Monday, September 9, 2013
The trouble with youth
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- One of the potential problems with having a perpetually young team is that Week 1 games can be something of an adventure.
In Sunday’s 34-28 season-opening loss at San Francisco, that was the case at several positions for the Green Bay Packers, who came out of training camp with the fifth-youngest roster in the NFL, per colleague Mike Sando.
Whether it was rookie running back Eddie Lacy or inexperienced players in the secondary -- rookie cornerback Micah Hyde and second-year safety Jerron McMillian played extensively -- the mistakes were costly.
Lacy got off to a slow start, lost a fumble and finished with just 41 yards on 14 attempts.
“Eddie needs to detail his work,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Whether it’s the runs, protection, our young guys were, it was their first game, and he was one of them.
“But the details, that’s the difference between winning and losing in this league.”
When asked what, exactly, that meant, offensive coordinator Tom Clements said: “That entails knowing what your job responsibilities are and making sure you execute them to the best of your ability.”
That was the one of the focuses of McCarthy’s speech to the team during Monday’s team meeting.
“Effort wise, I don’t think it’s a question,” veteran cornerback Jarrett Bush said. “Just being held accountable is some of the issue. That’s part of my job, Tramon (Williams’ job), Sam Shields’ (job), some of the guys in the secondary, just getting the younger guys (to understand) this is the Packers way, this is what the coaches want.”
In other odds and ends:
- McCarthy gave positive reviews to his starting tackles, rookie David Bakhtiari and second-year pro Don Barclay. Said McCarthy: “I thought Don and David, they played well. Tough environment, good football team, so it was a great test. We have a lot of respect for their whole defensive line, the way they’re coached, the outside linebackers are both premier players, so it was a great test for those guys.”
- Jeremy Ross didn’t do enough in the kick return game to convince the Packers to go with him full time. Ross averaged just 13.3 yards on three kickoff returns and had a 9-yard punt return plus a fair catch. Randall Cobb, the primary returner the last two seasons, was used in spot duty and had a 16-yard punt return. “I thought our production in the return game was nowhere [close] to where it needed to be in the kickoff return game,” special teams coach Shawn Slocum said. “We had opportunities, and we didn’t get it done. Our blocking was poor. We gave our offense two series starting inside the 10-yard line. That’s totally unacceptable. Our punt return, we had an explosive return with Randall and Jeremy had a solid return and could’ve broken it even longer.”
- Even when the Packers committed extra defenders to covering Anquan Boldin, who caught 13 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown, the 49ers receiver still made plays. Said defensive coordinator Dom Capers: “As a matter of fact, two of his catches -- the touchdown pass we had a double on him and he just beat the double, and the very first third down of the second half, we had them to third-and-9 and had a double call on him, and that’s when I think it was a 22-yarder on a 7-yard route. So it wasn’t like we didn’t have things up and ready.”
- McCarthy had no new injury information on safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Casey Hayward, both of whom missed the game because of hamstring injuries. The only injury that was announced from the game was linebacker Nick Perry (stinger).