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Friday, Aug. 30, 2013

Ted Thompson Has Tough Roster Decisions to Make Following Packers' 30-8 Loss to Chiefs

Looking Pack: Preseason Week 4

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Jim Biever / Packers.com
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Green Bay fans who opted to sit through the entirety of Thursday night’s Packers 30-8 loss in Kansas City didn’t see much in the way of offense. Aside from occasional glimmers of excellence, defense was lacking as well. As devoid of immediate impact the Packers preseason finale may have been, the last exhibition could carry untold significance into the regular season, as fringe players were vying for some of the final spots on the team’s 53-man regular season roster.

On the first Chiefs play from scrimmage, Tramon Williams—a player with no worries in regard to job security—made his presence known with an acrobatic interception of a Chase Daniel pass in the veteran’s cornerback’s first action of the season. Williams’ pickoff set up a 48-yard Mason Crosby field goal on Green Bay’s opening drive. From there, the Packers and Chiefs exchanged stalled first half drives, occasionally saved by Crosby and Ryan Succop field goals. Following a Johnny Jolly personal foul penalty (the DT’s first detour on his preseason path to redemption), Kansas City capitalized on the miscue with an eight-yard Junior Hemingway touchdown reception, tossed by likely third-string Chiefs quarterback Tyler Bray to give Kansas City a 13-6 lead just before the half.

KC’s first half output turned out to be enough, as Packers starting quarterback Vince Young (and let’s hope that’s the last time those words appear together on one of these recaps!) did little to justify being handed the set of spare keys to the offense when Graham Harrell was cut Sunday. The former Rookie Of The Year managed just 144 yards on 14 completions (30 attempts) and a pair of fumbles that were recovered by the Packers, fortunately. However, Young’s implied slot at second string is still safe on account of B.J. Coleman’s self-imposed practice squad exile after a two of seven, 19-yard night punctuated with a careless interception.

The running game fared even worse—amassing just 61 combined yards (12 of which came on the feet of a scrambling Young) on 24 carries. While rookies Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin as well as second-year back Alex Green failed to find much daylight, the youthful corps’ default veteran James Starks—in rare, healthy form—exhibited shades of the sparkplug rushing threat that helped Green Bay to the Super Bowl in 2010. He finished with just 14 yards on a trio of carries, but broke tackles and hit the edge in his few opportunities, perhaps helping people concerned over Dujuan Harris’ season-ending injury to breathe a bit more easily.

Despite Kansas City’s 30 points on the night, a few Packers defensive reserves played well in their final chance to seal their fate with the team. Linebacker Sam Barrington seemed to carve a spot on the team (or, that failing, a place elsewhere in the league) with a strong preseason finish, which included six tackles and a sack (that resulted in a safety). Undrafted safety Chris Banjo seemed to ensure his feel good story will extend into the regular season, as he capped off a strong four-game stretch with two tackles, a sack and a near-sack on a safety blitz. Micah Hyde had two tackles and a sack as well, in addition to looking every bit the part of punt returner.

Despite a team-leading eight tackles, rookie Chaz Powell will likely join Brandon Smith, Loyce Means and David Fulton as odd men out of a loaded menagerie of skilled defensive backs. Ted Thompson will have some difficult decisions to make in regard to which linebackers to keep of Jamari Lattimore, Terrell Manning, David Palmer and Andy Malumba.

Offensively (using the term loosely), Ty Walker—with five receptions… and a fumble—and returnman/receiver Jeremy Ross likely usurped some dwindling roster spots. However, rookie Myles White’s sure handedness and special teams value could help him latch on to Green Bay’s sturdy group of receiving weapons.


Player Of The Game (Offense) – Jeremy Ross

Ross’ leaping 26-yard catch along the sidelines suggests he’s more than just a returner. He finished with three catches for a team-high 50 yards.


Player Of The Game (Defense/Special Teams) – Tim Masthay

As discouraging as Masthay being called upon to punt NINE times in the game may be, he booted one 57 yards and landed three within the 20 yard line. His booming kickoffs didn’t hurt either.

Up next: Regular season opener at San Francisco at 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, September 8.