Two-hundred and fifteen days. That’s how long it had been since the Packers played a football game. But, on Friday, August 11th (the Green Bay Packers’ 104th birthday), the Packers played an actual football game. It was just preseason, but it was still a fun one. The Packers won the contest 36-19. However, the final score is not what matters in preseason football. What matters is how the players performed. These are my top five insights from week one of the preseason.
Number 5: Jordan Love
Jordan Love’s performance on Friday night was what every fan was looking forward to the most. How would he look in live football? That’s what was on everybody’s mind. So, how did he do? Well, Love completed seven out of ten in the two possessions that he was given, for 46 yards and one touchdown.
Top Five – Love’s Misses
Love had plenty of time in the pocket and made great decisions. He missed two deep throws in his first possession. Love’s first miss was to Christian Watson, might have been slightly under thrown, and was batted down by Daxton Hill. Hill made an exceptional play on the ball, and if he hadn’t got there in time it would have been a touchdown Love to Watson. Love also missed a wide open Luke Musgrave that would have gone for a huge gain.
Other than those two throws, Love performed very well. He ended his night beautifully with a lofted ball that dropped right into the bucket for a touchdown to Romeo Doubs. Needless to say, Love impressed.
Number 4: Luke Musgrave
From practice to this preseason game, it is easy to tell that Musgrave is going to be more than just your typical tight end. Luke Musgrave is going to be used all over the field and it showed against the Bengals. Musgrave was in the traditional position as a tight end; however, he was also in wide receiver positions as well. On a couple of different occasions, Musgrave, out wide, ran a simple nine route and beat the corner with his pure speed.
When watching Musgrave this season look for screens, deep routes, middle of the field routes, and more. Coach LaFleur’s imagination is the limit with Musgrave.
Number 3: Anders Carlson
Top Five: Bad News
Bad news first. Anders Carlson, the Packers rookie kicker, has been inconsistent in camp so far and that inconsistency reared its ugly head again. Anders Carlson missed two straight extra points in the second half of the game and they weren’t particularly close either. The question is this: are the misses solely on Carlson or is it on the entire process itself? Only time will tell, which leads me to the good news.
Top Five: Good News
The good news is this: Carlson’s early training camp inconsistencies have been getting better. Ever since Family Night, Carlson has been way more consistent. This is even true for the first half of the Bengals preseason game. Carlson made three extra-points and nailed a 45-yard field goal right down the middle. Carlson is still young and can grow from these misses. Coach LaFleur said it best: “It’s one game, but as long as you learn from it, get better, make the necessary adjustments, then a lot of times you come back stronger from it.”
Number 2: Jayden Reed
Jayden Reed had a great night. A lot like Luke Musgrave, Reed will be utilized all over the field. The Packers had Reed running end-arounds, slants, working in the middle of the field, and running deep routes. Reed looks like he is not only ready to take the slot receiver position but also play in a playmaker type position.
Reed had two catches for twenty yards and about had a touchdown if it wasn’t for a pass interference. In one of his catches, Reed leapt over a defender and caught a high ball for a first down. I would call it a “Moss” type catch. Jayden Reed will definitely contribute to this Green Bay offense this season.
Number 1: Carrington Valentine
Valentine might have been drafted in the seventh round but he has been playing like a first rounder. Against the Bengals, Valentine was all over the field and was aggressive all game. He had multiple pass-breakups and had an interception. It really did seem like he was in on every play until the Packers finally pulled him from the game.
Andy Herman of the Pack-A-Day podcast hailed him as the best overall defender for Green Bay with a +1.05. Carrington Valentine is gonna be really, really good. If you don’t take my word or Andy Herman’s word for it, then take Coach LaFleur’s: “I think he’s got the skill set you look for… He competes, he’s not afraid… He’s extremely coachable… He shows up in practice and makes plays. Really excited about what he can turn into.”
Valentine’s final stat-line was the following: targeted six time, allowed two receptions for just sixteen yards, credited with two pass-breakups, and interception.
Valentine can play.
When I was in school, I would compete in the science fair. A couple of times I received first place. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy with first place. But for some reason there was a place better than first place: the grand prize. I never understood it then but now I kinda do. Emmanuel Wilson is deserving of a grand prize.
An undrafted rookie runningback, Wilson’s performance goes beyond anything that I could rank in a single article. Emmanuel Wilson’s first game as a pro took place on Friday, and it just so happened to be the fourteen-year anniversary of his father’s passing. He wanted to do as much as possible to honor his dad. Wilson did just that. Wilson was explosive in the game and even broke an 80-yard touchdown run. He ended the game with six rush attempts for a total of 111 yards and two touchdowns.
He put himself in great position to earn that third running back spot and he honored his dad. Wilson has heart. No one can measure heart in the draft process, but is definitely something great NFL players need for success.
This Packers team is young, but they are very talented. They showed it on Friday night. I’m excited to see how much they can grow. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a preseason game as much as I did on Friday night. I’m excited to see what these guys can do against the Patriots on Saturday.——————
Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.