This article covers the 2010 preseason game of the Green Bay Packers versus the Indianapolis Colts. This article's purpose is to provide an in-depth look at the progress of the younger players whom develop their talents and try to secure a roster spot for the regular season.
This preseason game felt much more than a dress rehearsal, mostly because both first teams played the entire first half.
It was business as usual for Aaron Rodgers, who marched down the field on multiple possessions to put up three offensive touchdowns before the end of the half without Greg Jennings. It was disappointing that a few terrible pass interference calls helped advance the ball down field. Rodgers' most impressive drive was moving the ball from the Green Bay 23 yard line to the end zone with only 93 seconds left in the second quarter.
The offensive line didn't give Rodgers the greatest protection, but his quick delivery was able to avoid the pass rush.
The most concerning problem about the offensive line was a failed quarterback sneak on a 4th & 1. The Colts' defensive line dominated the blockers, which is quite sad because the Colts' interior defensive linemen consist of smaller, more agile players instead of typical large run stuffers.
After two pedestrian games by Ryan Grant, the starting running back looked much better despite a recovered fumble. Grant only had eight carries but looked fresh and showed good burst, averaging 4.5 yards a carry, with help of solid blocking by Quinn Johnson.
Brandon Jackson came into the game in the second quarter and didn't do much with running the ball. Jackson also lost a fumble inside the Indianapolis five yard line.
After the first half, Matt Flynn was able to lead the offense to two touchdown drives connecting to John Kuhn and Andrew Quarless. Flynn continued to show good command of the huddle with a few solid third down conversions.
Running back Kregg Lumpkin entered halfway into the third quarter and ran pretty well in addition to scoring a one yard touchdown run and catching a pass for 22 yards.
Graham Harrell played out the last twelve minutes of the fourth quarter and wasn't afraid to throw down field. Harrell had a nice bootleg play and was able to convert on multiple third downs. Harrell will be placed on the practice squad but it will not be surprising if a team tries to sign him as their third string quarterback.
Peyton Manning was able to find soft spots in the defense early, but the defense was able to to hold Manning's offense to only 17 points over two and a half quarters. Against Manning, the defense was able to force two three-and-out possessions and two turnovers.
The first Indianapolis possession was a disaster for the defense. It only took two plays to score which consisted of a 49 yard run Joseph Addai and a 18 yard Peyton Manning touchdown pass. The long run had very poor tackling by Nick Collins and Morgan Burnett. The touchdown pass looked to have caught Nick Collins offguard. Collins looked to be communicating with his teammates and didn't anticipate the early snap.
Nick Collins and Morgan Burnett put their early mistakes behind them and never looked back. Burnett had an excellent breakup on a long Manning throw that would have been a sure touchdown. Late in the third quarter, Burnett had an excellent read where he jumped a route for a Manning interception. Collins also had a few great pass breakups, including one on a third and fifteen where the first team offense settled for a field goal.
As I mentioned last week, Frank Zombo and Sam Shields are two undrafted free agents that have a decent chance at making the 53 man roster. With them playing well on third team defense the last two games, both players were promoted to the first team defense.
Frank Zombo led the team in tackles with nine (five solo) and possibly had the best play of the night (also the picture of the article): sacking Peyton Manning from behind and forcing a fumble that was returned to the Indianapolis two yard line by Robert Francois.
Sam Shields played as a nickel/dime back with the first team defense and looked a bit rough in the beginning, allowing a receiver to get behind him for a catch. He didn't look as bad as the other nickel backs Pat Lee and Jarrett Bush, whom missed a few tackles.
Shields also had a highly athletic interception late in the fourth quarter to end the game.
Mark my words: Frank Zombo and Sam Shields will make the final 53 man roster.
Special teams coverage looked much better from the last two games (which doesn't say much). Even though they allowed a return of 58 yards, the other eight returns were kept to a minimum.
Will Blackmon dropped a punt return while Jason Chery had a 75 yard punt return for a touchdown. If Chery can prove that the return wasn't a fluke, he could push Blackmon out of a roster spot.
On kickoff returns, Jordy Nelson had two solid returns that included a return of 31 yards. I think that Nelson or Brandon Jackson should be returning kickoffs for the regular season.
Even though 59 points were scored, only one field goal was attempted. Mason Crosby was 1/1 on a 28 yard field goal.
There were only three punts but I believe Tim Matshay will be the starting punter when the regular season starts. Matshay's only punt, a booming 53 yard kick, led to a recovered muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown by Korey Hall. Chris Bryan punted twice but had a terrible 38 yard punt with poor hang time.
Stay tuned for the next article on the 2010 preseason game of the Green Bay Packers versus the Kansas City Chiefs.