It’s finally over. A lackluster preseason comes to a lackluster end, as the Green Bay Packers fall to the Kansas City Chiefs, 17-7.
The game and the outcome are the least important thing here, though. That was clear when the Packers rolled out with all backups on offense on their first series.
The Packers played more of their regulars on defense, including Damarious Randall, Nick Perry, Quinten Rollins, Blake Martinez, Micah Hyde, Sam Barrington and Jake Ryan.
That inside linebacker rotation of Barrington, Ryan and Martinez suggests the Packers haven’t decided who will start there or play when. We had already handed the starting spots to Barrington and Martinez. Ryan showed why he shouldn’t start on the Chiefs’ first touchdown when he took a terrible angle (reminiscent of my hero, A.J. Hawk), allowing Knile Davis an easy lane to the end zone.
Also notable on the defense is undrafted rookie Kentrell Brice started at safety alongside Hyde. He’s had a roster spot for a while in our minds, but that would seem to confirm it.
Here’s what else and who else I noted.
It was hard not to notice Jacob Schum because, hey! The Packers have a new punter. Schum, who we have already taken to calling Bum, punted a lot. Schum put three inside the 20 and would have had a fourth if the coverage unit knew what they were doing. According to NFL.com, he averaged just 41.3 per kick with a long of 57. According to ESPN, Schum averaged a distinctly better 45.5. What do we have here? Possibly an improvement over Tim Masthay, but this was just one preseason game.
The one guy I believe earned a roster spot on Thursday night was cornerback Josh Hawkins, another undrafted rookie. Hawkins repeatedly had tight coverage on his man and came up with his second pick of the preseason. In my mind, the Packers have a choice between Hawkins and Robertson Daniel. Both of those guys have outperformed Demetri Goodson. Daniel certainly wasn’t bad either, but Hawkins looks like a future playmaker.
On the flip side, the guy I think cost himself a roster spot was running back Brandon Burks. Forget Burks terrible 2.6 yards per carry average on the night. The offensive line was terrible in all aspects, but especially in the running game. What is going to cost him is the fumble at the end of the third quarter. On my roster, the Packers keep only two running backs and fullback. That turnover likely made Burks a practice squad guy.
The veteran who impressed most was Badger great Jared Abbrederis. Obviously, there was the spectacular 40-yard over-the-shoulder catch, but that wasn’t it. The Packers were atrocious on punt returns in 2015. Abbrederis demonstrated that he might be the answer there in 2016. Abbrederis averaged 14 yards per return, thanks largely to a 42-yarder. Abbrederis has big-play ability regardless of where he is on the field.
The receiver position seemed a little clearer as the game started. The Packers ran out Abberderis, Trevor Davis and Davante Adams first. That tells us those guys are ahead of Ty Montgomery and undrafted rookie Geronimo Allison. Then Davis injured his shoulder. He didn’t return. Perhaps that injury will help decide the roster spots here. If it doesn’t, Allison is clearly out (and likely is anyway) and Montgomery might be in danger.
Lastly, I’ll note a couple linebackers we’ll end up seeing very little of in the regular season (barring injury). Rookie outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell had himself a monster night. He racked up 10 tackles and spent most of his evening in the Chiefs’ backfield. ESPN credited him with six tackles for loss. The Packers could be just fine getting rid of Jayrone Elliott. Fackrell seems to improve from week to week. Second, is inside linebacker Carl Bradford. The former fourth-round pick finally looks like an NFL player and has earned a roster spot in our estimation. The only question is, will the Packers keep four or five inside backers? If four, Bradford gets the spot over Joe Thomas — who’s also had a hell of a preseason, but hasn’t been healthy the past two games.
First come cuts and then we can finally turn our attention to Jacksonville.