Swain, who sustained a torn ACL in his left knee last season in Week 7 at Cleveland covering a kickoff, led Green Bay with six receptions for 130 yards (21.7 avg.). Swain’s receiving yardage total was the most by a Packer in a preseason contest since teammate Greg Jennings posted 131 yards vs. Atlanta on Aug. 19, 2006.
“I think it builds my confidence a lot,” Swain said. “Not only in running the offense, but in all aspects of the game. We were able to make some plays out there. We were able to find some holes in some zone coverages. Just to know that you can do that and make some plays, it builds your confidence a whole lot.”
Swain had five catches for 53 yards in the first half, including a 22-yard pickup on a short pass over the middle from quarterback Matt Flynn. Three plays later, he picked up 14 yards on a pass over the middle to convert a third-and-11, absorbing a big hit from safety Kendrick Lewis.
Swain had a bit of a scare with less than two minutes remaining in the first half on a 9-yard reception near the sideline, limping off after being tackled by safety DaJuan Morgan. It was the second time this preseason that Swain left the field due to his knee, but he said Thursday night’s injury was simply a bruise from banging it on the ground. In the opener against Cleveland, another player rolled into his knee from behind, and Swain said experiences like those help build confidence in his knee because he knows he can take a hit and still be OK.
“Just to know that you can deal with those types of pains during the game and work through it,” Swain said. “Just know that it is going to calm down over time and just be able to pop back in there.
“They say it takes about a year to fully recover. I am getting close, and I am still going to have to deal with the bumps and bruises along the way and everything that comes along with it. I just have to keep fighting through it.”
Swain returned to the game on the Packers’ first offensive series of the second half, and made a big play to set up Green Bay’s only touchdown of the night. On second down at the Green Bay 18, Flynn executed a play-action fake, and found a wide-open Swain deep down the right sideline for a 77-yard gain all the way down to the Kansas City 5. The reception was the longest by a Packer in the preseason since Jennings posted an 89-yarder vs. Tennessee on Sept. 1, 2006, and set up running back Kregg Lumpkin’s 1-yard touchdown run up the middle two plays later.
“It was a play-action pass and I think they had bit on the run so hard that they just kind of forgot about me,” Swain said. “It was just perfect timing on that play and we were able to complete it.
“It wasn’t so much just a blown coverage as it was a good offensive call. It was a great play fake by Matt and I was able to fake a run block and kind of scoot up the field and was able to get open.”
Throughout training camp, Swain was on a one-a-day schedule for practice as he worked his way back from the knee injury. After beating out veteran Ruvell Martin last training camp for the fifth wide receiver spot largely due to his special-teams contributions, Swain has been anxious to show off his pass-catching abilities but also knew that he needed to be patient with his knee.
One of Swain’s main competitors for the fifth receiver spot, Charles Dillon, finished the preseason strong with six catches for 85 yards on Thursday night. Having missed last week’s game against Indianapolis, a performance like Thursday night’s comes at a good time for Swain with final roster decisions looming this weekend.
“Especially with the injury that I had, I don’t think you can stress out about time,” Swain said. “Time is of the essence with this injury. If you come back too early and you try to push things too fast too early, you can find yourself in a bad situation with swelling and stuff like that. Time is the best thing for this injury. You can’t put your mental notions over the fact that you still have to heal and you still have to recover.
“I felt like I had a chance to come in and compete with the 1s and the 2s and I felt like that was an opportunity to come out and make some plays, not just to show the coaches and the organization what I could do, but just for myself. “
Next man up
Thursday night was the final audition for punters Chris Bryan and Tim Masthay, and they were dealt a bit of a surprise late in the first quarter.
Long snapper Brett Goode, who has handled the snapping duties in every game the past two seasons, left the game after sustaining a blow to the head and did not return. Second-year guard/center Evan Dietrich-Smith, who hadn’t snapped in a game since his senior year at Idaho State, handled the snapping duties the rest of the night.
Dietrich-Smith, who said he only snapped on extra points and field goals in college, started off with a high snap to Bryan on a punt at the end of the first quarter. Bryan did a good job to get the kick off, but it only went for 37 yards.
“(Punts) was what I was worried about,” Dietrich-Smith said. “The guys had a lot of faith in me. They just came out and said, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just get the ball back there and we’ll take care of the rest.’ I thought it went pretty smooth.
“I took a couple of field goal snaps (on the sideline) and they were a little rocky at first. I calmed it down and found my range. I feel good on the field goal stuff and don’t really worry about that.”
Dietrich-Smith snapped for one more punt, a 37-yarder for Tim Masthay early in the fourth quarter, as well as Mason Crosby’s two field goals and one extra point.
“It throws the timing and rhythm off a little bit because Evan had to come in last second and just do the best he could do,” Masthay said. “He did a good job. He was hitting the frame, but sure, just because we haven’t worked together very often, it can disrupt timing. I thought he did a good job.
“It was a little curveball, but it happens in football. So we just dealt with it and did the best we could do.”
Masthay finished the preseason with a 44.0-yard average with a 34.0-yard net average on eight punts, while Bryan registered a 42.0-yard average with a 38.6-yard average on eight punts. Now both punters get to play the waiting game until final cuts are made on Saturday afternoon.
“The next 48 hours will be long,” Masthay said. “I am pretty pleased with the body of work that I have been able to put together, since March really. I have done the best I can do and now it is just up to the personnel department and the coaching staff.
“I think I have definitely progressed as a punter really since I got here in March, the work process that Shawn (Slocum) and Chad (Morton) and Mike have put me through. So I think I have benefited from working with all of these guys and putting in a lot of work and just getting better.”
After posting a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown on his only return of the preseason last Thursday against the Colts, first-year wide receiver Jason Chery was looking to make the most of a more extensive opportunity against the Chiefs.
With No. 1 punt and kickoff returner Will Blackmon sidelined because of a setback in his knee rehab, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said earlier in the week that Chery would handle all of the returns, both punts and kickoffs, on Thursday night.
On the opening kickoff of the game, Chery dropped the ball after catching it, then gathered himself before fumbling at the Green Bay 16. Fullback John Kuhn recovered to maintain possession for Green Bay.
“Just not being prepared,” Chery said. “My gloves were wet. I came out early and it was raining. I should have been prepared. I should have looked it in but I was so ready to go out there. I caught the ball clean, but then I couldn’t get a good grasp of the ball.
“That is not an excuse. I should have caught it and secured it more. That was my fault.”
Chery finished the night with a 16.0-yard average on three kickoff returns, with a 9.0-yard average on three punt returns.
"With Jason, I need to watch the tape," McCarthy said. "Anytime you’re in a perimeter position, and you’re handling the football, you always start, number one [with ball security], and ball security was not a positive tonight.
"I thought he did a pretty good job of making the first guy miss, and from the view that I have, I don’t know how many opportunities we really gave him as far as the blocking unit in front of him, so we’ll take a close look at that."
At the helm
McCarthy, who also serves as the offensive play-caller for the Packers, relinquished those responsibilities on Thursday night to offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.
“I thought he was a juggernaut,” McCarthy joked. "I’m not going to let him do it again because he is too good.”
The Packers posted 433 yards of total offense on Thursday night, their highest total this preseason. Green Bay registered 430 yards last Thursday against Indianapolis, and entered the game ranked second in the NFL this preseason with an average of 397.0 yards per game.
The injuries to Goode and Swain were the only ones reported by McCarthy from the game.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, running back Ryan Grant and cornerback Charles Woodson did not play (coach’s decisions).
Also not dressing on Thursday night were Blackmon (knee), cornerback Brandon Underwood (shoulder), linebackers Clay Matthews (hamstring), Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and Brad Jones (shoulder), tackle/guard Bryan Bulaga (hip flexor), tackle Chad Clifton (knee), defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), and tackle/guard Allen Barbre (back).
The defense featured three rookies in the starting lineup with Mike Neal getting the nod in Jenkins’ place, Frank Zombo for Jones, and Sam Shields for Woodson.
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