Packers name Lane Taylor starting left guard before preseason finale win over Chiefs
GREEN BAY - With cutdown day looming Saturday and the back end of the Green Bay Packers' roster still in doubt, head coach Matt LaFleur announced the end of one position competition before his team hosted the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
Veteran Lane Taylor won the competition over rookie Elgton Jenkins for the starting left guard job, LaFleur said.
“I just think it’s a comfort factor. You’ve got an experienced player. I think Elgton is a guy that’s got a lot to learn but I think there’s a lot to like about Elgton. I think he’s got a bright future.”
On the field, the Packers pulled off a 27-20 win over the Chiefs before an announced crowd of 73,803.
BOX SCORE: Packers 27, Chiefs 20
Taylor was one of the 37 players the Packers elected not to dress, with Jenkins suited up only for emergency purposes. Also suiting up was guard Dejon Allen, who was signed Thursday afternoon — and he ended up playing on the final series and blocked for Dexter Williams’ game-winning 2-yard touchdown run with just over six minutes left in the game.
Allen had gone undrafted out of the University of Hawaii in 2018 and spent that season on the Chicago Bears practice squad. The Bears cut him on May 3 and the last time he hit anyone was last season. He flew into Green Bay on Wednesday night, took a physical and learned a handful of plays hours before the game.
“That’s a first,” LaFleur said. “Matter of fact, when (Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst) told me we were signing him last night, I was like, I’ve never seen that happen before. The fact that he had to go in the game and that’s a credit to Adam Stenavich and Luke Butkus, getting those guys ready to play. It’s a credit to Dejon to be able to go in there and execute. And also a credit to the other guys that were out there helping him along the way.”
The only starters who dressed for the Packers were fullback Danny Vitale, defensive lineman Montravius Adams and rookie safety Darnell Savage Jr. Rookie outside linebacker Rashan Gary, who was carted off the field after a scary collision against Oakland last week, also suited up but did not play along with Adams and Savage.
In the backup quarterback competition, which LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy said was close, Tim Boyle earned his second straight start over DeShone Kizer.
The Packers went three-and-out on their first two possessions of the first quarter, with Boyle going 2-for-3 for 16 yards and getting sacked twice. On the only drive he led in the second quarter, which began at the Chiefs’ 29 thanks to a turnover, the offense used 26 yards of penalties to set up a 2-yard touchdown throw from Boyle to tight end Jace Sternberger.
Boyle finished 3-for-6 for 17 yards and a score for a 95.8 rating.
As for his chances of making the team for the second straight year, Boyle acknowledged, “I don’t get to make that call. I think I put a good preseason together. Now it’s just a waiting game and see what happens.”
Kizer entered the game at his own 4-yard line with 6 minutes, 53 seconds to go in the half. He scrambled for one first down but was intercepted by Jordan Lucas, setting up a Chiefs score. Handed one more first-half series and a chance to run the two-minute offense, Kizer began his second drive at the Packers’ 19 and marched the team 81 yards in 12 plays, hitting tight end Evan Baylis for a 1-yard touchdown pass and 20-10 halftime lead. He ended the half 7-for-12 for 59 yards.
LaFleur offered no hints on which way the club was leaning between Kizer and Boyle, or if they’ll keep both for a second straight year.
“Yeah, that’s still ... we’ll take a look at the tape, and we’ll come to that conclusion in the next two days, when we have to,” LaFleur said.
Kizer was back on the field at the start of the third quarter and directed two second-half drives that ended in punts. He gave way to undrafted Manny Wilkins with 12:26 left in regulation, finishing 8-for-15 for 77 yards and a 62.3 rating.
Kizer's numbers for the preseason: 25-for-45 (55.5 %), 273 yards, 2 TD passes, 2 interceptions for a 69.95 rating.
Boyle's numbers for the preseason: 34-for-57 (59.6%), 356 yards, 6 TD passes, 0 interceptions for a 112.9 rating.
The Chiefs, behind undrafted rookie quarterback Kyle Shurmur, controlled the ball for nearly 11 minutes and took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 28-yard field goal by Harrison Butker.
The Packers would take the lead early in the second quarter thanks to a 74-yard interception return for a touchdown by rookie linebacker Ty Summers. Fellow rookie linebacker Markus Jones hit Shurmur and the ball floated into the air. Summers snagged it and had a clear path to the end zone.
Jones was around the ball again as he recovered a fumbled exchange between Shurmur and running back Marcus Marshall, giving Boyle the ball back at the Chiefs’ 29 to set up the touchdown from Boyle to Sternberger.
It was Sternberger’s first action of the preseason after he suffered a concussion in the joint practices with the Houston Texans early in training camp. The third-round pick was carted to the locker room just before the first half ended, however, after he hit the turf hard following an incomplete pass. He returned to the field in full uniform for the second half but didn't return to the game. Afterward, Sternberger downplayed the injury, referring to it as a sprain.
Aside from Summers and Jones, another rookie who stood out defensively for the Packers was defensive end Kingsley Keke, a sixth-round pick out of Texas A&M. He had a sack and a pass defensed.
In the kicking competition, veteran incumbent Mason Crosby went 1-for-2 on extra points while Sam Ficken made both of his PAT attempts.
“I think that’s the key right there is you’ve got one guy that’s a young kicker and the other guy that’s years of experience,” LaFleur said. “Certainly, I think it’s been a close competition throughout.”