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M.D. Jennings has rough first start

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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SAN DIEGO – M.D. Jennings had a rough first outing as a starter at safety for the Packers. Jennings has been working all preseason in the No. 1 defense’s nickel and dime personnel groups, a position that will be on the field for probably 75 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. He also was in the base defense Thursday night in the Packers' 21-13 loss to the San Diego Chargers in their preseason opener because Charles Woodson, who moves to slot cornerback in the nickel and dime, was given the night off for rest. Jennings made errors on two of San Diego’s touchdowns. On one he bit hard on a fake by tight end Antonio Gates and gave up a 23-yard touchdown pass. On the other he was one of three players to miss a tackle on receiver Vincent Brown on a 27-yard touchdown pass. “Those plays overshadow my (overall) performance,” Jennings said. “I just have to look at the film and try to do better. (Safeties) coach (Darren Perry) told me to be more disciplined.” On the touchdown to Gates, the Packers were in a zone defense, and Jennings was responsible for coverage on Gates over the top, while linebacker D.J. Smith was responsible for coverage underneath. But Gates faked an out or corner route, and Jennings bit hard and got spun around. When Gates turned back in on a post route he was wide open. “Double move, and I jumped the first one,” Jennings said. “He ran a great route. I have to be more disciplined in my coverage.” On the other touchdown, Brown juked safety Jerron McMillian in the open field, then ran through Jennings inside the 10 and dived over a low tackle by linebacker Dezman Moses into the end zone. “I had a good chance to make that tackle,” Jennings said. “I missed that tackle. I have to be more disciplined in my tackling.” **Receiver Diondre Borel, who has had a strong training camp as possibly the No. 6 receiver, made two errors in judgment in the return game, one that led to a fumble and another that caused him to unnecessarily take a hard hit. On the first, Borel fielded San Diego’s first kickoff seven yards deep in the end zone but brought it out rather than down it. Linebacker Demorrio Williams hit him hard from the side inside the 20, and the Chargers recovered the fumble. Borel was working with the No. 1 kickoff-return unit on the play instead of Randall Cobb, who was the primary kickoff returner last year. “We’ll see on film,” Borel said. “I probably should have downed it, but I brought it out. I just needed to carry the ball a little higher, they said I was carrying it loose, got hit from the side. It was (a good shot). They told me worst-case scenario when you go in there fast, just put the other hand over the ball so if you do get hit or you feel somebody coming, you have the ball covered up.” Borel was working with the No. 2 punt-return unit on the second play, and on a short, high punt fielded the ball on the run and took an immediate hard shot. He did well just to hold the ball. “I should have called a fair catch,” he said. **Backup quarterback Graham Harrell played most of the game, from late in the first quarter through the Packers’ second-to-last possession of the night, and put up two touchdowns and an 81.6 passer rating under often helter-skelter conditions. Harrell played in front of the No. 2 offensive line and spent much of the night scrambling and trying to make throws on the run. He finished going 15-for-27 passing for 135 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. “I think it’s a strength of Graham the way he is extremely consistent with his personality,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s an excellent trait to have. It enables him to navigate through these types of environments. Every young quarterback, every backup quarterback that plays in preseason games experiences this. This is nothing new but it’s a great experience.”  

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