KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There are many decisions to make over the next couple of days, but the Packers feel they got the final pieces of information they need to make the right ones.
The 17-7 loss in the preseason finale Thursday night in Kansas City was inconsequential as far as the score was concerned. What mattered is the game film the Packers’ coaches and personnel staff have to review on a number of young players who tried to state a final case for a roster spot with cuts looming on Saturday.
“It’s busy,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said of the next 48-plus hours. “A lot of conversation, a lot of different scenarios.
“You try to make the right decisions. You have to evaluate production, evaluate projection. That’s a lot of what these decisions come down to.”
The Packers continued their preseason trend of young players making high-impact plays in games.
Perhaps no one jumped out against the Chiefs as much as third-year receiver Jared Abbrederis, who made a spectacular diving catch of a 40-yard bomb from QB Joe Callahan and later added a 42-yard punt return in his push to make the 53-man roster out of training camp for the first time.
“I’ll take a day like today,” Abbrederis said. “There was one pass that got away that I’d like to have back, but otherwise I felt pretty good.”
Other splashes were made by cornerbacks Josh Hawkins and LaDarius Gunter. Hawkins recorded his second interception of the preseason while Gunter, after some rough moments in coverage in the first half, picked off a pass and broke up another in the second half. Receiver Ty Montgomery also blocked a punt early, and rookie defensive lineman Brian Price forced a fumble late.
The defensive star might have been rookie third-round draft pick Kyler Fackrell. Playing the majority of the game for the first time, Fackrell got his second sack of the preseason and had a handful of additional tackles for loss on running plays. He was credited with a team-high 10 total tackles.
Fackrell played what had been his best game of the preseason last week in San Francisco and then topped it in Kansas City, finishing as strong as he possibly could. He called this a “jumping point” for him.
“I’m going to play whatever role they have for me, and I’m fairly certain there will be a big one on special teams at least,” the backup outside linebacker said. “Getting tackles on special teams, making the plays there, if that’s how I’m going to help this team, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Another positive development was the debut of new punter Jacob Schum. Claimed off waivers on Tuesday from Tampa Bay, Schum punted eight times and posted solid averages (45.5 gross, 41.3 net) with just one touchback and three inside the 20.
McCarthy seemed most pleased with Schum’s directional ability.
“I thought he did a lot of good things,” McCarthy said. “He punted well in practice yesterday, and I thought he continued that again tonight. The ball placement outside the numbers is what you’re looking for.”
Miscues in the preseason finale were prevalent, too, and they could impact final roster decisions. Tight end Casey Pierce and running back Brandon Burks both turned the ball over with fumbles, while reserve guard Lane Taylor was flagged for three penalties (twice for holding) and the No. 2 offensive line allowed four sacks of Callahan.
Injury-wise, rookie receiver Trevor Davis left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury, and rookie offensive lineman (and Green Bay-area native) Kyle Steuck was carted off the field late in the game for an undisclosed reason.
Rookie safety Marwin Evans also took an illegal blindside block and was down on the field momentarily, but he quickly returned to the game.
“I don’t really have information on injuries tonight,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see if that plays into what happens in the next 48 hours.”
Difficult decisions must be made.
“I think that’s obvious,” McCarthy said. “This is the position you want to be in as a head coach. It’s a product of putting together a healthy roster, and we’ll start that process as we get on the plane tonight.”
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