“Trust me I want to win every play, every game,” McCarthy said. “We’re a young football team, we’ve got a lot of guys battling to be on our 53, and we’ve got to make sure we create opportunities for those individuals.”
With that in mind, here’s a look at some players who helped themselves against the Rams. (Later today, I’ll take a look at those who hurt themselves).
Johnny Jolly: What once looked like it may be a charity case now looks like legitimate help for the defensive line. The Packers took back Jolly after he battled drug addiction, served jail time and a three-year suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. After a slow start to training camp, Jolly showed some of his old form. Although he played only 15 snaps, he made a major impact. He looked like the Jolly of 2009 (his last NFL season) on Saturday night, when he tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage that cornerback Jarrett Bush picked off. Jolly came up with an interception of his own when he dropped into coverage and came down with a pass deflected by cornerback Loyce Means. Jolly also made a pair of solo tackles, including one for just a 1-yard gain. He might not be in shape yet to play for long stretches, but he might have worked his way onto the roster. “Man, it’s just a matter of continuing to work hard and get better in everything I do and try my best to stick with the plan the coaches give me,” Jolly said after the game. “If I continue to do that, I’ll be fine.”
Micah Hyde: The rookie cornerback played more snaps (52) on defense than anyone else and continued to show that technique and instincts can make up for a lack of speed. Although his speed was an issue on the 57-yard completion he allowed to receiver Chris Givens in the first quarter, Hyde also should not have been left in single coverage on that play. It appeared he was expecting help from safety Jerron McMillian. Otherwise, Hyde made a major impact. Playing both outside and in the slot, he broke up a pair of passes, nearly intercepting one of them, had five tackles and a sack. He looked solid in coverage and effective blitzing from the slot. What’s more, he even got a shot at punt return duties, something he has hardly done at all in practice, and looked good on a 13-yard return. “I feel comfortable doing it,” said Hyde, who returned punts in college at Iowa. “The coaches have enough trust to put be back there, I’ll go back there and I’ll try my best doing it.”
Eddie Lacy: In his preseason debut, the rookie showed the kind of power running the Packers have lacked in their ground game in recent years. Lacy broke several tackles, showed off the spin move he used so effectively at Alabama and made a strong case for the starting job by rushing for 40 yards on eight carries. He caught one short pass and turned it into an 11-yard gain when he used his spin move to avoid a tackler. What should not go unnoticed from his 17-play stint was his solid pass protection that freed up Aaron Rodgers to hit James Jones on a slant and how the defense reacted to him when Rodgers used a play-action fake and then connected with tight end Jermichael Finley for a 33-yard catch and run. “It’s a starting point,” Lacy said. “I was able to see what I could do out there, and I just want to continue to progress and do better and get more opportunities to be able to contribute.”
B.J. Coleman: Just when it looked like Coleman had played his way out of the backup quarterback competition, he outperformed Graham Harrell and Vince Young. Coleman played the entire fourth quarter (23 snaps) and led a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. He capped the drive with a throw on the run for a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Stoneburner. He completed 8-of-13 passes for 86 yards and a passer rating of 106.6. Although he failed to pick up any first downs in his other two full series, he showed improved poise and accuracy. “He had a couple of plays that he’s going to wish he had back, but I thought he saw pressure from their defense and did a couple of things at the line of scrimmage,” McCarthy said after the game. “(He) needs to settle down a little bit more, but B.J. improved.”
Mason Crosby: Two weeks after his abysmal 3-for-8 field goal performance in the team’s scrimmage, Crosby went 3-for-3, including a solidly hit 48-yarder. It was the kind of performance Crosby needed, especially after he didn’t get any chances to kick in the preseason opener against Arizona. This may have helped him gain an edge over challenger Giorgio Tavecchio, who missed a 49-yarder and went 1-for-2. “I’ve just got to build off of that,” Crosby said. “I hit my 48-yarder as well as I wanted to.”