Tuesday Recap: Stepping Up

Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley

As I sat in the Lambeau Field stands in the 3rd quarter as the rain let up, I started thinking to myself that Sunday’s win was really going to be a complete victory.  The offense started to show an ability to understand how to effectively throw the ball while maintaining balance offensively.  The defense, despite it’s incredibly beat up status, had been shutting down the Browns 2 main offensive weapons, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.  Despite being mostly challenged health-wise with pass rushers, the team was able to generate 3 sacks.  The run defense was again suffocating.  Many players, especially WR Jarret Boykin and ILB Jamari Lattimore stepped up in a huge way.

That all changed when Aaron Rodgers hit Jermichael Finley over the middle and he was struck in the helmet by Tashaun Gipson.  Finley lie motionless on the field until the coaching and training staff came out on to the field and took Finley off on a stretcher.  He was unable to move on the field and has since been diagnosed with a bruised spinal cord, though much worse was feared.  What happened to Finley, and any injury that happens above the shoulders as far as I’m concerned, is beyond football.  Knowing now that Finely’s injury is not going to affect his long term health, it’s fair to state that yet again, the Packers were struck by a “significant” injury to a key contributor.  All I really wanted was a team win with no one getting hurt.  I think at this point that’s what everyone wanted.  I shudder to think who’s going to go down on the Metrodome’s artificial turf, which cost this team Alex Green two years ago and Jerel Worthy last season.

Quote of the Week:

“Jermichael is very, very upbeat, very positive,” “Always has a smile on his face, so I mean he’s focused on what’s most important. That’s his health and his family.” -Mike McCarthy

3 up: 

1.  Jarret Boykin- I had a lot of guys come to me for fantasy football advice on Jarret Boykin.  I told them that I didn’t think that he was going to be valuable.  I told them that Boykin is slow.  His 4.74 40 time at the 2012 NFL Combine does not dispute that notion.  I told them that his routes were going to be slants, crosses, and comebacks and that without him doing anything vertically there wouldn’t be enough volume to be useful.  Boy was I wrong.  Sometimes guys just understand how to play football.  Jarret Boykin is Virginia Tech’s all time leading receiver, and it’s clear that he “gets it”.

2.  Jamari Lattimore- I find Lattimore’s story fascinating.  Jamari Lattimore was a defensive end for Middle Tennessee State University.  The Packers viewed him as a prospect that could make the switch to 3-4 OLB and continue to be an outside rusher.  What I didn’t anticipate was the success that he would have when the team moved he and Brad Jones from the outside linebacker position in to a more run-stopping and coverage based ILB position.  ILBs in a 3-4 end up in space frequently, and for a guy that played defensive line in college, it sure seems like he is comfortable playing ILB.

3.  Mike Daniels- I really, really like this kid.  He might be undersized, but every time that he comes in he gives maximum effort and really seems to be involved in every play.  His sack came at a timely point in the game, because with no Matthews and no Perry, the pass rush was struggling.  With so many of the Packers defensive linemen currently playing on expiring contracts, Mike Daniel’s presence on this team is being felt now, and is going to continue being felt in the future.

3 down: 

1. Jermichael Finley’s injury- I don’t think this is really debatable.  Finley was motionless on the ground and any time the team removes the facemask before moving the player I find it concerning.  Everything that I’ve read coming from Finley and sources around Finley has been positive.  With that said, he is almost certainly out for the Minnesota (a team he owns) game and beyond.

2.  Special teams- Mason Crosby appeared to lose traction on the wet field on his 52 yard attempt that didn’t even get close.  Jake Stoneburner committed a roughing the kicker penalty in his first NFL game.  Travis Benjamin was allowed a very long return that started 8 yards deep in his own end zone and I recall one truly awful Tim Masthay punt that was saved by a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.  The unit as a whole was sloppy, and should look to improve against a Minnesota team that has a special teams unit that is clearly it’s best part of the team.

3.  Don Barclay- Barclay received the lowest grade on the Packers offense, which was his second poor effort in a row.  He’s been very shaky in pass protection, and at some point it is going to be pushed by either Marshall Newhouse, or even Derek Sherrod when they activate him.  I really think he has the potential to be a viable starting RT in the NFL, but right now he is not getting it done.

Bottom Line: 

This was the most complete victory, all things considered, that the Packers have put together this season.  The running game was effective against a good defense, as was the pass.  The defense was borderline dominant.  Special teams was a struggle, but this game was never in doubt against a 3-3 team that very much still has playoff aspirations playing in the disaster that is the AFC North.  The next team on the schedule is either the second weakest (Steelers) or weakest (they did just lose Harrison Smith) team in the league and it should be a good week to sharpen up and get ready for the bears the following week on Monday Night Football.

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Ross Uglem is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Ross on twitter at RossUglem

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