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Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013

Lacy, Finley, Crosby shine in St. Louis; Packers take down Rams 19-7

Looking Pack: Preseason Week Two

eddie lacy
Eddie Lacy - Photo credit: Jim Biever / Packers.com
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The Packers were without 2012 starters Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Jarel Worthy, as well as 2013 first round pick Datone Jones in St. Louis Saturday. Despite the absences, Green Bay breezed past the Rams 19-7, largely thanks to some unexpected sources, including a productive night from a perennial underperforming tight end, a perfect evening from an inconsistent kicker and an encouraging debut from a rookie rusher.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers stormed out of the gates on the opening possession. Rodgers connected with Jermichael Finley twice on the drive for 36 of the tight end’s team-leading 78 receiving yards, while second round pick Eddie Lacy provided some balance on the ground in his first preseason contest, dashing for 33 (of his 40 total rushing yards on eight carries) on a trip down the field that culminated in a 34-yard Mason Crosby field goal.

From there, the Packers never looked back. Before exiting the game after the first possession of the second quarter, Rodgers had 10 completions in 12 attempts and a team-high 134 passing yards. Following Rodgers’ departure, backups Graham Harrell and Vince Young combined for 68 yards through the air (and 18 on the ground) in the second and third quarters. Fortunately, Green Bay showcased its defensive depth, victimizing the outmatched Rams second- and third-string offense.

Rookie cornerback Micah Hyde made the most of his opportunity in the depleted secondary, tallying a team-high five tackles and a sack. Undrafted (not counting the CFL draft, in which he was selected second overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers earlier this year) rookie linebacker Andy Mulumba continued turning heads with his second decent showing of the preseason, including three tackles and a sack. Linebackers Loyce Means and Robert Francois (three tackles apiece), as well as occasional cornerback/special teams wunderkind Jarrett Bush (interception) each made the most of their late-game opportunities.

Embattled defensive tackle Johnny Jolly continued down the path to redemption with an even better showing than his tremendous performance in the preseason opener. Not only did he jam up the middle and insight double-teams; the 325-pounder also registered a pair of tackles, a tipped pass (resulting in Bush’s interception) and a goal line interception of his own. Barring injury, Jolly will be impossible to leave off the final roster.

On the offensive side of the spectrum, B.J. Coleman’s status isn’t as certain. After scuffling against Arizona last week, last season’s number three quarterback was dropped to fourth on the depth chart, in favor of incumbent clipboard-clutcher Young. However, the pendulum might have swung back in Coleman’s favor by game’s end Saturday. The second-year playcaller outshone both Harrell and Young with eight completions for 86 yards and Green Bay’s only touchdown, a nine-yard strike to rookie tight end Jake Stoneburner in the fourth quarter. It’ll be interesting to see how Mike McCarthy decides to use Young and Coleman in next week’s game.


Player Of The Game (Offense) – Eddie Lacy

In his first game, the rookie rusher had 51 combined yards (40 rushing) and briefly reminded Packer fans what it was like to have a viable running game. He showed shades of Samkon Gado.


Player Of The Game (Defense/Special Teams) – Mason Crosby

The scapegoat kicker put his best foot forward Saturday with three field goals (from 34, 40 and 30 yards) and one extra point in as many tries. In his first opportunity this preseason, Crosby showed signs of shedding his shaky stigma and gave himself a leg up on challenger Geno Tavecchio (who missed one of his two field goal tries) in the kicking competition.


Up next: Hosting Seattle Seahawks at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 23.