Pete Dougherty and Aaron Nagler give their first thoughts after watching the Packers beat the Eagles 24-9 in their preseason opener. (Aug. 10, 2017) USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - Rookie wide receiver Michael Clark knew the ball was coming before the play even began.
In the waning seconds of the Green Bay Packers' exhibition opener Thursday against Philadelphia, Clark lined up on the left side of the formation with the Packers a mere seven yards from the end zone. It was the type of play he and quarterback Taysom Hill had been discussing since the beginning of training camp.
“We talked weeks in advance that if we got in the red zone and I had a fly (route), he’s throwing me the ball,” Clark said.
So Hill threw it and Clark caught it, a seven-yard touchdown with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. It was Clark’s second catch of the game — he finished with two receptions for 19 yards — and a continuation of the impressive aerial ability he has flashed through the first two weeks of camp.
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“It was weird,” Clark said. “I didn’t feel no anxiety. I wasn’t nervous. I knew my opportunity would be small, but I knew I had to make the play when I can. I knew I was going to get a play. It’s kind of like I rehearsed it in my head over and over. It’s just like déjà vu.
“I almost forgot to Lambeau Leap. I kind of paused and then I was getting ready to go back (to the sideline). Taysom was like, ‘Come on, let’s go jump.’ So I jumped.”
Inside story: Knowing his quickest path to more playing time is through the interior defensive line, Dean Lowry spent an offseason preparing for the three-technique defensive tackle position.
Lowry added 10 pounds to his lower body, helping him anchor better against the run. He studied film, trying to adjust to the game’s quicker tempo inside. Given a full offseason to focus on the interior, Lowry also said he worked on his hand placement and footwork.
His first real test came Thursday night. Lowry had his way with Eagles second-year left guard Isaac Scumalo, finishing with one tackle and one pressure.
“I think tonight I played more three-tech against the run,” Lowry said, “and I made some good plays against that left guard right there controlling the line of scrimmage and getting some penetration there. I had a tackle that was a good release move. So it’s kind of hard to evaluate just off of one quarter, but I think from what we showed, it was a very good first quarter.”
Perhaps the biggest defensive bright spot Thursday night was the Packers’ defensive line. Mike Daniels long has been a fortress inside, but Lowry and fellow second-year defensive tackle Kenny Clark look improved. Both were active against the Eagles.
“I think it’s a big team need right now,” Lowry said, “having guys step up there. That’s been a focus, but I think also playing against the run. Because we go a lot of nickel defense, so it’s important that I can play that five and three (techniques) if I want to get more reps.
“I think I showed tonight that I can play that three pretty effectively.”