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Green Bay Packers Preseason Game #3: A Mixed Bag of Emotions

Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb goes up for a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday, August 29.

After getting trounced by the Philadelphia Eagles 39-26 in preseason game #3 the Green Bay Packers walked back to the locker room icing their injuries and counting their blessings.

Packer Nation walked away from the game not knowing what to think, given the Green Bay Packers recent rash of injuries, coupled with inconsistencies and sloppy play, especially by the 1st team defense and special teams.

For example, Packers fans were full of beans at the start of the game, but their bliss subsided as they watched the Eagles march down the field and score a TD with relative ease on the very first drive.

In another example, Packers fans clapped with joy when Rajon Neal had a nice kick return and a second later were hissing naughty words when it was called back on a Chris Banjo penalty.

The Eagles and their hurry up no-huddle offense looked like it drank Reliant Recovery Water before the game, while Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and the Green Bay Packers 1st team defense played like they were sucking water from a garden hose coming straight out of the Fox River.

The Packers “D” was torched by Eagles starting quarterback Sam Bradford. He was 10 for 10 in passing attempts because he had all day in the pocket, and not once had to test his surgically repaired knee—leaving Packers fans wondering if applying pressure on the quarterback is going to be an issue again this season.

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7 Players Making Packers’ Roster Cut Downs Difficult

Chris Banjo Training Camp

With the third preseason game in the books, the Packers are now faced with the almost Herculean task of trimming down a relatively deep and talented roster to 75, and ultimately to just the final 53.  While it is easy to predict where most players will fall, each year there are a handful who will make the decision difficult.  Below are seven players who are likely making Ted Thompson’s job a little more strenuous this week.  This does not mean that each of the players below is on the bubble, but that each poses a unique decision for the team in the face of cut downs and practice squad signings.

Rajion Neal

Neal has been the best player among the trio of young backs given a chance to play behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks.  He has good acceleration and catches the ball out of the backfield very well.  The issue at the position, however, is that the team will likely keep both rookie Aaron Ripkowski and veteran John Kuhn as backs.  That means that Neal would find himself as the 5th back on the roster.  While the team certainly does not want to find itself in a position where it must rely upon Kuhn or Ripkowski to run the ball, they could be used in such a capacity in a pinch.  It might just not seem necessary to keep 5 backs on the roster when there are so many other difficult cuts to make.  That being said, I wouldn’t expect Neal to get cut altogether.  I see no reason why the team would not send him back to the practice squad (where he spent 8 games last year), calling on him if Lacy or Starks need to miss any time.

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5 Traits That Locked Roster Spots

Brett Hundley & Ty Montgomery

With the season fast approaching, some of the Packers players who started on the roster bubble have cemented themselves as a part of the long term future of the team. Each of these men have demonstrated flashes of at least one dominating trait that has gotten them a shot to play on a team like this.

With the cut day tomorrow, and the cut down to 53 not long after, let’s take a look at five players who have solidified spot based on some portion of dominance on the field.

Mike Pennel – Hands and Strength

Pennel was a surprise last season as an undrafted rookie who made the roster as a backup tackle and got playing time in goal line situations. Seen as a guy who had to fight this season with the return of Khyri Thornton as well as the draft of Christian Ringo, Pennel needed to impress in camp to make the team. And not only has he impressed but shined, especially in preseason games, consistently getting into the backfield due to his prodigious strength and his improved hand placement.

Signature Play: Against Philadelphia, during a two point conversion attempt, Pennel performed a perfect swim move at the line and got into the backfield to stop Tim Tebow on a quarterback draw.

Jeff Janis – Big Play Ability

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Packers Escape Huge Scare With Randall Cobb

randall-cobb-2-121210-blog

According to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, the Green Bay Packers believe wide receiver Randall Cobb has a good chance to play in the Week 1 opener at Chicago after tests confirmed a sprained shoulder. This likely means Cobb only suffered the Grade 1 sprain of the AC joint, although it’s unlikely that the Packers will ever reveal such detailed injury information.

Cobb initially feared that he had broken his collarbone after he laded on the shoulder after attempting to catch a pass along the sideline on the third play from scrimmage. Eagles cornerback Eric Rowe landed on Cobb’s shoulder as well, which also gave reason to worry.

The person who should be breathing the biggest sigh of relief is head coach Mike McCarthy, who irresponsibly had Cobb and Eddie Lacy in the meaningless game to begin with. McCarthy would have gotten ripped to shreds if Cobb had suffered a serious injury and rightfully so.

I’m in the school who hates second guessing head coaches, but this was an easy first guess. With Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines, what was Cobb possibly going to gain playing with Brett Hundley? How is that gain worth more than the possible risk? The same goes for Lacy. What was he to gain running behind a line minus three starters against perhaps the best front three in the NFL? Predictably, Lacy had no chance in the run game and took unnecessary hits. The Vikings have it right by never playing Adrian Peterson in the preseason, and he turns out alright every regular season. Lacy takes and gives out enough punishment in the regular season.

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Injury Bug Hits Packers Again, Eagles Beat Green Bay 39-26

Packers Receiver Randall Cobb

The Green Bay Packers lost Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga and Micah Hyde to injuries and the Philadelphia Eagles used a precise passing attack led by Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez to hand the Packers their second straight preseason loss.

Green Bay was unable to slow the Eagles’ fast-paced and highly efficient offense, especially early in the game. Philadelphia jumped out to a 25-0 lead before the first quarter had even ended, and led the Packers 39-14 at halftime.

Quarterbacks Brett Hundley and Matt Blanchard led the Packers offense, which was effective for most of the night. After throwing a pick-six on Green Bay’s second drive, Hundley rebounded to complete 22/31 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns. His performance likely guaranteed him a roster spot as the team’s third string quarterback.

The Packers saw their record in the preseason drop to 1-2, and once again had to deal with a slew of injuries. After losing Jordy Nelson for the season in last week’s loss to the Steelers, Green Bay watched as three of its starters left the game in the first half due to injuries of their own.

Cobb suffered a shoulder injury that is not believed to be serious, Bulaga had an ankle injury, and Hyde injured his neck. The severity for each injury has yet to be determined, but it appears that the Packers may have dodged a bullet this time.

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Looking Back at Green Bay Packers #40 Eddie Lee Ivery

Green Bay Packers Eddie Lee Ivery tackled by Chicago Bears Mike Singletary and Gary Fencik in 1985.

Last Sunday, when Jordy Nelson landed awkwardly on the turf at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh during a preseason game, Green Bay Packers fans were heartrendingly reminded that season ending knee injuries are a part of football. Later that day I was reminded of another Green Bay Packers player who sustained not one, but two knee injuries. His name? Eddie Lee Ivery.

Former Green Bay Packers running back #40 Eddie Lee Ivery “thought his legs were weapons.”  His running style was compared to Chuck Foreman of the Minnesota Vikings and Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears.

Ivery played college football at the Georgia Institute of Technology from 1975-’78. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Football Hall of Fame in 1983 after accumulating 3,517 rushing yards; 3rd most in Yellow Jackets history. In a snow socked game against Air Force, Ivery rushed for 356 yards.

A feat, which I’m sure, impressed the Packers when they decided to select the Heisman Trophy nominee 15th overall in the 1st round of the 1979 NFL Draft. After this pick, Packers fans seemed upbeat, given Ivery’s tremendous college career.

However, in his first NFL season game (1979), after just a mere 3 carries, Eddie Lee Ivery tore up his left knee in the season opener against the Bears at Chicago. Many Green Bay fans who watched the game recall the play, because expectations for the young speedster with great athletic cuts and moves were so high. What seemed like a promising NFL start was now going to have to wait for a year.

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Predicting the First Wave of Packer Cuts

Alonzo Harris

As we get closer to the end of camp, that means that, unfortunately, “The Turk” will come calling for players. And when he tells them that coach wants to see them, they know that their time is up. For the Packers it is no different, except that this year the cuts are much more difficult.

The first cut down needs to take place by Tuesday, and the roster has to be down to 75. Currently the Packers sit at 88. This first wave of cuts will be extremely tense and a lot of players are facing the block, but only twelve need to go after Jordy Nelson is placed on Injured Reserve. With Saturday’s game still to come, here is my early projection for who will be cut from the Green Bay Packers.

WR Ed Williams #5

While replacing Nelson is a task that is needed now, Williams has not been able to separate himself enough to gain a roster spot over guys like Larry Pinkard or Myles White. Plus at age 24, he is old for a rookie and the team doesn’t have time to wait for him to develop over guys like the aforementioned or Ty Montgomery.

WR Javess Blue #10

Blue hasn’t practiced or played in either game so far and his injury has put him behind the eight-ball. Unlike a guy like Jared Abbrederis who appears to be getting closer to health, we haven’t heard anything on Blue which makes him a great candidate for either a trip to IR or an injury settlement.

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