The Green Bay Packers opened the 2016 pre-season slate with a 17-11 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Aside from learning that it is possible to have three safeties in one game, what did we learn?
It is difficult to conclude too much from preseason games. When teams are not game planning, and adjustments are few and far between, learning valuable lessons can be tough. Looking closely at last night’s contest there are several things we learned.
What We Learned
We learned that Justin Perillo will be the Packers third tight end.
Justin Perillo was a standout performer Friday night, catching five passes for 52 yards. Friday’s performance is a continuation of a successful training camp. Perillo’s performance is separating him from Kennard Backman and Mitchell Henry in the race for the third tight end roster spot.
The Packers have given Backman every opportunity to make the team. Backman appears to have a higher ceiling than Perillo. At this point, Backman needs to show that he can perform now if he hopes to challenge Perillo for the roster spot.
Although Backman made a couple plays, Perillo showed Friday night that he has the ability to get open. Additionally, his sure hands, and even the willingness to do the dirty work in the trenches, give him the inside track.
What We Think We Learned
Eddie Lacy is fat. He’s skinny. Maybe he’s fat again.
It’s been a long time since a player’s weight has been discussed as thoroughly as Eddie Lacy’s during this training camp. We think we learned that, while he may never win Mr. Universe, Lacy has gotten himself in shape to return to his old form.
After Lacy’s very disappointing 2015, Lacy entered his contract year as a big question mark. Maybe too big. When TMZ ran a story on his P90-X regimen, Packers fans (and I’m sure Mike McCarthy) hoped to see a total transformation of his body.
Although he only had four carries, Lacy’s 6 yards per carry average was impressive. More importantly, he looked to have some more spring in his step. His standout carry was a third and one run on the first possession where he shrugged off a low tackle attempt near the line of scrimmage and showed a nice burst through the hole to gain 11.
Lacy still has a ways to go before we can say he is officially back, but tonight we think we learned he has taken a step in the right direction.
What We Hope Isn’t True
We hope that it isn’t true that Demetri Goodson has failed to improve.
This was a game that Demetri Goodson will hope to forget soon, and the Packers hope this was not a sign of his progression as a player. Goodson had a bad late hit personal foul on a punt return that allowed the Browns to start a drive in the Packers’ red zone. He followed that up by allowing a touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins.
In a roundabout way, Goodson might actually stand a better chance of making the roster in light of his drug suspension, as he won’t count against the roster limit while suspended, allowing the Packers to hold off on the tough decision of whether to keep Goodson in a crowded cornerback group.
By the time he is eligible to return, injuries will likely have made the Packers’ decision much easier. For Goodson’s sake, though, we should hope that tonight was not a sign that he isn’t developing into a reliable NFL cornerback.