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Preseason Success Doesn’t Mean Regular Season Opportunity

Good preseason performances help players make the Green Bay Packers roster, but they seldom lead to increased regular season playing time.

All you have to do is look at preseason performances of the offensive skill position players from 2015.

Last year’s preseason breakout performer was undoubtedly quarterback Brett Hundley. He had the most attempts, completions, best completion percentage, and a fabulous passer rating of 129.6 during the preseason. Though his fine showing didn’t lead to him seeing any action during the regular season, it did eventually get him moved up to backup quarterback. It allowed the Packers to be comfortable letting Scott Tolzein sign with the Colts in March.

John Crockett was the team’s leading rusher last preseason, though his 26 carries for an average of 3.7 yards wasn’t impressive. Crockett didn’t make the final roster. He was cut, signed to the practice squad and then elevated when the Pack dumped Alonzo Harris. On nine regular-season rushing attempts, Crockett averaged only 2.3 yards.

The Packers’ top preseason receiver last year was Myles White, who had 16 catches for 157 yards. White was released when the Packers signed James Jones. He caught on with the New York Giants, finishing there with seven catches for 88 yards.

Jeff Janis was right behind White, with 149 yards on 10 catches – three for touchdowns. Unfortunately, Janis had only two catches for 79 yards during the regular season.

There was spirited competition among tight ends. Rookie Kennard Backman had seven grabs for 64 yards and Andrew Quarless was close behind, with seven for 62.

Despite these showings, Quarless had only four catches, and Backman none, in their regular season appearances.

The same pattern established itself among the returners, where the Packers are known for preseason experimentation.

Running back Rajion Neal was the top preseason kickoff returner, with a 28.3-yard average. Neal, however, didn’t make the final roster.

Ty Montgomery, who averaged 22.5 yards on four returns in preseason, was first up when the season started. He did very well, averaging 31.1 yards on his seven returns.

Janis, who had only one kickoff return in the preseason, stepped in for Montgomery in October, when he injured his ankle. Janis averaged 29 yards per return on 14 returns.

The Packers’ designated punt returner during the season was Micah Hyde, even though he returned no punts in the preseason.

While neither Jared Abbrederis, Janis or Montgomery returned more than four punts during preseason, only Abbrederis had a decent showing. He averaged 11.7 yards per return. Abbrederis, however, had no punt returns in the regular season, despite this.

Hyde had a dismal average of 5.8 yards on his 27 regular season punt returns. His chief backup, Randall Cobb, averaged even less – 2.5 yards on four returns.

Plenty of guys will get opportunities this preseason. Some of them will put up numbers.

Some of those numbers may even warrant a roster spot. It’s unlikely that they’ll translate into any real regular-season playing time, however.

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Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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2 Comments

  1. Howard August 3, 2016

    The preseason is in part to provide young players experience and to evaluate their abilities. In addition the team gets to see if veterans on the bubble still have what it takes physically.

    One of the reasons some players have good stats is they are playing longer in the games, and playing against opponents that may be 3rd and 4th tier players when they are 2nd or 3rd tier players. 2nd tier players, and some 3rd tier players will make the team, however they will not be on the field unless the 1st or 2nd tier player is hurt.

    The one player last year who really stood out to me was Hundley. Hundley did play against the opponents 1st tier guys in some of the preseason games and performed very well. In fact he performed better than any 1st or 2nd year Packer QB I have ever seen play in preseason games.

    1. PF4L August 3, 2016

      Exactly….Because of the CBA neutering teams practice times. Each year we’ve seen the veterans play less and less in pre-season. I see that trend continuing.

      As far as first tier players playing in the pre-season. Those players usually aren’t going to give 100%. Their starting jobs are secure barring injury. They don’t have anything to prove, or risk injury over. That’s one reason i just don’t put a lot of stock in the pre-season, other than to see rookies and 2nd or 3rd year guys show flashes of outstanding play, and i think that’s mostly all the coaches are looking for.