Insider: Thumbs up to LB depth, down to offensive production

Aug. 29, 2013

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Green Bay Packers linebacker Sam Barrington sacks Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Tyler Bray during the second half of Thursday's game at Arrowhead Stadium. / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports


Thumbs Up

Now we know why the Packers cut Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith in the offseason. The Packers’ quality and depth at inside linebacker was once again evident in Kansas City, where Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore and rookie Sam Barrington made their share of plays. Francois recorded a textbook stop on Chiefs running back Knile Davis for a 1-yard gain on a third-and-2 first-quarter screen pass. Later in the first quarter on a blitz, Francois pressured Chase Daniels to nearly throw an interception to Lattimore, who has a knack for being around the ball. In the third quarter Barrington had a perfectly timed blitz up the middle for a sack and safety of Tyler Bray. Barrington and Lattimore finished with six tackles apiece.

Thumbs down

Take your pick. There was shaky backup quarterback play, including one turnover each by B.J. Coleman (one bad interception) and Vince Young (2 fumbles, 1 lost). There was shoddy backup line play that produced little running room and spotty protection. There was unsightly execution on screen passes. The third-down conversion rate was awful (2 of 15). The rushing offense was virtually non-existent (2.5-yard average). Is it any wonder the Packers offense managed just six points against the Chiefs? It was a continuation of a brutal preseason offensive showing in which the Packers mustered just two touchdowns and averaged 9 points per game. How deep is the Packers offense? Not very, based on forgettable results in Kansas City and throughout the preseason.

Did you notice?

■ Ex-Packers linebacker Frank Zombo, who saw action early in the game for the Chiefs, intercepted a Coleman pass to set up a first-quarter touchdown.

■ Both teams held out their starting quarterbacks. Young opened the game in place of Aaron Rodgers, and Daniels started in place of Alex Smith for the Chiefs.

■ Rookie Micah Hyde fielded punts but showed his inexperience in the first half when he called for a fair catch with the nearest defender more than 10 yards away in coverage.

■A personal foul penalty on a Johnny Jolly late hit in the first half helped the Chiefs on their touchdown drive, but replays showed the call might have been questionable.

■ Brandon Smith gave up three touchdown passes against rookie Bray — 8 yards against Junior Hemingway, 43 yards to Josh Bellamy and 9 yards to Frankie Hammond. Smith’s one shining moment was a terrific third-quarter interception of a Bray pass to Rico Richardson near the goal line.

■ Myles White hustled downfield to deflect a punt from going into the end zone in the third quarter, and Johnathan Franklin downed it at the 2-yard line.

■ Tim Masthay punted 9 times, including three that were downed inside the 20, but his most impressive play was a textbook tackle of Hammond that might have saved a touchdown.

■ More than half of Arrowhead Stadium was empty. It was one more piece of evidence that the NFL should stop charging full price for preseason games and reduce the number of exhibition games.

— Mike Vandermause,

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports