The 2019 Green Bay Packers were on display for the first time in last week’s preseason win against the Houston Texans. Joint practices that week turned hostile, but Matt LaFleur’s group persevered. Despite some imperfections, especially third-down tackling and abundant penalties, viewers experienced an aggressive defense capable of creating turnovers and a more creative offense.
While many tuned in to see first-round pick Rashan Gary in action, some of the brightest stars of this exhibition game were from Day 3 of this year’s draft. We’ve heard all summer how players like Ka’Dar Hollman and Ty Summers have impressed in training camp, and now we have proof against actual NFL opponents. Sure, it’s against Joe Webb and other players deep on the depth chart, but the early returns on these young players are impressive.
Against a weak Texans offensive line, fifth-round pick Kingsley Keke was flashed, credited with one tackle and a half-sack. His burst and disruption were particularly on display when he helped cause Webb’s interception to Ka’Dar Hollman. Keke is still raw, but his talent was on display last week. If he can polish his technique, he can be a true monster in the interior. Keke’s development and upside must be one reason the Packers were comfortable releasing Mike Daniels.
Ka’Dar Hollman has been heralded as a training camp star all summer, with coaches praising his work ethic and press-man coverage ability. Hollman was able to show off some ball-hawking ability as well, undercutting Vyncint Smith and copping an interception that looked meant for him. Hollman was able to capitalize off of a bad throw and make a hell of a play. With the Packers’ cornerback group often banged up, Hollman could see extra playing time and looks ready for the challenge. Hollman may have been a steal in the sixth round. It’s always nice to see a Toledo guy succeed, even if Bowling Green is the best university in Ohio.
With Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams dealing with hamstring tightness, sixth-round running back Dexter Williams was able to get valuable playtime with the 1s in training camp. He had himself a nice NFL debut with 14 runs for 62 yards, including a 14-yard run and an 18-yard reception. Williams looked the part of an NFL running back, making smart and aggressive plays and showing off his physical gifts. The run game is paramount for this offense, and Williams has the potential to be a major aspect of it.
While Green Bay is known as a winter team, now they have a very bright summer(s) on the team. Seventh-round linebacker Ty Summers absolutely dominated the first half, flashing comic book-level speed and racking up 10 tackles (nine of which were solo). He faded off in the second half and had his share of missed tackles, but his effort and athleticism were exactly what you’d want to see from a seventh-round pick. While Chris Bolton has filled in as the starter next to Blake Martinez in wake of Oren Burks’ injury, Summers is going to play important snaps.
Interior defensive line, cornerback, running back, and inside linebacker are all positions of attrition, and the promise of these young, late-round picks should please the Green Bay Packers. Should each of these young men continue to show progress, I can’t see a single one being stashed on the practice squad. Their next opportunity is tonight against the Baltimore Ravens.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.