Good Vibrations

Packers beat Chiefs to wrap Preseason

It was a pretty spirited effort from players, the vast majority of which will likely never set foot onto Lambeau Field again.

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 before 73,803 in the 59th annual Bishop's Charities Game Thursday night.

Rookie Head Coach Matt LaFleur goes 2-2 in his first run of exhibition games.  Considering he sat 44 players (two remain inactive on the PUP list),  all are at least safe bets to make the final roster, that left 9 jobs available for the 45 players that did suit up, including free agent guard Dejon Allen who just showed up in town hours before the game and got in a couple of snaps.    The fight for a livelihood brought out some worthy performances.

Draft picks scored three of the four touchdowns.   7th rounder Ty Summers gathered in a floating ball from Kansas City quarterback Kyle Shurmur who got drilled by a blitzing Markus Jones, and sprinted 74 yards with the interception for the first Green Bay score.     Jace Sternberger, the round three tight end who missed most of camp with a concussion, made his pre-season debut and caught a two yard TD from Tim Boyle two minutes later.  6th round running back Dexter Williams scored the game winning touchdown from three yards out in the 4th quarter.

For much of the game however, the best Packer offensive plays were Kansas City defensive penalties.  They were flagged 14 times in all for 137 yards.   Sternberger's touchdown capped a short, 26 yard drive after Jones recovered a botched handoff.    The offense gained only three yards by themselves, the rest came on defensive flags.

With Aaron Rodgers completing a snap free pre-season on the sidelines, Tim Boyle made his second consecutive start in his bid to become the second stringer.  He completed just 3 of 6 passes for 18 yards with one score, his NFL leading 6th touchdown pass in August.    DeShone Kizer worked the middle of the game and he went 8 of 15 for 77 yards, a one yard touchdown to backup tight end Evan Baylis, but he also had another ill advised interception, missing J'Mon Moore badly in the right flat.  Jordan Lucas picked it off and returned it 10 yards to the Green Bay 7, setting up a Kansas City touchdown.    4th stringer Manny Wilkins finished up with joyful abandon.   He engineered the game winning 73 yard drive in the 4th quarter, converting a third and 7 with a 21 yard screen pass to Williams.   Inside the red zone, Wilkins broke out of the pocket and executed an amazing high hurdle over defensive back Mark Fields for a 12 yard run.   Boyle had more impressive game stats than Kizer this month but that important decision is still too close to call.

Same for the kicking job.    Mason Crosby pulled his first point after wide left but knocked through his second.   Sam Ficken converted both of his tries.  Ficken didn't miss in game action but did struggle a couple of times on the practice field.  Will the Packers go with the comfortable, and more expensive all-time franchise scoring leader, or start anew with Ficken, eight years the junior to Crosby?   Stay tuned.

You've got to hand it to several young players who flashed to impress the Packer brass or other NFL scouts that they are worthy professionals.    Linebacker James Folston, who joined the team less than a week ago, came up with a sack.  Teo Redding, a first year free agent who was last in line among the wide receivers all throughout camp, led the offense with four catches for 46 yards.   The production coming after he probably should have pulled down a deep, over the shoulder catch from Kizer.  Keith Ford, a real longshot to crack the running back room, had the longest, and prettiest rush of the night for 17 yards.

Several other players who had promising camps, may have felt the pressure.   Receiver Darrius Shepherd, the tryout kid from North Dakota State, fumbled a kickoff return that led to three points.    Former Wisconsin Badger defensive back Natrell Jamerson, struggled in coverage.   Offensive tackles Gerhard deBeer and Yosh Nijman both whiffed on protections giving up sacks.

Lane Taylor didn't play but could rest easy.  After the game, LaFleur said he had held off the challenge of second round pick Elgton Jenkins for the starting job at guard.

Statistically, the Packers gained only 211 yards, only 101 through the air.   The Chiefs put up 294 yards but dominated in time of possession (35:07 to 24:53).  Up until the go ahead march in the 4th quarter, the longest Packer possession was 3:40.

LaFleur was pleased with how most of his cut list finished the nearly five months of prep work:

 (Audio: Matt LaFleur)

A couple of other sidelight notes:

The jarring fog horn sound effect when the defense was facing a third down stop was not on the stadium playlist Thursday night.  It was replaced by flashing "GET LOUD" messages on the video boards.

When the Packers scored a touchdown, the Lambeau Field lights flickered on and off in celebration, giving the old place a disco feel.

One fan got in his 20 seconds of fame by running onto the field after the Packers final touchdown.   From the south end zone, he ran to midfield and pulled off his shirt.  Before any more clothes came off, a dozen security officers were closing in but it was Kansas City safety Harold Jones-Quartey that actually made the tackle.  Handcuffed and ushered away, it was an expensive way to get noticed.

The final roster cuts are due in the league office by 3:00 PM on Saturday.  I'll be surprised if there are any major surprises.  

Bear week is now upon us.   Chapter 197 opens the NFL's 100th season in six days.

Mark Daniels

I’ve got Green and Gold in my blood having grown up in Titletown and it’s been a treat watching and covering sports from the Packers to the preps for you in Green Bay for Midwest Communications.
As a kid, I chased Packer players for autographs, I’m still chasing ‘em now for quotes on the big play or big game. I’ve had the opportunity to cover Super Bowls, the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, NBA playoffs and major championship golf over the years but I get just as much enjoyment following the college scene at UWGB or St. Norbert, the Green Bay Gamblers and high school sports.
Our prep coverage was honored as the best of 2007 reinforcing our commitment to give these hard working boys and girls their due.
My work has also been recognized by the Associated Press and Wisconsin Broadcasters Association with several achievement awards.
Outside of the studio, off the field or away from the gym, I’ve had the pleasure of helping dozens of organizations over the years. I’ve served as race announcer and master of ceremonies at the Bellin Run almost from it’s beginning, spoken to various service clubs and hosted charity golf events or team banquets.
My wife Kari and I have raised two active children which has kept us involved in both school and club athletics for nearly 15 years. Chances are you’ll see me on a golf course when the weather’s nice. My roots are deep and that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about this area’s sporting scene, and as I often say, “Watching kids play games helps keep me young!”
Thanks for listening and see you at the game.