The Green Bay Packers evened their preseason record at 1-1 with a 20-10 win over the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.
Head coach Matt LaFleur sat out 30 players in this game including most of the team’s starters. Still, there were definite highlights and a few concerns in this game that featured a lot of players fighting for a roster spot.
Here are 10 quick takeaways from the Packers victory over the Saints:
- Jordan Love Showed More of His Potential
Jordan Love looked better than he has in any of his previous appearances. He looked cool, confident and kept his head when under pressure.
Statistically, the game doesn’t look spectacular as he completed 12-of-24 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. But Love didn’t throw a pick, knew where to go with the ball, threw (mostly) accurate passes and was decisive.
Unfortunately, there were too many dropped passes by the receiving corps especially in the second half.
Love is still a work in progress, but the arrow is clearly pointing up.
- Special Teams Continues to Frustrate
Kick return coverage continues to be a problem as the Packers allowed a 59-yard return and had 12 men on the field on another occasion. Another long punt and kick return were canceled by Saints penalties.
Clearly, Rich Bisaccia’s group still has some work to do to before the season starts. The lineup on coverage teams has not been finalized obviously but they can’t allow this poor execution to continue.
- S Micah Abernathy Made a Big First Impression
The Packers signed safety Micah Abernathy earlier this week and the former USFL star made a great first impression in his first preseason action. He made a diving interception and managed to stay in bounds in what was likely the turning point of the game and then made a good read to create a tackle for loss in the second half.
Abernathy may be a long shot to make the team but he certainly caught the eye of the coaching staff and gave them something to think about.
- Backup Inside Linebackers Looked Good
Inside linebacker depth was a big question mark for the Packers entering training camp but there seems to be reasons for optimism after the first two preseason games.
Isaiah McDuffie was in on six tackles and looked fast, decisive and was in the right place at the right time.
He appears to have taken a jump since his rookie season where he barely saw the field on defense.
While McDuffie made plays early, Krys Barnes was active in the second and third quarters. The third-year man out of UCLA has lost his starting job to Quay Walker but made two tackles and broke up a pass. Barnes lacks Walker’s elite athletic ability but his intelligence and work ethic make him a good football player.
The combination of McDuffie and Barnes gives the Packers a potentially strong group of backup ILBs.
- Tyler Goodson Continues to Play Well
Undrafted free agent running back Tyler Goodson had another solid performance after getting off to a good start a week ago. Goodson led the Packers with 10 rushing attempts and gained 42 yards including a 15-yard effort which was the longest run by a Packers RB in this game. He looked decisive and had good burst through the hole.
Patrick Taylor got the start and had his moments as well. He finished with 27 yards on eight carries. He also made some tackles on special teams.
The battle for the RB3 spot continues with Goodson seemingly having an edge at this point in the competition.
- Tyler Davis Continues to Struggle
Tight end Tyler Davis continues to struggle after earning high praise at OTAs. He committed a holding penalty that nullified a good catch by Romeo Doubs and then later fumbled on his only catch of the game.
Davis is in danger of getting cut if he doesn’t pick up his game immediately. He just hasn’t shown any of the promise he demonstrated in May and June since training camp got underway.
- Caleb Jones Is a Big Man
Offensive tackle Caleb Jones is listed at 6’9” and 370 pounds. If he makes the roster, he will be the biggest player in franchise history. How big is he? The Packers don’t seem to have a uniform that fits him properly.
The Indiana alum is also strong and almost seems to engulf defenders when he’s blocking them straight ahead on running plays.
When he’s asked to move, however, whether it’s on pass blocking or running plays that require mobility, Jones struggles with his footwork and the quickness of defensive players.
Jones has shown some potential but he obviously needs to improve his footwork and technique. Still, he’d make an intriguing addition to the practice squad.
- Amari Rodgers Continues to Make Fielding Punts an Adventure
Last week, Amari Rodgers looked more decisive when returning punts but against the Saints, he regressed to his rookie form. He nearly fielded a punt that bounced inside the 10 and was lucky it bounded away from him and into the end zone. Still, Rodgers was trying to field the punt, he just couldn’t reach it.
Then, he fielded the next punt inside the 10 instead of letting it roll into the end zone and a penalty made the Pack start their next drive at their own 2-yard line.
I know Rodgers is trying to win the return job and impress the coaching staff but he must be smart about how he fields punts or he has no chance of winning the job.
- Chris Slayton Continues to Shine
Defensive lineman Chris Slayton put together another impressive performance and continues to make it tough for the team to cut him.
Officially, Slayton was in on five tackles but he also had a sack nullified by a penalty by Jack Heflin. Slayton is smart, positionally sound and never stops hustling.
- Juwann Winfree Looks Consistent
Winfree has a tough battle on his hands in a crowded wide receiver room but the veteran had another solid game, making three catches for 41 yards.
He ran a picture perfect crossing pattern against a zone defense in the first quarter to convert a third down and then made another impressive catch in the second quarter.
Winfree is dependable and I’m sure Aaron Rodgers will put in a good word for him before cuts are made to keep the veteran around in some capacity.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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