Rookie cornerback Micah Hyde was beaten for a touchdown last night
Six questions were posed prior to last night’s preseason opener against the Cards. After watching and then re-watching the game (talk about a glutton for punishment), here are the answers – at least based on one night:
1) Does Johnny Jolly have anything left? It was nice to see No. 97 back on the field for the first time in over three years, but as expected, he’s rusty. While he did make a few plays in the second half against guys who’ll be working at Target next month, he didn’t accomplish much in the first 30 minutes against legitimate NFL offensive linemen. He seems to be carrying some bad weight and he doesn’t have the initial thrust he had prior to being suspended. He’s not going to beat out C.J. Wilson, so unless injuries pop up or the Packers decide to keep seven defensive linemen, I don’t see this comeback story having a happy ending. Things might’ve been a whole lot different had he had more time to prepare for training camp.
2) Can B.J. Coleman play at this level? I can’t answer that question based solely on last night. By the time he entered the game in the fourth quarter, Greg Van Roten and Kevin Hughes were the tackles, Garth Gerhart was the center, Angelo Pease was the running back and Alex Gillett, Justin Wilson and Omarius Hines were the wide receivers. Johnny Unitas couldn’t move an offense surrounded by that array of “talent.” The best thing that happened to him last night was Graham Harrell, who stunk it up once again.
3) Will David Bakhtiari continue his strong play? So far so good for the rookie. He looked pretty darn solid for a 21-year-old making his first NFL start in front of 73,738 fans. There’s no question that his lack of size and strength will be an issue at times this season, but his technique and balance are so good that he should be able to hold his own against most defensive linemen. And while he works to finish off his blocks better than any tackle since Ross Verba, he’s probably a year in the weight room away from turning that effort into consistent results. All in all, he was one of the few positives from last night.
4) Is Micah Hyde ready for a big role on D? The fifth-round pick opened the game as the starting nickel back. He stuck his nose in against the run, and other than a couple of times when speedy Jaron Brown exposed his man-cover limitations, he did OK. If he keeps progressing, he should be an upgrade from Charles Woodson and Jerron McMillian in the dime package. Hyde figures to be the No. 5 cornerback this season, but I still think his future is at safety. There’s a reason he played almost 10 yards off the line of scrimmage in the base. He simply lacks the top-end speed to run vertically with many wide receivers.
5) Can Tyrone Walker keep getting open? He was by far the most impressive of the rookie and first-year wide receivers, although that’s like saying Kourtney is the smartest Kardashian or Paris is the most talented Hilton. But seriously, I can see why my buddy Drew Wagner is so impressed with this slow little player from the Missouri Valley Conference. He’s quick off the line of scrimmage and he understands how to create space for himself. Whether he can do that against a better caliber of cornerbacks is what GM Ted Thompson and the coaches will be trying to find out in the next few weeks.
6) Who’s the new EDS? Van Roten played guard, center and even right tackle last night and he didn’t embarrass himself at any of the three positions. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he was just OK going up against players who’ll either be deep reserves or telemarketers a month from now. He appears bigger after a year in the weight room and he’s scrappy as hell, but he looked a little confused at times in pass protection and he struggled to sustain blocks in the running game. It wouldn’t shock me if he becomes Evan Dierich-Smith down the road, but right now he should be a No. 3 center and/or a No. 4 guard.
Et cetera… Marshall Newhouse gave up a sack to pass rush specialist John Abraham that caused a fumble, but the fourth-year tackle actually played pretty well. He more than held his own against Calais Campbell, one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL, and he was surprisingly effective in the run game. Newhouse sustained his blocks and actually got his man to the ground a few times… Davon House is a better player then he showed last night, but like I’ve been saying for the past two years, he’s stiff through his hips and lower body. That’s why I suggested moving him to safety. If he gains a few pounds, he has a chance to be really effective at that position. Otherwise, I see him becoming nothing more than an average corner… Rookie Johnathan Franklin has a lot to learn about being a returner. He needs to be more decisive and stop dancing around. He looked like a player who had never returned a kick or punt in his life before last night, which of course, was pretty much the case… Mike McCarthy is a pro football coach who has worked with Joe Montana, Rich Gannon, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. I’m a teacher whose closest encounter with a great quarterback came in the late 1980s when I rode in an elevator with Phil Simms. So why is it that I knew Graham Harrell would never be an effective player the first time I saw him practice and McCarthy has wasted over three years on him?