It was more than likely the final tune up for the Green Bay Packers’ starters and they didn’t disappoint in Green Bay’s 31-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders Friday night.
The starting offense came out with a blistering opening drive featuring a brisk pace and no-huddle formations. The result was a one yard Eddie Lacy touchdown and that was it for last season’s offensive rookie of the year.
The starting defense initially was shredded for a long touchdown as the Raiders tied the game up 7-7 but they clamped down after that and forced several three and outs for Oakland’s defense.
The rest of the game was a typical preseason game, meaning a lot of action for second and third-string players and some pretty poor quality football.
Here are some highlights and some lowlights from Friday’s game in 2014 debut of Game Balls and Lame Calls.
QB Aaron Rodgers
Talk about starting a game off on the right foot. Rodgers displayed a ludicrous level of command of the Packers’ offensive on the opening drive with a fast paced, no-huddle attack. The Raiders didn’t have a prayer.
Rodgers finished with a 45% completion percentage but don’t let that fool you. The man was on fire though he wasn’t helped much by his receivers and his offensive line (more on that later).
RB Eddie Lacy
Everyone saw last year how crucial having Rodgers is to the offense’s success but if the game against Oakland showed anything, it’s that Lacy is becoming almost as important.
After six carries for 36 yards and one touchdown, Lacy was done for the evening and the drives immediately following his departure showed what he does for the Green Bay offense. The unit struggled without him on the field and it showed in how the Raiders attacked the offense.
Lacy had better stay healthy all season if this is any indication.
S Sean Richardson
All the talk when it comes to the Packers and their safeties has been on rookie HaHa Clinton-Dix but Richardson made sure the coaches and fans didn’t forget about him Friday night.
Richardson forced a fumble and continued to impress with his physical style of play. The Packers were high on him last season but missed most of the year with a neck injury. Richardson seems to be making up for lost time as he continues his strong camp and preseason.
LB Jayrone Elliott
It’s still pretty early but there is a good possibility general manager Ted Thompson may have found yet another diamond in the rough in the undrafted rookie Elliott.
One week after getting three sacks in four plays against the St. Louis Rams, Elliott got another sack against the Raiders. He’s all but a lock now to make the 53-man roster and could be a real asset in blitzing sub packages the Packers undoubtedly will employ throughout the season.
He’s wearing Justin Harrell’s number 91 but he’s proving to be everything Harrell wasn’t.
TE Richard Rodgers
The younger Rodgers impressed early in training camp by catching everything Aaron Rodgers threw his way but questions remained about his ability in pass protection.
Those questions proved to be well founded as Rodgers missed several blocks that led to quarterback Rodgers either being sacked or running for his life. It’s an area he has got to work on if he is going to prove to be the long term answer at tight end.
The starting offensive line
Rodgers wasn’t the only player guilty of poor blocking Friday night. The entire offensive line seemed shaky after the scintillating opening drive.
With depth a major concern along the line, the starters can ill afford mistakes like they made against the Raiders. The potential is there but missed blocks and stupid penalties won’t cut it in the regular season. This still could be the best line the Packers have had in a long time, but the line needs to focus on continuous improving instead of reading press clippings about how great they are.
This is not necessarily a condemnation of what the Packers did but rather what is going to seem like an ongoing issue around the entire league.
Penalties have skyrocketed this preseason. The league seems intent on cracking down on on-field issues and it’s leaving very little wiggle room for players. This is one reason why the preseason still exists, to work out issues like this with rules changes and the such.
Will it help as the regular season approaches? Time will tell, but as of right now it looks like a lot of yellow flags will be hitting that green turf come September.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke