Protection problems plague Packers in 13-6 exhibition loss to Raiders

Ryan Wood
Green Bay Press-Gazette
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley, center, is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (73) and defensive end Fadol Brown, obscured, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. At right is Raiders defensive end Arden Key (99).

If the Green Bay Packers hoped to get clean evaluations of their backup quarterbacks Friday night, they surely left Oakland disappointed.

On a baseball field prepared for the Oakland Athletics — at least bases were removed from the dirt infield — the Packers' offensive line was put on skates. A Raiders pass rush that lacked All-Pro Khalil Mack spent all night in the Packers' backfield, finishing with five sacks, eight quarterback hits and what seemed like a hurry on every other pass play.

Maybe the Packers wanted to use their offensive line to lure the Raiders into thinking their pass rush is just fine without Mack, thus improving their chances of attaining one of the NFL’s best defensive players.

More likely, the Packers' offensive line depth is a problem.

“It was clearly not a very good evening for us up front,” coach Mike McCarthy told reporters after the game.

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BOX SCORE: Raiders 13, Packers 6

Without a single projected starter on their offensive line, the Packers used Friday night’s 13-6 loss to see what their depth looked like against NFL starters. Such is a real possibility once the regular season begins, considering how injuries can force teams into makeshift lineups. The Packers' offensive line was rarely healthy a year ago, elevating backups to starting roles.

Friday night’s verdict: The Packers desperately need their starting linemen to stay healthy.

The Packers appeared intent on playing Jason Spriggs at left tackle and Kyle Murphy at right tackle for four quarters, but Murphy left in the second half and did not return. Usually solid at right tackle, where he started three games adequately last season, Murphy had a miserable outing against the Raiders. He allowed two sacks, including a strip-sack when Raiders defensive end Fadol Brown beat him with little resistance late in the first half.

It’s unclear whether Murphy was pulled for bad play or because of injury. Murphy had his ankle evaluated and taped on the sideline. Pankey, who started at left guard, replaced Murphy at right tackle.

Murphy was hardly the only offensive lineman who struggled. Dillon Day, who started camp as the backup center but has since lost the job to Lucas Patrick, nullified a touchdown run when he was called for holding and a chop block on the same play. Spriggs was called for a false start on third-and-17 in the first quarter, making it third-and-22.

The Packers had 13 penalties, while the Raiders had 10.

“The penalties kind of were the theme for the evening,” McCarthy said. “It was a sloppy football game.”

The Packers were driving late in the fourth quarter, but their bid for a tying touchdown ended when left guard Kofi Amichia was beaten inside for a fourth-down sack by Treyvon Hester.

For their part, the Packers' quarterbacks couldn’t overcome their shoddy protection. Hundley and Kizer split the first and second halves, with fourth-string quarterback Tim Boyle left on the shelf, and produced only six points — one field goal apiece.

Hundley appeared affected by the pressure, showing the same spotty pocket presence as last season. He finished 8-of-14 for 78 yards (5.6 yards per pass) and a 72.9 rating. Kizer didn’t produce any better, finishing 8-of-18 for 93 yards (5.2 yards per pass) and a 60.6 rating.

The offense clicked on all cylinders inside Lambeau Field. The Packers scored 31 points in their opener against the Tennessee Titans and 51 (37 coming from the offense) against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Hundley and Kizer putting up big numbers.

It’s unlikely either quarterback is as good as he looked through the first two weeks, but it’s also unlikely they're as bad as they looked Friday.

That’s because the Packers' backup offensive line never really gave them a chance. Yes, an elite quarterback can make any offensive line look better, but absent some Aaron Rodgers magic, the Packers better hope their starting offensive line stays healthy this fall.

The backups are a scary sight.


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