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Most Key NFL Players Are Skipping the Preseason Games

We won’t be seeing Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari or Jaire Alexander, getting meaningful play in preseason games – this year or in the future.

It’s never been a question of right or wrong, but rather one of risk vs. reward. Not only has head coach Matt LaFleur come down on the side of injury risk avoidance, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers might be the league’s most vocal opponent of putting key players on the field during preseason games. Aaron has argued for going on three years now that such games are “meaningless.”

I took a look around the league at the third three preseason games of this year. Here are the stats of the top 20 passing yardage QB’s (in order, but omitting the retired Andrew Luck) from 2018 for Game 3 of this year’s preseason schedules:


Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – 8 of 13, 63 yards

Patrick Mahomes (KC) – 8 of 10, 126 yards

Matt Ryan (ATL) – 9 of 14, 74 yard

Jared Goff (LAR) – Zero

Aaron Rodgers (GB) – Zero

Tom Brady (NE) – 8 of 12, 75 yards

Philip Rivers (LAC) – Zero

Eli Manning (NYG) – 4 of 8, 41 yards

Kirk Cousins (MIN) -3 of 13, 35 yards

Deshaun Watson (HOU) – 0 of 0

Derek Carr (OAK) – Zero

Drew Brees (NO) – 4 of 6, 68 yards

Case Keenum (DEN/WSH) – 9 of 14, 101 yards

Dak Prescott (DAL) -2 of 5, 22 yards

Matthew Stanford (DET) – 12 of 19, 137 yards

Baker Mayfield (CLE) – 10 of 26, 72 yards

Russell Wilson (SEA) – 6 of 9, 117 yards

Cam Newton (CAR) – 4 of 6, 30 yards

Mitchell Trubinsky (CHI) – Zero

Carson Wentz (PHI) – Zero



Aaron Rodgers was one of six of the above star quarterbacks who had no preseason games stats last week. Fortunately, the Pack’s first opponent, the Bears, also chose to keep Mitchell Trubisky on the sidelines this preseason. Coaches and quarterbacks who defied the trend included: Detroit’s Matt Patricia and Matt Stafford, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, and Kansas City’s Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. Of these 20 quarterbacks, only six were sacked: Newton and Cousins (twice), and Keenum, Mayfield, Watson, and Wilson (once).

Though not in last season’s top-20 list, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan had QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s coming off an injury from last season, play most of his Game 3; he finished with 14 of 20 passing for 188 yards and suffered one sack.  Given that the Packers have their first new head coach in 14 years, and will unveil a new offensive look – which they’ve yet to reveal during the preseason – Packers fans will be tuning in on September 5 with an enormous amount of trepidation.

Though the offense is beset with uncertainties and unknowns, the defense has benefitted from a bounty of new veteran acquisitions, and second-year defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s defensive tactics should now be ingrained in his returning players. For a change, the defense might be the strength of the 2019 Packers.


The retirement of Andrew Luck has brought shock to Indianapolis. Jacoby Brissett is ready to move up to being the starter, though the Colts will undoubtedly be looking for a new backup QB. Running back Lamar Miller had been indestructible in his first three years with the Texans, averaging close to 1,000 rushing yards per season. That ended on Saturday, when he suffered a torn ACL and MCL. Carolina QB Cam Newton, has been getting around in a walking cast until recently, but he’s a tough guy who could be ready for the season opener. QB Daniel Jones, the sixth overall pick out of Duke, has impressed the Giants, and might compete for playing time if aging Eli Manning slumps. Another rookie QB, Bengals’ fourth rounder Ryan Finley, has completed 73 percent of his throws this preseason.

As I write, safety Josh Jones, who asked for his release from the Packers, has not been picked up on waivers. It’s not surprising, as teams are understandably reluctant to take on a player who stabbed his former team in the back when he feared he would not be named a starter in 2019.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Ferris August 29, 2019

    Matt Stafford won the pre-season. Someone bake a banner.

  2. PF4L August 29, 2019

    Simple Packer fans might want to prepare themselves for what’s to come in terms of this franchise winning, at least for awhile. Anyone with any football knowledge has (warned) told us, this is a process that takes awhile, including LeFleur.
    Consider where this team fell in terms of talent and depth through the last 5,6 years. Not entirely depleted, but certainly in no danger of winning Championships, this now, becoming evident even to the most thirsty kool-aid drinkers. When i kept posting that this team regressed through the years, did you think i was full of shit?
    So we are still in slo-mo rebuild mode, we have a 2nd year defense, 2nd year GM, 1st year, 1st time head coach, and a brand new first year offense. Here’s what’s not different. We are still banking on rookie draft picks (as you heard me discuss the last 3,4 years), making a difference. We are still banking on free agent signings that can actually play well, not just be compensated well.
    What to expect…….what can we expect to see this season? Probably some struggles, hopefully some flashes that make us optimistic this thing could turn around in a year or two. Probably some miscommunication with the team playing together as being new units. Possibly some signs of toughness and attitude on defense (an identity). Maybe Rodgers getting back to MVP form with Adams, and largely the same receiving crew as last year, (banking on those 2nd year receivers and,,,,(cough) Jimmy Graham. Maybe the O line getting back to respectability with 11 million dollar investment Billy Turner (starter?) Does 11 million get us a starter? Does 11 million buy us a capable back up tackle if needed? Is 2nd round pick Elgton Jenkins (44th pick) expected to start? I hope so, that means we raised our expectations that 2nd round picks warming the bench is no longer acceptable.
    Another season, another 200 questions with few answers…sound familiar?
    This team might not even be ready to win, we’ll soon find out. So for those thinking a record of 10-6 to 12-4? Good luck with that. 9-7 might even keep Murphy employed, as twisted as that is.
    Yes, Gute drafted some players, spent gobs in free agency….i get it. We also did both of those things the season before. So maybe i’m wrong, as i tend to often be, and the Packers light the league on fire this season. Well guess what, if it does i’ll be the first to praise them over it. When i SEE IT, i’ll acknowledge it. But there are two things i’m fairly certain about….1) Rebuilding in this Mark Murphy manner is a slow arduous process that may, or may not bear any fruit. 2) If anyone out there is looking for the Packers to put up a 50 burger against the Bears Sept. 5th like they did back on Nov. 6th 2014, only bet what you can afford to lose.
    How far have the Packers fallen, when the goal now is….. making the playoffs? Sad, when you think about that and let it digest.

    Although i thought the #1’s should get some game time in pre-season, looking at the big picture, it barely matters.

  3. Mitch Anthony August 29, 2019

    I can’t disagree with, well, pretty much any of that. I’m watching this and saying to myself, “Wow, I really hope the starters are so much better than this.” I mean, sooooo much better. They’re gonna have to be.

    Be pragmatic and realistic when thinking about expectations for this season.

    I seen a sideline interview with Billy Turner. Billy Turner looks more like he is in audition mode for the Black Eyed Peas. I hope he plays like the $11 million dollar man, I really do.

    During commercial breaks I seen Donald Driver doing ads for Wisconsin tourism. I think the world of Donald Driver as a person and Packer. Does anyone else think he is turning into Scatman Crothers? Cause he sure does look it in those ads. Which is cool because Scatman was cool too.

    1. Ferris August 30, 2019

      Could have kept that Turner money and played Jenkins at RG. Hindsight. Jenkins will replace him soon. No matter who starts or plays, with Spriggs and Barclay not on the field the Offensive line is better.

  4. stiggy August 29, 2019

    Rob… the reason Jones hasnt been picked up is because there is a bidding war for his services.

    1. Ferris August 30, 2019

      He got calls from 31 teams.

  5. PF4L August 29, 2019

    I watched this game off and on, more than any other game this pre-season, i thought they played this game pretty decent considering the players involved, many which won’t be in the NFL in a few days. 3 for 3 in the red zone.
    I believe the starters will look much more skilled Mitch, but as i stated, plenty of mistakes and missed assignments will happen, it’s inevitable under the circumstances.
    I really am pulling for LeFleur. He seems to have an air about him that seems likable. He comes off as fairly honest about player performance and i like his confidence when it comes to expressing his view and not dancing on the fence, not wavering about certain things…so far anyway. I’m waiting to see his…”come to jesus moment” when he’s had enough of someone’s bullshit, or a players poor play. I want to see that he has it in him. McCarthy apparently wanted to please all his players. I say bs to that, that isn’t his job to make sure all the players like him. That’s probably why McCarthy would share running the ball when one player was the hot shoe, and still didn’t get the carry’s. We all saw that.

  6. MJ August 30, 2019

    Nice summary, thanks, Rob.