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By CHRIS HAVEL
While Green Bay’s pre-season game against Philadelphia on Saturday night at Lambeau Field was a little frustrating at times, it showed again how the Packers continue to mine new talent.
Yes, for the second straight week, the Packers’ offense lost its top receiver to injury in the first series, but this time the injury appears not significant. Randall Cobb went down, but initial fears and false reports of a season ending-injury proved unfounded. And a collective sigh of relief echoes from Packers Nation.
Initially, Cobb and the Packers feared a broken collarbone. But after the game both suggested it was a “bruised shoulder” and that Cobb would be listed as “day-to-day.”
If that’s the case the Packers sidestepped what would’ve been a very unfortunate injury in the wake of Jordy Nelson’s season-ender suffered the week before.
“We thought it could’ve been a collarbone or something … it’s not,” Cobb said. “So, fortunately enough, there’s a silver lining in it.”
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy needs to keep his focus on improving the special teams’ units, those having much room for improvement, but he also has to figure out how to maintain the offense’s potency without Nelson for the season, and perhaps Cobb for a game or two.
Defensively, the Packers seem to not yet have the football car in first gear. It’s hard to get excited about pre-season games, but a little better effort would have been nice. Here’s predicting that the talent-ladened “D” will show a lot more against the Bears in the season opener a few weeks from now.
With Clay Matthews, Mike Daniels and the rest of the No. 1 unit shaking off the rust, the D struggled. The allure of Bears on the menu should remedy that, however.
Clearly, the Eagles are going to be pesky in the NFC, but the Pack still is amongst the favorites to reach the Super Bowl, regardless of Saturday night. And let’s not forget, the Packers destroyed the potent Eagles last season, when things mattered.
One sports book has the Packers second in terms of a team’s percent chance to make the postseason.
The Colts have an 87% chance to make the playoffs, followed by Green Bay (83%), Seattle (81%), Denver (74%) and New England (65%).
And here’s the silver lining to Saturday’s contest: With Scott Tolzien missing practice due to injury, rookie Brett Hundley started and played extremely well. He completed 22 of 31 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie from UCLA has progressed greatly, as he appeared considerably more comfortable against the Eagles than he did during the early days of training camp.
Hundley’s performance at least partially opens the door to the possibility of keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. The Packers must be down to 75 players by tomorrow, and then 53 one day after their Thursday night preseason finale at home against the Saints.
And it is likely that Packers’ fans will get to see plenty of Tolzien and Hundley in the preseason finale. Tolzien could allay any concerns about the backup quarterback position, although he’s may already have done that. And Hundley looks to have a bright future.
With both Nelson and Cobb out and a rookie QB at the helm, the young receivers stepped up. And now it seems that both Myles White (9 catches versus the Eagles) and Jeff Janis may stake claims to a roster spot.
In the running game, Raijon Neal played big. He appears to all but have locked up the No. 3 job behind Eddy Lacy and James Starks.
The Packers between now and the September 13 opener at Chicago need to:
- Determine the 53-man roster;
- Decide whether to keep two or three quarterbacks on the active roster. Hundley’s performance just made it a bit riskier to believe no team would sign him off your practice squad.
- Find a way to motivate their defense to get it up to speed out of the gate. The Packers will see three top-tier NFL backs in the first three weeks: Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles.
Let’s Go Green Bay.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’s MVP Parties the evening before home games.