While the third Packers preseason game is often considered the “dress rehearsal,” the fourth game is usually an afterthought. Almost no starters play, and few roster spots are still in contention. Not much will change for most players, but the final game can cement a pattern of strong performances for guys on the roster bubble.
Bubble Cornerbacks Seize Opportunity
LaDarius Gunter and Josh Hawkins all had big moments against the Rams and showed why they belong on the Packers roster. Gunter had a sack and an INT, showing he can make plays. He was unblocked on the sack and the INT was a bobbled pass, but he still got home and he still secured the pick. As Gunter lined up in the slot more, some speculated it was an indication he was on the bubble. I think it shows what makes him an asset as a backup CB. While he can’t match up well in open space, he’s showing he can be versatile—which is key for a backup. Hawkins capped off a strong preseason with a solid showing, all but solidifying his place on the final roster. Hawkins (literally) stumbled when put on the field in 2016, but he has shown marked improvement in his technique. If the Packers keep a sixth CB, Hawkins is most likely to fill that role.
At this point, Donatello Brown is likely fighting for practice squad scraps with Lenzy Pipkins, Raysean Pringle, and Daquan Holmes. For guys like them, Thursday night was very important. Brown and Pipkins, like much of the preseason, were fairly neck-and-neck. Both finished the game with comparable stats, but one sequence involving Brown really stood out. Orlovsky (yes, that Orlovsky) targeted Brown in the end zone three times for three incompletions. Despite his obvious deficiencies, Orlovsky is a veteran QB and knows how to pick on inexperienced DBs. Being targeted three times in a row (in the end zone!) is a test of will, and Brown passed with flying colors. Brown also came away with an interception, which certainly doesn’t hurt his case.
Ringo vs Price
One of the closest battles of camp was just as heated last night. Christian Ringo and Brian Price are essentially fighting to be the sixth defensive lineman. Due to a couple injuries to linemen ahead of them on the depth chart, they have a real shot at seizing that final spot. Ringo has shown more ability as a pass rusher, and has shown versatility to line up at 3 tech and nose. Price displayed more ability to be a stout run defender. At any other position, Ringo might have the advantage, but since they’re backup DTs they must not be a liability in the run game.
Against the Rams, Ringo gave a generally good performance when playing the run. Perhaps not as good as Price, but if Ringo can show he can stand up against the run, his other strengths might put him over the edge.
Hundley Starting to Resemble Rodgers
Brett Hundley is a good QB, and clearly has picked up some of Rodgers’ good habits. He almost looked like Rodgers as he scrambled to extend plays and made up for a lackluster running game with strong passing. He constantly had to escape pressure behind a porous line, but he made it look easy. It’ll become more difficult to see Hundley go as he becomes more capable of actually stepping in for Rodgers, but that’s a good problem to have.
While the rookie RBs once again struggled to get much going on the ground behind poor run blocking, all three showed promising receiving ability. Williams and Jones have looked better in pass protection, but Mays has definitely helped his chances by displaying good hands. Coming out of college, one of the biggest questions was whether Mays could catch out of the backfield.