The Arizona Cardinals shutout the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the preseason opener for both teams, 17-0. The Packers struggled on both sides of the football, and Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said he felt the first preseason game could’ve been a lot better.
“It is not exactly where you like to start in preseason game number one”, McCarthy said after Friday’s loss. “On our home field, I don’t think we did a very good job when we had opportunities, but everyone got to play tonight. This is step one”.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he felt last night’s game certainly could’ve been much improved. “The energy wasn’t there”, Rodgers said. “We didn’t have that tonight, and we need to bring a little bit extra next week”.
Rodgers completed three of five passes for 62 yards in limited action for the Packers last night, and helped engineer an 11-play, 81-yard drive early in the first quarter. The Packers reached the Cardinals’ one-yard line, but couldn’t score a touchdown on 4th down and goal from the Arizona two-yard line.
“We have to finish and have to put the ball in the endzone”, Rodgers said. “They (Arizona) did a good job on defense being stout, but we have to get seven on the board there, and we have to find a way to punch it in there”.
Packers backup quarterback Graham Harrell completed 12 of 19 passes for 76 yards, and threw one interception in the game. In the third quarter, the Harrell-led offense couldn’t sustain any kind of drive, and the former Texas Tech gunslinger heard boos from the Lambeau crowd.
“As a whole unit, there are things to improve on”, Harrell said. “We moved the ball at time, but we have to improve”.
“Tonight was probably frustrating for (Harrell)”, Rodgers said. “I think he has had a good camp, but you have to take care of the football in the preseason. Graham (Harrell) knows the offense really well, but it is about finding that rhythm in the offense”.
Harrell’s interception was one of two Packer giveaways, as both turnovers resulted in Arizona touchdowns. “The first thing that jumps out offensively is the turnovers”, McCarthy said. “Our ability to take care of the football is something we stress. We have to take care of the ball and take it away”.
Newly-acquired quarterback Vince Young played in last night’s game, and McCarthy said he felt he could’ve done a better job managing the veteran quarterback. “I didn’t think I did a good job of getting him things he was comfortable with”, McCarthy said. “I thought he did some nice things, and it was good to get him out there”.
Young said he enjoyed his first experience as a Green Bay Packer after the game. “There are a lot of respectful fans out here, and I really appreciate the support”, Young said. “My whole thing was to get the guys out of the huddle and avoid delay of games, and I appreciate the support.”
Coach McCarthy understands the uphill mental climb Young will have to make in less than a month to earn a backup quarterback job in Green Bay. The Packers signed Young to a one-year contract earlier this week, but McCarthy said he likes what Young is all about. “The thing about Vince Young is that the man is a winner,” McCarthy said. “After having the opportunity to sit down and listen to his story, I think he fits well into our room.”
One of very few bright spots for the Packers last night was rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari, who didn’t allow one sack. “It was a good first day”, Bakhtiari said. “I’m happy where I was, but there is definitely room for improvement. This is one half of one preseason game, I still have a lot of work to do, and there is always something more I could do”.
Bakhtiari said he didn’t have any nerves or jitters, but in the end, it is all about the team. “We want to win the game”, Bakhtiari said. “It was a nice smooth transition, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed, but at the end of the day we want to pull out the ‘W’”.
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Tyrone Walker was one of the most productive Packers receivers last night, catching five passes for 41 yards. “He had a productive night”, McCarthy said. “He was an excellent example of that whole young receiver group, and I thought he took a step tonight”.
The Packers will play their next preseason game away from Green Bay against the St. Louis Rams on next Saturday (August 17th). Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 P.M., central-standard time. Check your local listings for television coverage of the game.
Other Game Notes: Rookie defensive end Datone Jones left Friday’s game after suffering a sprained ankle, the lone Packers casualty of the first preseason game, according to McCarthy. Running back Eddie Lacy (hamstring), wide receiver Randall Cobb (biceps), and wide receiver Jordy Nelson (knee) were among 17 Packer players who did not suit up for Friday night’s game. Kickers Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio, who are both battling for the Packers starting kicker job, did not attempt one field goal in last night's game.
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