As predicted, the Packers were able to overcome the Rams on Thursday night as Brett Hundley led the Packers to a 3-1 preseason record, highlighted by an impressive touchdown scramble in the first quarter.
Taysom Hill ensured he will be on an NFL roster, if not necessarily the Packers’, by going 4-for-4 for 31 yards and a touchdown, adding 19 yards on two carries. Hill could be considered the breakout star of the preseason, similar to Joe Callahan’s 2016 preseason performance. The only concern with Hill may be his two preseason fumbles, though none were lost. Callahan also fumbled twice this preseason.
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The running back battle, thought to be a lock with Ty Montgomery as the starter and Jamaal Williams as the second option, got more intense with Aaron Jones’ performance Thursday night. Jones ran eight times for 48 yards, including a 24-yard burst, and added a one-yard touchdown reception.
Coach McCarthy has committed the Packers to running the football in 2017, Montgomery, Williams, Jones, and fullback Aaron Ripkowski should provide a sturdy quartet behind Aaron Rodgers. Seventh round draft pick Devante Mays may be the odd man out, possibly making the practice squad.
The stacked platoon of receivers will create some tough decisions. Geronimo Allison will be suspended at the start of the season, this may lead to a parting of the ways as younger draft picks like Malachi Dupre and DeAngelo Yancey showed flashes of excellence.
Max McCaffrey surely will catch on somewhere, if not on the Packers’ practice squad. His eight preseason receptions for 85 yards, coupled with four punt returns for 32 yards, make him an attraction for the many teams that lack Green Bay’s depth.
Fan favorite Jeff Janis may make the team for his value on special teams, despite his dropped passes. Janis returned six kickoffs for a total of 129 yards this preseason, adding five catches for 92 yards.
The linebacker spots became more competitive with the signing of 49ers’ castoff Ahmad Brooks. Shoring up the outside linebacker position creates one less spot at inside linebacker, a returning player like Jake Ryan or Blake Martinez may be cut to save money and roster space.
LaDarius Gunter stepped up in the final game, with a well-timed sack and an interception. With the battle for roster spots focused on improving the defense, Gunter’s performance may have saved him from the upcoming cuts.
Cornerback Donatello Brown may have locked up a spot with his 22-yard interception return and team-high six solo tackles, tied with safety Kentrell Brice. Josh Hawkins looks to be a lock to make the roster with his 13 tackles, Lenzy Pipkins remains an interesting prospect, the big hitter from Oklahoma State is expected to make the practice squad.
The roster cutdowns often include a surprise by General Manager Ted Thompson as witnessed by the departure of Pro Bowl left tackle Josh Sitton in 2016. Thompson doesn’t hesitate to cut overpaid players; veterans like Randall Cobb or Clay Matthews could get the Thompson axe.
Many players will avoid their phones this weekend, dreading the call. Some will come back to haunt the Packers wearing the opponent’s jerseys, others may return later in the season to replace injured players.
The 2017 season is about to begin. Buckle up; with games against the Seahawks and Falcons looming, this season will get interesting right out of the gate.