greg Jennings. Communication problem.
    Herron run for 4-5.
    Dougherty 60 yard punt. Return to the 30 yard line (Packers). Holding on
    Steelers. Ball placed on 45 (Steelers).

    Backup defense in. Davenport 21 yard run. Bigby on tackle.
    Haynes runs for 1 yard. Tackle by Montgomery.
    Cullen Jenkins sacks Charlie Batch.
    41 yard TD. Blackmon blew coverage plus had holding penalty. Bigby miss tackle.
    Extra point blocked. Montgomery blocked the extra point. Packers 0 Steelers 6

    Clowney return ball to 22.
    Aaron Rodgers and backups in. Brett went 2-7. Jones catch for 6 yards.
    Jackson 0 yards.

    2nd Quarter

    Incomplete pass almost intercepted.
    Ryan 55 yard punt. 16 yard return.

    Bigby blows coverage. 50 yard reception. Underwood also blew coverage.
    Barlow for 5 yard run. Underwood on tackle.
    Poppinga tackles Barlow for -2.
    Incomplete pass in the back of the end zone.
    Make FG. Packers 0 Steelers 9

    Blackmon return the kick to the 25.
    Jackson run for 3.
    Ferguson a 2 yard catch. Jones catch off a ricochet. Gets a 10 yard catch. First Down.
    Jones 14 yard reception. Rodgers had to avoid rush. First Down.
    Jackson runs for 4 yards.
    Jackson runs for 2 yards.
    Rodgers overthrows Ferguson. Had to avoid rush.
    Dougherty kicks the ball way into the end zone.

    Davenport 17 yard run. An offensive lineman clotheslined someone though. Should have been a penalty.
    Incomplete pass. Walker on coverage.
    Williams tackles RB for 1 yard.
    KGB sack QB even with tackle holding him.

    Bodiford 5 to 6 yard return.
    Aaron Rodgers run for 20 yards. First Down.
    Jones catch for 3 yards.
    Jackson run for 0 yards.
    Franks drops pass that would have gotten the first down.
    Ryan punt goes out on 3 yard line.

    Run for 4. Underwood with tackle.
    Harrell comes in. Cole tips ball. Almost intercepted.
    Walker with tackle after 14 yard reception. First Down.
    Run for one yard. Harrell pushed the runner back.
    Bush tackle receiver after 8 yard reception.
    QB sneak short.
    Punt out of bounds at 11 yard line.

    2:00 minutes remaining. Herron runs for 13 yards. First Down.
    Herron 14 yard reception. First Down.
    Incomplete pass.
    Jones 4 yard reception. Get out of bounds.
    Jones 21 yard reception most after the catch. First Down.
    Incomplete pass. Rushed by several Steelers. Jone still almost caught the pass.
    Herron run for couple of yards. Rodgers 8-13 so far. Call Time Out.
    Martin 15 yard reception. First Down.
    Herron slips one yard run. Time Out.
    Incomplete pass to Herron.
    Rodgers TD to Martin in end zone while on run. Called back because Ruvell Martin stepped out of back of end zone. Then caught the ball. Go to booth replay to see if was out of bounds. Ruling on field stands.
    David Martin 6 yard reception.
    Rayner 32 yard FG attempt, good. Packers 3 Steelers 9

    3rd Quarter

    Rayner kick off almost out of end zone.
    Corey Williams stuffs the RB.
    Bishop tackles RB for 3 yards.
    Blackmon knock ball out of receiver’s had.
    Blackmon returns the punt for negative 3 yards but broke several tackles.

    Jackson runs for 2 yards.
    Ruvell Martin has a 9 yard reception. First Down.
    Martin catches 19 yard pass. Facemask on defense moves the ball even farther. First Down.
    Jackson 0 yard run.
    Bodiford 17 yard reception. First Down
    Jackson run for a couple yards.
    Jackson 4 yard run. Breaks one to two tackles.
    Holliday catch TD.
    Extra Point Packers 10 Steelers 9

    Crosby kicks the ball several yards into end zone. Kneel the ball.
    End around. Tramon Williams tackles him. 9 yards.
    Run for first down.
    Three yard run.
    Incomplete pass. Walker on the coverage.
    Harrell nice pressure on QB. Incomplete pass.
    Blackmon 51 yard return. Comes back on holding penalty.

    Incomplete pass. Pass interference on defense.
    Jackson 16 yard run. First Down.
    Francies 4 yard reception.
    Alcorn 5 yard reception. First Down.
    Jackson 15 yard run. First Down.
    Jackson drops an easy pass.
    Jackson one yard loss.
    Ball tipped. Incomplete.
    Mason Crosby 52 yard field goal, good.

    Return ball to about the 25 yard line.
    Harrell really good pressure. Incomplete pass.
    Harrell sack while being held by a guard.
    Incomplete pass.
    Down ball at 40. Blackmon should have fair caught it.

    Jackson 8 yard run.
    Francies 11 yard catch. First Down
    Jackson evades several tacklers for only a one yard gain.
    Rodgers run out of bounds for -2 yards.
    Rodgers overthrows Holliday. Holliday slipped and fell.
    Ryan gets the ball downed on the 4 yard line.

    9 yard run.

    4th Quarter

    Havner tackle TE after 7 yard catch.
    7 yard run. Tackle by Frank Walker. First Down.
    Rouse creams runner after 8 yard run.
    19 yard run. Tackle by Culver. First Down.
    Out of bounds catch. Walker on coverage. Pittsburgh challenge the play. Think was in bounds. Incomplete pass.
    Hodge tackle after 3 yard reception.
    9 yard reception. Bush on the coverage. First Down.
    3 yard run.
    Larry Birdine creams the QB and gets a sack.
    Incomplete pass.
    False start offense.
    Blackmon fair catch.

    Ingle Martin goes in. Corey White 5 yard run.
    Ingle Martin runs for First Down.
    Corey White 3 yard run.
    White 5 yard run.
    White gets the First Down.
    Martin overthrows Russell.
    White runs for 1 yard.
    Bodiford gets 8 yard reception. Not enough for first down.
    Dougherty’s punt almost blocked. 37 yard punt.

    Penalty for illegal formation. Re punt. Steeler falls on the ball at around the 15 yard line.
    6 yard run. Flag on Steelers.
    RB trips. Harrell on tackle. 1 yard gain.
    Peprah on tackle. 9 yard reception.
    Incomplete pass. Good pressure. Pass interference on the Packers.
    Harrell good pressure on QB. Bjork on the tackle.
    14 yard reception. Tackle by Simpson. First Down.
    4 yard run. Bjork on the tackle.
    Good pass rush. Throw ball away.
    Bush on coverage. Stop receiver short of first down.
    Tramon Williams knocks pass away. Turnover on downs. Leffew (Offensive lineman) plays on defense to fill in for one of the tired defensive lineman.
    Paul Thompson in. White 2 yard run.
    White 4 yard run.
    Ryan almost get the ball to stop on the 1/2 inch line. Refs said went in endzone but I don’t think it did.
    Incomplete pass.
    24 yard reception.

    Last play. Incomplete Pass.


    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    Mike Vandermause column: First-team offense lives down to expectations

    The worst fears about the Green Bay Packers’ offense were realized Saturday in their preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the brutal performance turned in by the starters was any indication, the Packers could be in for a long year. Questions abound about who will score this season, who will run the ball and who will catch Brett Favre’s passes. The Packers didn’t supply any answers against the Steelers, and in fact, created more doubt about how they will move the ball. The No. 1 offense went three-and-out on the first four series. It never came close to picking up a first down. It struggled to move beyond the line of scrimmage.

    Before the starters were mercifully removed late in the first quarter, their four drives netted the following yardage totals: 3, minus-1, 5 and minus-4. If you don’t have a calculator handy, that works out to 12 plays and 3 total yards, for an average gain of 9 inches per play. Favre completed 2 of 7 passes for 7 yards. When he wasn’t being pressured by blitzing Steelers defenders, Favre was struggling to find a receiver that could get open. Rookie Brandon Jackson did nothing to make Packers fans forget Ahman Green. Jackson rushed three times for 8 yards playing with the starters. To make matters even worse, the Packers’ No. 1 unit was guilty of a fumbled snap and a holding penalty. It was an alarming display of ineptitude, but the offensive struggles didn’t come as a complete shock.

    All offseason, General Manager Ted Thompson was quizzed about why he didn’t do anything beyond the draft to bolster the offense. The Packers were one of the worst teams in the NFL in red-zone efficiency last season and ranked in the bottom third of the league in scoring. So what did the Packers do to address those problems? Instead of adding any veterans in free agency or the trade market, the Packers allowed their starting running back (Green) and likely starting tight end (David Martin) to sign with other teams. They were content to draft a running back, a pair of receivers and a tight end, and wait for players already on the roster to improve. The Packers’ passive offseason approach was curious, and the ugly consequences of that strategy were on display for everyone to see against the Steelers.

    Based on the solid showing of the defense, the Packers appear to be a team that will have to win a lot of low-scoring games, which isn’t an impossible task. The Baltimore Ravens won a championship with virtually no offensive firepower in 2000, and the Chicago Bears advanced to the Super Bowl last season on the strength of their defense. No team can be fairly judged on one quarter of preseason football. There is time for players to step out of the back-row shadows into the spotlight. Jackson finished with 57 rushing yards on 16 carries, and fellow rookie James Jones hauled in six catches for 58 yards. Although those numbers came largely against Steelers’ backups, they show there’s at least potential for future offensive success. The regular-season opener is four weeks away, so there’s ample opportunity for the Packers to work out the bugs. But Saturday night provided a snapshot of where the offense stands, and the picture isn’t pretty


    Notebook: Jenkins impressive in preseason opener

    Cullen Jenkins’ contract extension this offseason is starting to look like money well spent. The Green Bay Packers’ defensive lineman, who received a four-year, $16 million deal in February, started the preseason with a flurry. The fourth-year pro easily was the most impressive of any starter — either on offense or defense — during Saturday’s preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. In a continuation of what has been a strong training camp, the 6-foot-2, 303-pounder made three big plays, including a pair of sacks, during the limited playing time the No. 1 defense received. The Steelers started their first possession at the Packers’ 41-yard line thanks to a poor punt by Jon Ryan, but Jenkins bailed him out. On third-and-5 from the 36, Jenkins beat left tackle Marvel Smith and sacked Ben Roethlisberger. In the process, he forced the Steelers’ quarterback to fumble, which Jenkins also recovered.

    “I was trying to turn the corner, and it wasn’t working too well,” Jenkins said in quotes distributed by the team during the third quarter. “I saw him getting ready to throw, so I just tried to time it up and hit the ball when he pulled it back.” On the next series, Jenkins blew up the blocking on a third-and-1 play from the Steelers’ 38-yard line, and it freed linebacker A.J. Hawk to stop running back Najeh Davenport, the former Packers’ backup, for no gain. Jenkins recorded his second sack shortly before Packers coach Mike McCarthy pulled the plug on the starters following their fourth series. On this one, Jenkins beat Max Starks, who came on in relief of Smith at left tackle, and dumped backup quarterback Charlie Batch for an 8-yard loss.

    “We had some pretty good pressure from the D-line,” Jenkins said. “Our goal this year is to be the best defensive line and the best defense in the league. We want to try to carry this team with our play, so we’re just trying to get off to a good start.” Both of Jenkins’ sacks came with him lined up at the right defensive end spot, where he has replaced Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila as a starter in the base defense. Jenkins moved inside to his old defensive tackle spot when defensive coordinator Bob Sanders went to his nickel package.

    Cornerback shuffle

    With starting cornerbacks Al Harris (back) and Charles Woodson (left hamstring) out, the Packers started Jarrett Bush at right cornerback and Patrick Dendy at left cornerback. Will Blackmon worked as the third cornerback in the nickel and later replaced Bush in the base offense. Dendy gave up a 9-yard completion to receiver Nate Washington in the first quarter and got beat deep by Washington later in the first quarterback, but Washington couldn’t haul in a long pass from Batch. Later, Blackmon gave up a 49-yard completion to Santonio Holmes that set up a 27-yard field goal by Jeff Reed with 12:22 left in the second quarter. None of the backup corners appeared to be at fault on Batch’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Walter Young in the first quarter, but Blackmon was called for holding (which was declined) on that play.Frank Walker and Tramon Williams opened the second half at the cornerback spots.

    Other inactives

    As expected, running backs P.J. Pope (knee), Vernand Morency (knee) and DeShawn Wynn (quadriceps), fullback Brandon Miree (shoulder stinger), defensive end DeVon Hicks (groin) and tackle Tony Moll (shoulder stinger) were scratched before kickoff. That meant the Packers opened with a rookie backfield — second-round pick Brandon Jackson at running back and sixth-round pick Korey Hall, the converted linebacker from Boise State, at fullback. Of the injured players, only Morency made the trip with the team. The rest stayed in Green Bay.

    Odds and ends

    Defensive end Michael Montgomery blocked Reed’s extra point in the first quarter. … Rookie James Jones was the No. 3 receiver — ahead of Robert Ferguson — with the No. 1 offense. … Bubba Franks had a bad drop on a pass from Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter. … Jon Ryan punted four times in the first half for a gross average of 47.5 yards and an average hang time of 4.2 seconds. His best punt was a 47-yarder with 4.4 seconds of hang time that went out of bounds at the Steelers’ 3-yard line. Ryan Dougherty punted three times in the first half for a gross average of 47.7 yards and an average hang time of 3.86 seconds. However, one of his punts went into the end zone for a touchback.

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    Plenty of unanswered questions Jackson gets plenty of action in victory over Steelers

    The post-Ahman Green era got off to an entirely inconclusive start Saturday night. To no one's surprise, rookie running back Brandon Jackson didn't make a great deal of headway against one of the National Football League's stoutest defensive fronts in the Green Bay Packers' 13-9 exhibition victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers before a crowd of 57,153 at 65,050-seat Heinz Field. Green Bay is 1-0. Pittsburgh fell to 1-1.

    Jackson, the second-round draft choice from Nebraska, started and was the only running back used on first and second passing downs in the first three quarters. He finished with 57 yards in 16 carries, an average of 3.6 per carry. "We've got to watch the film to check his reads," John Schneider, a personnel analyst to general manager Ted Thompson, said at halftime. "It's pretty hard to tell." A scout for another NFL team offered a wait-and-see assessment of Jackson, who has handled the bulk of the ball-carrying since Vernand Morency suffered a knee injury in the first practice July 28. He remains out indefinitely. "He was good in spurts," the personnel man said. "You can see he's got to work on pass protection, like all young running backs. He's not real patient right now. He wants to stay outside." After gaining just 14 yards in eight first-half carries, Jackson had carries of 16 and 14 yards in a 57-yard drive that was climaxed by Mason Crosby's 52-yard field goal.

    Last year, the Packers were woeful offensively against the 3-4 defense of the San Diego Chargers in their exhibition opener. Schneider acknowledged that the Steelers' 3-4 also is one of the most difficult to run against in the league. Brett Favre completed just 2 of 7 passes for 7 yards in a forgettable showing. In his four three-and-out possessions, the Packers ran 12 plays and gained a paltry 12 yards. "That's what the majority of first pre-season games look like," Schneider said. "The offenses struggle and the defense are ahead. You could see it with their group, too." The Packers stayed with their zone rushing plays against the Steelers' odd-front defense.

    At times, Jackson looked hesitant. At other times, there was little room to run. "A lot of his runs are angle runs," the scout said. "To say he's physical or not, you can't say. But, at the same time, he tries to change direction sometimes in the middle of the hole. That's what little guys do. "What he has to realize is not many guys in this league can make plays by stopping and starting with the ball. He has to work on that." Jackson, however, came back and showed the ability to cut back, find daylight and break tackles in the third quarter. Those big plays came with second- and third-stringers populating the lineups for both teams.

    The Packers' offense came to life under Aaron Rodgers in the second and third quarters. Rodgers directed a 12-play, 75-yard drive in a two-minute situation to finish off the first half on Dave Rayner's 32-yard field goal. Then, to open the third quarter, Rodgers moved the Packers 71 yards in eight plays for a touchdown on a 3-yard pass to Carlyle Holiday. He finished 18 of 27 for 168 yards. "I thought Rodgers improved a lot," one scout said. "His throwing motion has changed. He doesn't have that herky-jerky, shot-put motion. His pocket presence now, he can make a lot of plays. He showed a lot of poise. He surprised me."

    On defense, the Packers played without injured cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris. Moreover, safeties Nick Collins and Marquand Manuel exited after the first three plays. Not unlike Favre, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger did next to nothing in two series before giving way to Charlie Batch. Batch attacked deep, completing a 40-yard bomb to Nate Washington behind Patrick Dendy. Washington, however, was ruled to have come from out of bounds and the gain was nullified. When the Steelers got the ball back, Batch hit 6-foot-4 Walter Young for a 41-yard touchdown on third and 17. The Packers were in an unconventional five-man line and the six players in the secondary appeared to blow the coverage. Young made the catch about 20 yards downfield on the left seam, bounced off an attempted tackle by safety Atari Bigby and outmaneuvered safety Marviel Underwood en route to the end zone.

    On the Steelers' next play from scrimmage, Bigby appeared to bite on a play-action fake and Batch fired a home-run ball to Santonio Holmes in the middle of the field for 49 yards. That set up Jeff Reed's 27-yard field goal and the Steelers led, 9-0. Other than the long passes and a 21-yard run by Najeh Davenport, the Packers played solid defense. They stuffed a pair of third-and-1 situations for no gain, and Cullen Jenkins roared off the edge for two sacks. Jenkins, who signed a four-year deal totaling almost $16 million on the eve of free agency in March, has drawn consistently high praise from coaches for his work this summer. "It's exciting to see a guy that was rewarded and is still playing at a high level," Schneider said. "I thought the defensive line played well." Of the defense, Jenkins said: "Our goal this year is to be the best defense in the league. We want to try to carry this team with our play. We're just trying to get off to a good start."

    Another rookie, wide receiver James Jones, made an impressive debut with six first-half receptions for 58 yards. "He's had a very good camp," Schneider said. "Strong after the catch. Capable of catching the ball away from his body. Made a nice run after the catch tonight." The Packers had lost five of their previous six exhibition openers.

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    Insider: Bad night for safety Bigby

    Thumbs up

    The Packers signed defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins to a four-year contract just before the start of free agency this year based primarily on his play in the final four games of last season, when he took over as starter at right defensive end and was a major factor in the Packers’ good stretch run on the defensive side of the ball. Their decision to reward him with a lucrative contract before he could try the free-agent market is looking good. Jenkins has been one of the Packers’ best defensive players in training camp and opened the preseason with good performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He made two especially noteworthy plays as a pass rusher. The first came on Pittsburgh’s first series, when on third down Jenkins beat starting left tackle Marvel Smith off the edge and knocked the ball from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s hand for a sack, and Jenkins also recovered the fumble. Later, Jenkins beat backup left tackle Max Starks with a bull rush and sacked backup quarterback Charlie Batch. Jenkins also helped stop the Steelers’ No. 1 offense on a third-and-1 in the first quarter when he stacked running back Najeh Davenport before the line of scrimmage. Linebacker A.J. Hawk helped finish off the tackle for no gain, forcing a Steelers punt. Also, Jenkins pressured Batch on a third-and-9 play later in the first quarter with a spin move while working as inside pass rusher. Batch had to dump the ball to running back Verron Hayes for 7-yard gain.

    Thumbs down

    Backup safety Atari Bigby had a strong offseason in minicamps and organized team activities, where he showed as much range as any safety on the team besides Nick Collins. In camp, Bigby has worked with the No. 2 defense and is one of several players with at least a chance to unseat Marquand Manuel in the starting lineup. But Bigby’s play Saturday night hurt his chances. He missed two tackles, let a receiver get behind him for a long reception, and would have contributed to another long reception if not for the ball being slightly overthrown. On Pittsburgh’s first-quarter touchdown, receiver Walter Young released free from the line of scrimmage on a blown coverage and caught a short post route just inside the Packers’ 20. Bigby took a shot at him at the 15 but barely knocked him off stride, and Young scored the 41-yard touchdown. Bigby also missed a clean shot at tackle on halfback Gary Russell’s 16-yard run on a first down early in the second quarter. Bigby also played a major role in allowing a 49-yard pass to Santonio Holmes that led to a Steelers field goal. After Holmes beat cornerback Will Blackmon, Bigby picked up Holmes but also let the receiver run behind him. Marviel Underwood, the other safety, also came over and might have been able to break up the pass but slowed down when he looked back for the ball. Earlier, on a first-quarter play, receiver Nate Washington ran past cornerback Patrick Dendy on a go route, and Bigby was late getting over to help. But Washington couldn’t make the catch on the slightly overthrown pass.

    Did you notice?

    Tight end Bubba Franks looked like the tight end who has struggled as a receiver the last two years when he dropped the only pass thrown to him, a short route over the middle. Franks has had a couple of bright moments in training camp but is in serious jeopardy of losing his starting job to Donald Lee.

    Rookie receiver James Jones caught six passes in the first half and showed why he’s the early front-runner for the No. 3 receiving job. Jones’ longest reception was a 21-yarder on a crossing route, and he also had a 10-yarder that converted a third down.

    The Packers finished 18th in the NFL in punt-return average allowed last year and had a couple of problems Saturday night. Rookie fullback Korey Hall was penalized 5 yards for being downfield too early on the Packers’ first punt. Later in the first half, Cedrick Wilson broke free for a 45-yard return, though it was called back because of a holding penalty on Deshea Townsend. Wilson later had a 15-yard return.

    Both kickers did nothing to hurt their causes in their battle for the starting job. Dave Rayner made a 32-yard field goal on the last play of the first half and hit the kickoff opening the second half to the back of the end zone for a touchback. He later had a second kickoff for a touchback and a third kickoff that went to the goal line. Rookie Mason Crosby made a 52-yard field goal in the second half.

    :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    Rodgers shows what he can do. Backup leads team's scoring drives

    The main knock against backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers during his short, two-year stint with the Green Bay Packers is that he rarely has shown the ability to move the offense. Whether it was in the exhibition season or in relief of Brett Favre, there just wasn't much evidence he was going to prove worthy of his first-round status. Rodgers still has a long way to go, but after leading the team to all the Packers' points in a 13-9 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night - on drives of 75 and 71 yards - he broke through a cloud of anonymity and showed he might be ready to launch a stagnant career. Playing behind the Packers' Nos. 2 and 3 offensive lines all night, Rodgers was forced to make a lot of plays on the run and appeared unfazed. When he escaped the pocket, he didn't necessarily look to run and several times set his feet to make solid throws. It was apparent that his commitment to dropping some weight and lowering his body fat worked in his favor. There were a couple times he could have reacted better to pressure, but for the most part he didn't panic on the road against the Steelers' 3-4 pressure defense.

    "Aaron did a nice job," said Packers personnel analyst John Schneider, who watched the game from the press box. "He had one overthrow, but he scrambled and made some plays with his feet. He looked very poised." Rodgers came in after Favre was ineffective in four series against the Steelers' No. 1 defense. The Packers' No. 1 offense went three and out on all four possessions and managed a total of 19 yards from scrimmage. Favre completed just 2 of 7 passes for 7 yards. On his first series, Rodgers almost threw a costly interception when cornerback Ricardo Colclough jumped in front of Ruvell Martin on a short hitch route and got his hands on the ball. On his second series, playing behind an offensive line that consisted of Orrin Thompson at left tackle, rookie Alan Barbre at left guard, Tyson Walter at center, Tony Palmer at right guard and Junius Coston at right tackle, Rodgers was running for his life. But he started to warm up after overthrowing a wide open Robert Ferguson on a third-down scramble that would have put the Packers in scoring position.

    At the end of the first half, Rodgers led the Packers on a 12-play, 75-yard field goal drive, hitting rookie James Jones on a crossing route for a 21-yard gain, pump-faking and scrambling in order to buy time to complete a 17-yard pass to Martin on third and 8 and completing what appeared to be a 15-yard touchdown pass to Martin off yet another scramble. The officials ruled Martin had stepped out of the end zone before the catch, so he was an ineligible receiver and the touchdown was nullified. But the scramble and throw were impressive, and at least twice Rodgers took big hits in the pocket after releasing passes. "Aaron is a good athlete," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's using his feet, being smart with the football. He had a nice (game)." Kicker Dave Rayner ended up booting a 32-yard field goal to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 9-3 at halftime.

    At the start of the third quarter, Rodgers looked even more poised. It appeared he and the offense received a boost of confidence from the end of the half drive and they went on a march on their first possession. Rodgers threaded a ball across the middle to Martin for a 19-yard gain and then hit Shaun Bodiford on a slant for another 18. After failing on two shots near the goal-line, Rodgers went to his favorite tool - the fade route - and lofted a pass to receiver Carlyle Holiday for a 2-yard touchdown over cornerback Anthony Madison. Rodgers gave way to third-stringer Ingle Martin after leading the team on one more scoring drive, an eight-play, 57-yard jaunt that set up kicker Mason Crosby for a 52-yard field goal with 4 minutes 16 seconds left in the third quarter. Rodgers' performance - he completed 18 of 27 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown - far outshined anything he has done as a professional thus far. He had a 53.0 passer rating in the exhibition season in '05 and a 101.1 in '06 and his two-year passer rating in relief of Favre is 43.9. On this night, Rodgers posted a 95.9 passer rating, and most importantly, did not turn the ball over. It was the kind of performance the Packers are used to getting from their backup quarterbacks, players like Ty Detmer, Mark Brunell, Aaron Brooks, Matt Hasselbeck, all of whom went on to have careers as starters.


    Ryan's new approach a booming success He gets height, distance on punts

    This was Green Bay Packers punter Jon Ryan's first game using his new two-step delivery, and if one performance is any indication he's going to see marked improvement this season. Ryan was a three-step punter last year, but special teams coach Mike Stock didn't like the position where his punter was making contact with the ball. So he had him shorten his strides in the belief it would improve his delivery time and make it harder for defenders to block his punts. Against Pittsburgh in the Packers' exhibition opener Saturday, Ryan had an outstanding night driving the ball both high and with distance. What's more, his first attempt at landing the ball inside the 20-yard line resulted in his punt hitting at the Pittsburgh 3 and bouncing out of bounds. Last year, Ryan ranked ninth in the NFL in gross average (44.5), but his low kicks coupled with an inconsistency with dropping it inside the 20 left him with unacceptable 35.7 net average.

    Ryan looked much more consistent against the Steelers. He started out with a short 37-yard punt to start the game, but then followed up with punts of 56, 50 and 47 in the first half. Ryan averaged 47.5 yards per punt gross and 39.5 net on those four punts. For the most part, Ryan had no trouble getting his punts off. "He was 9½ yards from the line of scrimmage, which is too close for the rush," Stock said of last year. "You don't want to be any closer than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage on impact. Now he's about 11. "He's another step away from the rush. He's one step less for them. In terms of getting the ball away at a certain time from the snap and the kick, it should be to his advantage because they have another step to cover from that 10-yard mark." Rookie free agent Ryan Daugherty received two attempts, one that went 42 yards and another that traveled 56 yards. However, on the second punt, returner Cedric Wilson brought it back 45 yards. It was shortened to 23 after the Steelers were flagged for holding on the play.

    Razor's edge: The great training camp defensive end Cullen Jenkins has been having carried over to the exhibition season. Jenkins notched two sacks rushing off the right end, his new starting position as of the end of last season. Jenkins beat former Pro Bowl left tackle Marvel Smith on the Steelers' first pass play of the game, knocking the ball from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's hands and recovering the fumble. Jenkins beat Smith around the edge and reached in with his left hand to knock the ball loose. Later, Jenkins bull-rushed tackle Max Starks, the team's longtime starter at right tackle who is preparing to be the backup on the left side, and took down Charlie Batch for an 8-yard loss. Jenkins' performance could give other teams a clue that they're going to have to account for him on passing downs. That could give end Aaron Kampman more sack opportunities than he had last year.

    Stuck in the middle: Before training camp began, coach Mike McCarthy said that if the season began that day rookie Justin Harrell would start at right defensive tackle in the base defense and Corey Williams would start there in the nickel. Well, in the first exhibition game, Williams was the one starting next to Ryan Pickett in the base defense. Williams is the incumbent and apparently will get first shot at the position. Harrell has gotten off to a slow start in camp and Williams has been steady as usual. During practices, the tackles have been working in pairs with Pickett and Johnny Jolly one pair, Williams and Colin Cole another and Harrell and rookie free agent Daniel Muir the other....
  10. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

    May 31, 2005
    Thanks for the material, TOPHAT. A couple of comments:

    1. I think Mike Vandermause goes too far in condemning the first string offense. As awful as they were, it was only the first preseason game, they were playing against one of the better defenses in the league, the play-calling was very limiting, and most important, there are a lot of other first-string NFL offenses that have trouble moving the ball in the first week of the preseason. So I don't think it's time to pile on Thompson just yet for his lack of offseason personnel moves. Again, I'm not denying that they stunk the place up, and I'm not denying that I'm worried. I just think it's too early to be making such sweeping statements.

    2. We keep hearing about the loss of Ahman Green, but he was an average player the past two years and was injury-prone. It's funny how when a player gets signed to a high-dollar contract, many people suddenly think that player is really good. But Brandon Jackson is already about as good as Green was the past couple years, and Morency was just as good as Green last year. And Jackson has plenty of upside. Barring injury, the Packers should be okay at RB.

    3. Nobody except me ever seems to acknowledge that Aaron Rodgers played pretty well in the preseason last year. One of these articles casually mentions that he had a 101 QB rating, as if that's a bad thing. I thought he looked very good in the first two exhibition games last year, but then he cooled off in games three and four. I've been impressed with his mobility ever since his rookie year.
  11. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007
    Scout Review


    Thumbs up, thumbs down: Highs and lows of Green Bay Packers’ exhibition opener

    While there was plenty of good in the Green Bay Packers’ 13-9 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night, there also was the not-so-good by the Packers. Here are a few thumbs up/thumbs down thoughts on the Packers:

    Thumbs up: Aaron Rodgers carried over his solid play in training camp onto the playing field. Rodgers was 18-of-27 for 168 yards, and produced the Packers' only touchdown by ending a 71-yard drive on their opening possession of the second half with a 3-yard scoring pass to Carlyle Holiday. Rodgers is ready to start for the Packers, and if Favre should struggle at some point in the season, coach Mike McCarthy would be wise to give Rodgers a shot as the starter. His poise in the pocket is better than ever, and his ability to run with the ball is refreshing.

    Thumbs down: Brett Favre, who looked sharp as a tack in the team’s intra-squad scrimmage a week ago, guided the Packers to four straight three-and-outs before putting on his baseball cap and watching the rest of the game from the sideline. Favre finished 2-of-7 for seven yards and never got into any kind of rhythm with the offense.

    Thumbs up: Will Blackmon had two punt returns for minus-4 yards, but he had a 44-yard punt return called back because of holding in the third quarter. The Packers tried Blackmon, Shaun Bodiford as punt returners against the Steelers, and Blackmon by far showed the best ability to make the first guy miss. Look for Blackmon to be the team’s main punt returner when the regular season starts.

    Thumbs down: Tight end Bubba Franks dropped a couple of passes that were catchable against the Steelers. Ironically, Franks, who has dropped a number of passes in the last two seasons, has been catching the ball well in training camp practices. He obviously was disappointed at himself when he let a pass from Aaron Rodgers bounce off his pads on third-and-8 late in the second quarter that would have given the Packers a first down in Steelers’ territory.

    Thumbs up: Justin Harrell showed few signs of fatigue against the Steelers. Harrell has been struggling to get his ‘football legs’ under him early on in training camp, but on Saturday night he finished with a sack and three tackles after entering the game late in the second quarter. “It’s going to take a little bit to get back out there and get things loose,” Harrell said. “The more I played, the more comfortable I got. The whole game is coming back to me.”

    Thumbs down: Safeties Atari Bigby and Marviel Underwood entered the game with the second string offense in the first quarter after starters Marquand Manuel and Nick Collins were pulled. Both struggled and gave up big passes that allowed the Steelers to take a 9-0 lead between the first and second quarters. Underwood, who injured his hamstring in the game, is battling back from a knee injury that he sustained early in the 2006 training camp. Bigby spend most of last season on the team’s practice squad. Neither Bigby nor Underwood did anything to enhance their chances of sticking with the team after their performances against the Steelers.
  12. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007
    Scout Review


    Thoughts on preseason game: Some observations:

    1. The Packers offense had no rhythm. It established no run game while the starters were in. The Steelers were able to get ample pressure and when Brett Favre got the pass off, the Pittsburgh defenders where there to knock it down or make the tackle for no additional yards. It took five drives and almost 20 minutes for the Packers to get a first down. The Packer receivers had trouble getting separation from the Steelers coverage guys and there were few holes for the Packer running backs. It was not until the end of the first half that the Packers, led by Aaron Rodgers, had a decent drive. Rodgers showed me something special. He moved well in the pocket, showed some poise under pressure and made some decent throws. He displayed some savvy driving the team down the field in the two minute drill. They did not score a touchdown, but it was not his fault. I was surprised he was that fast.

    2. The defense looked good against the Steelers starters. Even without Charles Woodson and Al Harris they stymied them. Things got ugly by the fourth drive with a big run by Najeh Davenport and a TD pass by Charlie Batch, but over all, the starting defense looked pretty good. The defensive line, lead by Cullen Jenkins and Aaron Kampan did a good job getting pressure on the Steeler QBs. Granted Alan Faneca was not playing, but Jenkins was not manned up on the guard. The weak link is still the safety position. When the Steelers made plays, it could be be blamed on the safeties. Like last year, the Packers gave up too many big plays. Probably another communication breakdown. The upside is that they were all against guys who hopefully will not play much. But if injuries were to mount, look out.

    3. First round pick Justin Harrell did not get in until there was about five minutes left in the first half. It looks like the only thing he knows how to do is bull rush and was a non-factor. The only rookie who looked like he belonged was WR James Jones. He had a few nifty receptions and one nice run after the catch.

    4. A penalty flag saved the Packers from an embarrassing punt return in the first quarter. The special teams, especially the coverage teams, have haunted the Packers for a while now. Pittsburgh also had a good return to start the second quarter. It is scary how bad they looked. It had better improve. Field position is too important to sacrifice. The Packers are a very young team and that effects their special teams play. The Packers did block an extra point which is good. It amazes me how Mike Montgomery was able to penetrate up the middle on the kick attempt.

    5. I lost interest at halftime. Not much ever happens in the second half of preseason game that means much once the games count. From what I saw, the pundits seem to be right about the Packers. Better than average defense, no weapons on offense. It is ridiculous to worry so early in the season, but it was not an encouraging show.
  13. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007
    You are right...predictable considering uneasiness to set up a post Favre era...those people have no shame. It's early for judgements and progress will be slow. It is what it is...1st preseason game....I thought MM's press transcript covers it well along with their hopes in early series.
  14. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    Overall though, you're pleased to come back to Pittsburgh and get the win?

    It's important to win, you know winning is important. That was obviously our goal when we came here. The focus for our football team was to come out and play a physical football game against a physical football team. I think we accomplished that. We talked about ball command, ball extraction with the defense with the turnover ratio. Offense did not give the ball up, and I thought that was the key to the game. I saw a lot of positive things out there by our football team, but we still have a lot of work to do.

    How did Brandon Jackson do?

    Brandon Jackson - I thought we got him going there in the third quarter. I don't know if he had a whole lot of running room frankly in the first two quarters. I think he showed what he's capable of doing. He has excellent burst and quickness. He is definitely a threat when he gets to the second level. I thought he had some nice runs. I thought he played physical. From what I've seen, I thought he did a pretty good job in the pass protection, so he's a young man that needs to play.

    What did you think of Aaron Rodgers' performance and can you see him making strides?

    I thought Aaron Rodgers had a nice evening. I thought he did a lot of good things with his feet, thought he was composed in the pocket, thought his ball accuracy and decision-making for the most part was good. I was impressed with him in the two-minute drill and actually gave him another two-minute type situation at the end of the third quarter. I thought he did a nice job with that. The biggest thing with Aaron is the tempo getting in and out of the huddle, handling different situations. I think you see a young man that is getting an opportunity to play, and I thought he had a nice night.

    Any injuries?

    Yes, Marviel Underwood had a hamstring, and Ingle Martin took a blow to the head.

    Can you make any assessments of your offense and defense at this point?

    I'm not going to make any assessments. We'll watch the film. We have a lot of positive things to build off of and plenty of things to work on, and that'll be our focus. Offensively, I think everything that happened out there in the negative category is definitely fixable.

    Your starting safeties weren't out there very long.

    Well, frankly just for playing time. We wanted to take a good long look at the younger guys. I think we accomplished that. We had some targets we wanted to hit, particularly at safety and corner, and I think we accomplished that.

    What coverage were you in on the touchdown?

    I can't tell you - I think we were in quarters. I think Bigby was in quarters and the backside safety Underwood - his play on the ball could have been better. The film will tell me the final say on it.

    How did James Jones look tonight?

    I thought he did some good things. I thought he got gassed in the two-minute drill, and it showed up on the competitive ball down the sideline. He's a strong young man. I thought he did a nice job with yards after the catch, so thought he did some nice things.

    And Harrell?

    I didn't watch him specifically but obviously he flashed. I thought he had some good pass rushes there at the end, was very physical. I think as a whole our line did a number of positive things. We have to continue to get our pad level down. At times I felt our pad level was up on both sides of the ball, so those are some things we need to work on.

    You came out throwing - was that something you scouted?

    No, I had a couple of thoughts going on particularly with the younger group. I thought it was important for Brett to get some reps with the younger receivers. We actually did some run-pass things at the line of scrimmage. They went to press so we ended up leaning towards the pass. There were a couple of different things I wanted to see, and we accomplished them. Our execution wasn't what we probably would have liked, obviously, but I thought it was a good night's work.
  15. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007
  16. Zero2Cool

    Zero2Cool I own a website

    Dec 11, 2004
    Great stuff, but incredibly difficult to hold a discussion in these threads. :(
  17. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007
    Johnnie Gray's Scout Positive Review


    Johnnie Gray: Post-game review Former Packers safety Johnnie Gray returns to PackerReport.com to offer his thoughts of Green Bay's offense and defense in the wake of the Packers' 13-9 preseason win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

    The Pack did okay for the first preseason game and took the first step toward being a much better team than many have predicted for the 2007 this season. Last week at the Family Night scrimmage, fans had a chance to see players get into position to make a play under somewhat game (3/4 speed under control) conditions. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the young players got their first taste of the game speed in the National Football League. Many didn’t get a feel until midway through the half and, unfortunately, for others, never did.

    The defensive line is the strongest unit on this team. When was the last time the Packers had a pass rush with just four linemen on a consistent basis? On Saturday night, the guys showed why they have been given so much praise throughout camp. Every lineman had a hand in creating, being part of or making the play. No slackers in this unit. Cullen Jenkins continued to make plays, first round pick Justin Harrell, as he did last week showed off his strength and ability to get to the quarterback. The D-line is the heart of this team but a few things need to be taken care of first:

    FORCE: Several times linebackers and defensive backs, when forcing the run, would come up and give up their body, thus creating a running lane. This week they will work on coming up to the line of scrimmage, squeeze the hole down, get pad level and stand their ground, not allowing the blocker to hook the outside arm but keeping it free to make the tackle.

    TACKLING: Back in my day during two-a-days you found out in a hurry who could tackle at the NFL level. The ‘nutcracker,’ goal line and short yardage plays were ran every day to test your tackling skills and passion for the game. Coach McCarthy did just that last year in an evening practice after a poor performance. Defensive linemen and linebackers can miss tackles, but when safety Atari Bigby or any defensive back misses a tackle, it’s usually six points. It’s all about attitude.

    FOCUS: Doing your job first will eliminate all mental mistakes. Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes came from the other side of the field to make his 50-yard catch. The defender on that side jumped a shorter route leaving his deep zone open. When a receiver is leaving your area usually someone else is coming in. In zone, you are as deep as the deepest no matter where on the field.

    All of the mistakes made by the secondary is correctable.


    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the most impressive. In the past when playing with the second unit he would take off and run without hesitation and to me that’s not giving your lineman and receivers any faith. Last night his poise in the pocket and only using his scrambling ability when needed is a testament on how hard he worked this off-season to be a better quarterback. I talked with Rodgers last week and he mentioned that because he is such a perfectionist he worked extremely hard on doing a better job of controlling his emotions, which at times to get the better of him. He’s most proud of his fitness level and all the jump roping that he did. His frame is much leaner and his footwork is much quicker. Maturity. The Pack’s first-team offense struggled, but so did the Steelers and many do early in camp. I really would have been worried if the defense looked that bad.
  18. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    "Bart giving best wishes to TOP HAT."


    [align=center]NOTE: ECHO "ME" COMING[/align]
  19. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

    Aug 12, 2006
    Thanks Tophat.
  20. Zero2Cool

    Zero2Cool I own a website

    Dec 11, 2004
    Nice, but how about if you quote me, you dont change it? k thx
  21. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007

    [align=center]You are welcome...as I said I like the forum...Ryan did good!


    :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
  22. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007

    There was a lot to like in the first preseason game. Few penalties, no turnovers, and a lot of physical play. There were a few bad things that caught my attention so I'll get them out of the way. QB Brett Favre and the 1st team offense didn't have any rhythm and couldn't get anything going. The pass defense got burned on a three big pass plays downfield and it appeared that CB Patrick Dendy, LB Tracy White, and S Marviel Underwood were burned. The special team kick coverage and blocking didn't play very well. None of these bad things are a concern at this point.

    Overall the positives outweighed the negatives. I really like the way RB Brandon Jackson runs. He's quick to the line, makes one cut and goes. His stats aren't great, but the offensive line wasn't creating a lot of running lanes. WR James Jones seems to get open so easily, has good hands, and is really good at gaining yards after the catch. A lot of receivers showed good hands (Martin, Holiday, Bodiford) and so far it looks like GM Ted Thompson is going to have a hard time figuring out who to cut. DT Justin Harrell had his first sack against Pittsburgh's third string lineman late in the 4th quarter. The backup cornerbacks (Walker, Bush, Blackmon, Williams) played great, and if a Pittsburgh receiver managed to catch a ball against one of them, he gained no yards after the catch. Pittsburgh managed a few running plays of around 20 yards, but it was usually a problem with a backup linebacker not coming up and making the play instead of a problem with the defensive line, which overall played very well. Another tough roster decision will be K Mason Crosby or K Dave Rayner, who are both kicking really well.

    Best special team player. DE Mike Montgomery gets the nod for blocking an extra point, plus he was solid at defensive end too.

    Best defensive player. DE Cullen Jenkins played only in the first half, but had two sacks and forced one fumble, which he recovered. The first sack was a speed move outside the left tackle while his second sack was a power move that knocked the left tackle back on his heels.

    Best offensive player. QB Aaron Rodgers was not perfect, but this was by far his best performance as a Packer. He was under a lot of pressure but kept several plays alive by moving around in the pocket or scrambling. He was surprisingly accurate while on the run and would have had a 2nd TD pass if WR Ruvell Martin hadn't stepped on the line in the back of the end zone before stepping back in for the catch.
  23. TOPackerFan

    TOPackerFan Cheesehead

    Dec 8, 2004
    I think (at least I hope) that most of the struggles by the first team offense can be attributed to the fact that we didn't gameplan specifically for the Steelers. MM (hopefully) wanted to see a few things on O and called his plays based on that rather than trying to attack the Steelers' D or any specific down and distance situations.

    I was extremely encouraged by the play of the D (especially considering that Harris and Woodson were out). Imagine the kind of pressure we'll be able to generate with guys that can cover for 4 seconds.
  24. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007


    Post-game impressions. Here are a handful of impressions from Saturday's first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers:

    Among the biggest criticisms from the game is that the first team offense basically stalled. It was only the first preseason game and not a lot of critque should be based upon three series, but there is cause for minor concern. Why didn't Brett Favre throw the ball downfield? Not a single pass from Favre was longer than five yards. The blitzing Pittsburgh defense certainly didn't allow Favre to sit back and scan the field for very long, but the blocking did a pretty good job of picking up the blitz on all but a play or two. On a blitz, there has to be a breakdown in coverage somewhere. And the Packers need to exploit that in the future.

    Aaron Rodgers looked good. He completed his passes for a high percentage, and he kept drives going. His twenty yard scramble was clutch. It's only one game, but hopefully there's plenty more where that came from.

    Rookie runnning back Brandon Jackson (pictured) looked better as the game went on. He didn't look like anything special with the first string, but a pair of runs longer than 10 yards while with the second string highlighted his day. Noah Herron and Corey White performed acceptably as well. As a team, the Packers averaged 4.0 yards per carry which will suffice.

    The safeties looked awful. Marviel Underwood and Atari Bigby did nothing to show that they're capable of starting ahead of Marquand Manuel. The biggest head scratcher was when Bigby gave Walter Young a shot in the back on his touchdown score instead of wrapping him up. If anything, Bigby gave Walter a little boost by propelling him toward the endzone. Use your arms! It's basic fundamentals!

    The defensive line was in fine form. Cullen Jenkins highlighted the night with two sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila added a sack. Aaron Kampman was a nuisance in the backfield. First round pick Justin Harrell had a sack. Even Larry Birdine led the team in tackles with five including a sack.

    Will Blackmon really steps up his play in game situations. His 45 yard punt return called back by penalty was impressive. On defense he added a tackle and a pass defensed.

    Bubba Franks dropped a pass on the only one thrown to him. It's not fair to judge his play on one drop, but the Packers certainly can't afford 2006 all over again.


    Return game up for grabs

    There's potential among the candidates for the return jobs for the Green Bay Packers. But after one preseason game there is room for improvement as well. Will Blackmon flashed some elusiveness on punt returns, but getting negative yardage is simply not an option. "Blackmon broke four tackles on one return that went for minus-4," reports Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Then he broke three more tackles on a 45-yard runback that was shortened to no gain by a penalty. He also made a fair catch, then failed to make a fair catch on a 37-yard punt that rolled another 10 yards." If Blackmon can gain some consistency, he may be the best return man of all. A single four yard loss during the regular season, though, may have relegated Blackmon to the bench. David Clowney, meanwhile, had the best kick return on the team Saturday night. Yet if not for slipping, he could have done even better. "Blackmon, Bodiford and rookie David Clowney each took back one kickoff," writes McGinn. "Clowney would have gained more than 24 yards but stumbled and fell without being hit." Neither Blackmon, Bodiford or Clowney figures into the top four at the position at this moment in time. So if any of them makes the team, they could be stealing a roster spot away from another position. It's entirely possible that none of them makes the team at all. If the Packers can struggle through a handful of games, they should have Koren Robinson back shortly into the regular season.
  25. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007



    Cullen Jenkins looks like he was worth every penny we spent on him. He caused a fumble and got two sacks. I think this will be Cullen Jenkins breakout season.
    Aaron Rodgers showed that he is ready to take over once Brett Favre decides to retire. He looked poised even with defensive lineman breathing down his neck. I couldn’t have been much more impressed with Rodgers performance.
    James Jones showed that he was definently worth a third. It actually looked like it was a bargain to get him in the third. He caught everything that came near him. He also showed that he can make yards after the catch.
    Justin Harrell looked quite good in his first game. He had a sack and several nice pressures on the QB
    Mason Crosby definently improved his chance of making the team by making a 52 yard field goal and booming his kickoffs deep into the endzone.


    Patrick Dendy did himself no favors. He was responsible for at least one of the big plays. He needs to shape up or he might not be the #3 CB for much longer.
    Atari Bigby and Marviel Underwood both looked terrible. Neither looked like they could cover anyone deep down the field. I think Manuel will get the starting safety job by default.
    Buba Franks dropped another easy pass that he should have caught. If Humphrey wouldn’t have gotten hurt I think he would be cut this year.


    QB-Brett Favre could get nothing going with the starting offense. He looked off but I am sure he will rebound and will be ready for the regular season. Aaron Rodgers really impressed me. It looked compsed and comfortable in the game even with him having to evade probably at least one defensive lineman on every single play. This game reassured me that Aaron Rodgers should be able to fill in fine after Brett retire. Ingle Martin and Paul Thompson really didn’t do anything in their little playing time. Grade: B

    RB-The running game started off slow. Brandon Jackson didn’t do much in the first half but started to improve in the second half. I think a big reason why he didn’t run well is because the offensive line didn’t really open any holes. What I did like out of Jackson though is when he did get a hole he gained a lot of yards. Jackson also looks really good once he gets out in the open. Noah Herron had a decent game. He had some nice runs but most of them were against backups. Cory White did nothing special in his running. Grade B-

    WR-The Wide Receivers were hit and miss. The starters really failed in getting open. Ferguson dropped at least one pass (I think he dropped at least one more) and didn’t really show anything that will help him make the team. Bodiford had a nice catch but really struggled in the return game which hurt his chances of making the team. James Jones looked amazing though. He caught everything that even came close to him. I think Thompson got a steal with Jones. He looked like a veteran already in his first preseason game. Along with the catches he showed that he has some moves and is pretty good at running after the catch. (I think we will the best top three receivers in the league.) Carlyle Holliday also had a good game with a TD catch. Ruvell Martin also had several nice catches. Grade: B

    TEs-None of the TEs really stepped up. Bubba Franks dropped another pass. (He is so lucky that Humphry got hurt or I think he wouldn’t make the team this year.) Zac Alcorn made a nice catch but that is all he did. Grade: D

    OL-The starting O-Line did a pretty good job in the pass rush. They kept Brett off his back and they didn’t really need any extra blockers. They did struggle opening holes for the running game though. I think this was mostly the reason why Jackson struggled when he was out on the field with the starters. The backup O-Line had the opposite problem. They seemed to open some holes for the running game but couldn’t pass protect at all. Rodgers had to throw pretty much every pass on the run because at least one defensive lineman made it through on every play. Grade: C


    DL-The DL had a great game. Cullen Jenkins (2 sacks and a forced fumble and recovery) showed why he deserved his raise and I think he will have a breakout season this year. KGB also showed that he could be quite effective this year as just a pass rush specialist. Harrell also really impressed me. He got a sack and put several pressures on the QB. Harrell seems to keep improving and hopefully he can make an impact this year. If he can’t make one this year I think he will be a big help next year. The only negative was some of the D-Line got tired at the end of the game and Travis Leffew (OL) had to step in for a few plays. I think this was mostly because the Steelers played a no huddle offense for most of the game. Grade: A

    LB-The LBs didn’t do anything amazing but also made no mistakes. Brady Poppinga had several good plays. Hawk stuffed a runner on 3rd and one and stopped them from getting the first. Nick Barnett also had a good game. As far as the backups there were no standouts for either good or bad play. I was pleasantly surprised that Bjork (the Swedish player the NFL assigned to us) actually made some plays and had a couple tackles. Grade: A-

    CB-Some of the CBs looked good while others looked terrible. Patrick Dendy looked terrible. Hopefully he earned a demotion with his terrible play. He gave up at least one big play and contributed in some of the other big plays. Will Blackmon did some good things while also some bad things. He had some great knockdowns but was also responsible for one of the deep passes. Jarret Bush overall had a great game. He gave up a couple of completions but he was right on the receivers and tackled them as soon as they caught the ball. I was actually surprised by Frank Walker as well. So far in camp he has really struggled but he played very well in the game. He covered very well and stopped several passes that should have gone for completions. Grade: B

    S-The safeties played terrible. Manuel and Collins supposedly only played one series and must have done pretty well because the Steelers couldn’t do anything on offense that series. Then Underwood and Bigby came in. They both looked terrible. They were both responsible for at least some of several big plays. Bigby got big praise from Al Harris and Charles Woodson recently and this performance definently didn’t back up what they said. Sadly at this point I would have to say that Manuel is actually the second best safety (I hate Manuel and I think he sucks.) One piece of good news is that it looks like Aaron Rouse is improving and he can definently hit. Grade: C-
    Special Teams

    K-Both kickers showed that this competition will go down to the end. Both made their field goals even though Crosby’s (52 yards) was quite a bit longer. They also both did very well in kickoffs since all the kickoffs went into the endzone and I think they all went for touchbacks. Grade: A

    P-The punters were hit and miss. Dougherty showed in the game that he is just a camp leg and that Jon Ryan will be winning the punter position. Ryan was good in some aspects and suffered in others. Ryan didn’t have as long of hangtime as I would have liked, which led to some longer returns. He did exceptionally well with his placement kicks though. He had one punt that went out inside the 10, one that went out at the 3, and one that stopped at the half yard line (the refs said it went into the endzone but I don’t think it did). Grade: B+

    Special Teams Coverage-Overall average. The coverage teams gave up some big returns but also had some really good stops. Grade: C

    Special Teams Returning-I wasn’t really impressed with any of the returners. I think Bodiford really hurt his chances of making the team. His returning wasn’t very good. According to other people Will Blackmon supposedly did quite well returning punts. Grade: C

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