The Green Bay Packers won their first game of the 2012 NFL preseason when they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 27-13 on August 23. The Packers had a 17-6 lead before they removed most of their starters at the start of the second half. Cedric Benson made his Packers debut. Greg Jennings played in a game for the first time this season.
Here are some observations from that contest.
Cedric Benson will need some time to learn the offense. That doesn't mean that he can't be productive when he gets the football. Benson had six rushes for 38 yards. He also had a 10-yard reception. Benson ran with much more authority and aggressiveness than Alex Green, who had five rushes for 10 yards.
The pass protection was hideous throughout the entire game. The Packers surrendered four sacks. Aaron Rodgers was scrambling often as he had six rushes for 52 yards with two touchdowns. Graham Harrell wasn't as lucky as he was sacked three times. He doesn't have the mobility to escape oncoming pass-rushers.
It was strange to see the Packers' offensive line excel in run-blocking while they struggled with pass-blocking. I hope that isn't a preview of what could unravel against the San Francisco 49ers in their Week 1 game.
The Packers' defense surrendered a measly 195 total yards. Excluding Andrew Dalton, the Bengals' leading rusher had 19 rushing yards. Dalton completed 5-of-17 passes for 40 yards. The Packers' defense had seven quarterback hits with sacks from Erik Walden, Clay Matthews (one-half sack) and B.J. Raji (one-half sack). Tramon Williams successfully defended two fade routes that were thrown to A.J. Green.
The Packers were fortunate because Dalton missed a few of his intended targets. Despite that, the defense took a step in the right direction. The only touchdown they allowed was on a short field following a fumbled exchange between John Kuhn and Harrell in the third quarter.
Graham Harrell completed 5-of-12 passes for 26 yards. Harrell was pressured on nearly every play. His receivers dropped some passes. Harrell led a three-point drive in the fourth quarter.
There weren't many quarterbacks who would've excelled in that situation. Harrell should get plenty of reps in the preseason finale.
I was encouraged to see the Packers jump out to a 14-0 lead and clinch their first preseason victory of 2012. A winless preseason would've put a bad taste in my mouth. This offense will thrive as long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy. The offensive line must do better than they did in this game.
The defense is a work-in-progress. My biggest disappointment with this preseason is that there haven't been any young players who've dominated. I've become accustomed to players such as Frank Zombo, Vic So'oto and Sam Shields making significant contributions during the preseason.
The Packers will complete their preseason schedule when they host the Kansas City Chiefs on August 30. Don't expect the starters to get much playing time. They're already dealing with too many injuries to risk losing more men for their home opener on September 9.
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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