Halfway through the preseason schedule, the Green Bay Packers' roster and depth chart is starting to take shape.
Here's a look at who helped themselves during Saturday's 21-7 victory at the St. Louis Rams:
1. JC Tretter: If coach Mike McCarthy was not ready to formally announce Tretter as his starting center last week, perhaps he will be this week after another strong performance by the second-year pro. Tretter and the starting offensive line played two series and helped engineer a pair of 12-play, 80-plus yard drives that resulted in 10 points. It's nearly impossible to tell that Tretter had never played center before this year and had never played in an NFL game before last week. "It's pretty seamless," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "He's doing a great job. He's very intelligent, knows the checks. He's made a lot of good plays. He's not somebody you worry about, which is good for him being his first year."
2. The No. 1 offense: Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy all sat out of the preseason opener at Tennessee. You would not have known it by how they played against the Rams. They looked in mid-season form. Rodgers had only two incompletions in 13 attempts and threw one touchdown pass (a 3-yarder to Randall Cobb). He would have had a second one, to Nelson, if not for a penalty that wiped it out. Lacy averaged 5.0 yards per carry on five attempts and also caught a pair of passes out of the backfield. Rodgers ran the no-huddle offense and did so with the increased tempo McCarthy wants this season. "I'll have to look at the numbers," McCarthy said. "It felt like we were at a pretty good tempo." It's worth noting that, as Rodgers said, the Rams played "very vanilla"on defense.
3. Backup quarterbacks: The Packers may not pick a backup quarterback until the end of the preseason but after two games, they should feel good about their options regardless of whether they choose Scott Tolzien or Matt Flynn. Tolzien followed up his strong performance in the rain against Tennessee by completing 10 of 15 passes for 107 yards without a turnover despite protection issues by the No. 2 offensive line. Tolzien got the call to go in after Rodgers' two series. "I thought his decision-making was good and the management of what he was trying to do out there," McCarthy said. "We had some pressures there that really hurt us in some of our drives. We’ll look at the video. I thought Scott improved [Saturday]." Flynn played just three series but completed 2 of 3 passes, including the 34-yard touchdown to rookie receiver Jeff Janis.
4. Undrafted rookies: The Packers recorded seven sacks and five of them came from undrafted rookies. Outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott of Toledo had three sacks in a four-play stretch in the fourth quarter. He used his speed to make first-year left tackle Sean Hooey look foolish. On his third sack, Elliott stripped the ball from quarterback Austin Davis. Defensive tackle Mike Pennel of Colorado State-Pueblo, who has received extensive playing time as the No. 2 nose tackle throughout camp, may have solidified a roster spot with his second-quarter sack of Shaun Hill. Outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard of Alabama had the other sack. It was a much-needed play for Hubbard, who had not made much of an impact to date. "What could you say, the young man gets a chance like that," McCarthy said of Elliott. “We wanted to make sure he got more reps this week. Hubbard also. And then just the production. Once again, that would fall in the big-play category."
5. Julius Peppers: After an uneventful debut with the Packers in a 10-play stint against the Titans, Peppers was far more productive in two full series with the defensive starters against the Rams. Peppers had a tackle for a loss, stuffing running back Zac Stacy for a 2-yard loss on the first series, and then hit quarterback Sam Bradford on an incompletion on the second series. "I thought our defense played good, particularly the first group," McCarthy said. "Just the little that I saw, Julius was impactful."