Yesterday, Packers 101 went over three things that Green Bay Packers fans learned from Saturday's 19-7 preseason win over the St. Louis Rams. Beginning where Part One left off, here are four more things that fans of the Pack can take from the second preseason game going into the regular season.
4. The Jolly of Old
Johnny Jolly showed flashes of his 2009 for on Saturday night against the Rams, and he is making a strong push to make the 53-man roster. The 30-year-old still needs to work on his conditioning and needs to get his weight down (listed at 325 but looks to be pushing 340+), but he is the same Jolly Packers fans fell in love with back during his playing days. Jolly was an active force throughout Saturday night, and displayed his knack for getting his hands in the air (ten passes defended in 2009) and being around the ball. Jolly accounted for two tackles, but also totaled two pass deflections and an interception. The first deflection led to a Jarret Bush interception, and later in the third quarter Jolly picked off a Kellen Clemens' deflected by Loyce Means at the goal lin. If Jolly continues to work on his conditioning and display flashes of his old self the Packers will have a hard time letting him go. So far Jolly is off to an excellent start and the comeback story continues on for another week.
5. Micah Hyde can ball
The rich keep getting richer. Going into the 2013 season no one would have guessed the Packers needed an upgrade at cornerback. Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Sam Shields, Davon Hosue and Jarrett Bush all are returning, and the Packers CB group is regarded as one of the best in the NFL. Therefore it was a surprise when the Packers selected CB Micah Hyde out of Iowa in the fifth round.
It looks like Ted Thompson has found yet another steal.
Hyde's demeanor and play is eerily similar to second-year ball hawk Hayward. Hyde may not have top-end speed, but the guy is a football player who makes plays and he is all over the field. He wasn't perfect on Saturday night, but he did display the short memory a top-end corner needs at the NFL level.
On the Rams' second drive, Sam Bradford connected with Chris Givens on a 57-yard bomb against Hyde. Givens is a dynamic receiver with top-end speed, and Hyde was given a tough task trying to stay with him man-to-man. Hyde went on to rebound from the deep pass and showed why the Packers regard him so highly. Hyde totaled five solo tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and two pass deflections. On the Rams first drive, Hyde came up in run support and tackled Isaiah Pead for a six yard loss. On the last play of the third quarter, Hyde sacked Kellen Clemens for an eight yard loss.
Hyde also got a chance to return a punt, bringing it back 13 yards and making him the top punt returner on the night for Green Bay. Hyde looked comfortable fielding the punt, and he looks like a natural with the ball in his hands. Mike McCarthy is hoping to replace Randall Cobb with a new returner on the return units, and Hyde may get a second look with his impressive return on Saturday.
Hyde looks like the real deal, and his play of late is helping him earn a spot in the corner rotation and as a returner.
6. This could be Jermichael Finely's year
In the Packer's 2009 45-41 playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the NFL world thought they saw a star blossom in Jermichael Finely. In the 2009 playoff game Finely dominated the Cardinals defense by bringing in six receptions for 159 yards. The tight end was supposed to become one of the best in the league, and be the face of the Packers passing attack.
Unfortunately this has not been the path J-Mike has taken after that dominant 2009 playoff game. In 2010 Finely got off to a hot start and had two 100+ yard games in two of the first four games. In week five against the Washington Redskins Finely suffered a right knee injury that ended his season prematurely. In 2011 Finely emerged as a legitimate threat on the Packers offense, totaling 55 receptions, 767 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2012, Finely's play dropped and he was not as big a feature in the Packers offense, totaling 61 receptions 667 yards and two touchdowns. Even though these are reasonable numbers for a NFL TE, Finely has not lived up to expectations. He has struggled with his consistency, and even though coaches claim he has some of the best hands on the Packers roster, he has battled with catching the football.
Packers fans everywhere are hoping Finely breaks out in 2013, and Saturday night may be a small sample of what to expect from Finely this season. Granted the Packers offense was without Randal Cobb and Jordy Nelson, but Finely was targeted early and often against the Rams. Finely was unstoppable, bringing in four catches for 78 yards, and the Rams could not find an answer for the athletic TE.
If Finely can emerge for Aaron Rodgers and the Pack, the losses of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver could go unnoticed. Finely is in the last year of his deal and he will be looking to prove that he deserves the $8.75 million the Pack are paying him. For one more season fans throughout Packer nation will be holding their breath wondering if this is the year for Finely.
7. Battle for third OLB spot?
Packers fans should start taking notice of undrafted free agent Andy Mulumba. The Congo native who played his college ball at Eastern Michigan has been turning heads and may be pushing second-year outside linebacker Dezman Moses for playing time and possibly even a roster spot.
Moses made the team last year as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane who transitioned from defensive end to OLB. He was very impressive his rookie year, totaling 27 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble. So far this off-season Mulumba has out performed Moses though, and the battle for the third OLB is getting heated. On Saturday night Moses only had two tackles, and he missed an open field tackle on a swing pass to Isaiah Pead that resulted in a ten yard gain. Mulumba was much more active, totaling three tackles, a sack and two quarterback pressures.
This off-season Dom Capers has expressed his desire for the Packers to draft and develop bigger OLBs and Mulumba fits the description. At 6-3 260, Mulumba outweighs Moses by 11 pounds (249) and is stronger at the point of attack and against the run game. He has long arms and above-average athleticism for the position, and he looks to be a natural pass rusher off the edge.
Right now the safe bet is that both Moses and Mulumba make the 53-man roster. Both offer the athleticism and motor to excel on special teams and be specialist players at OLB. Between the two Mulumba is developing into the better prospect with higher upside, and he is earning the right to be in the mix at OLB.
Gearing up for the fantasy season? Try weekly fantasy football games this year at DraftDay.com. DraftDay has awarded over $15 million to fantasy fans like you, so don't miss out on the newest way to play fantasy football! Create your free account and use promo code GIFT for an instant cash bonus.
- Take Away from Green Bay Packers’ Preseason Victory Over St. Louis Rams: Part One
- Green Bay Packers Off to a Rough Start After Preseason Opener Shutout
- Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals Preseason Game Guide
- Matthews, Perry Lead Green Bay Packers Outside Linebacker Group
- Green Bay Packers Rookie Watch, Part VI: Micah Hyde
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/zaq