The third preseason game is a critical time for many of the young players currently on the team. By the time the tape evaluation of the game is finished, the coaches will have a good idea of what the final roster will look like, the 4th preseason game is often too little too late. A look at couple players whose career is riding on this game.
Justin Harrell – There is no player on the roster that has drawn more ire than Justin Harrell, among fans and the press. Fortunately/unfortunately for him little of it is related to his play on the field, the problem being his lack thereof. After a strong showing against the Browns, where he looked like our 4th best lineman, possibly even higher, he came back with a poor showing against the Seahawks. Many excuses are floated around, from his back to distracted by his newborn child, any way you cut it though he didn’t play well. This week’s game very important for him. If he shows that the game against Seattle was just a fluke, he’s almost assured of a roster spot and could potentially challenge to start, or at least earn himself a significant amount of playing time. There is no player on the roster build to dominate at LDE as well as Justin is. He is virtually ideal for the spot. He is tall, long, very strong, stout against combo blocking, yet also has some quickness and pocket pushing power. Overall though his best trait is play awareness. Justin absolutely excels at locating the ball, and always has, his tackles per snap totals are high whenever he is on the field, and he never has that “lost” look that some defensive lineman, even good ones, have far too often.
Brett Swain – Interestingly, Swain actually has little competition from other wide receivers, the top 4 receivers being well ahead of him, the rest being well behind. His main competition is in the form of a very deep and talented group of tight ends. Swain has shown a little on the field as a receiver, though his primary way onto the roster will be through special team play. And the tight end group is tough to beat on special teams. He does have practice squad eligibility, for him that could in fact be a curse however when it comes to making the 53 man roster. Unfortunately for Swain, thus far he has proven to be relatively fragile. He needs to show that he is one of the very best on special teams this upcoming weekend.
Breno Giacomini – Breno is now on year 3 of the project to make him an NFL tackle, it is time to produce. He remains extremely inconsistent, and is coming off of two poor showings. If he is going to give coaches hope, and a reason to give him a roster spot, this weekend is his his last chance. Right tackle only players have very little backup value on the roster, and there are other developmental projects that are worth pursuing. Breno has no practice squad eligibility remaining, so his time as an NFL player could be coming to an end in little over a week. If Breno has any hope of making the roster, Matt Flynn will have all day to throw.
Charlie Peprah – To my knowledge, Charlie is not on any #1 special teams units, nor is he the top backup at either safety position. Charlie has hung around the back end of the Packers roster for a few seasons now, this camp was really his chance to step up, unfortunately for him he has been near invisible. He needs to have the game of his life to find a way onto the roster. When it comes to a roster spot, most of the players he is competing with are better special teams players, have more upside, or are better defensive players. It is do or die time for him to assert himself.
These are just a few. More than a 1/3rd of the team will be cut in the next week and a half, with at most 8 of them returning to the practice squad, for all of the players on the back half of the roster, the next couple days are the most important in their NFL career.
On a personal note, sorry about my long absence. I do plan on regularly posting again, and will continue to do power rankings throughout the season. I have developed a significantly more advanced and more accurate predictive model(s) than I was using last year, based off the same concepts but greatly enhanced, using 3rd down %, adjusted passing YPA, and home field advantage in addition to scoring. More to come.