Originally written on Packer Update  |  Last updated 11/15/14

Rookie wide receiver Jarrett Boykin caught 5 passes against Cleveland

The title of this post pays homage to Notes On a Scandal - one of the most underrated movies in recent years (in fact, I should’ve watched it again rather than waste over three hours of my life on whatever that mess was last night). Anyway, here are 5 thoughts from the Packers’ 35-10 loss to Cleveland:

1) Rookie receiver Jarrett Boykin did what neither Diondre Borel nor Tori Gurley has been able to do this summer – he stepped up. The former Virginia Tech star does not have explosive top-end speed, but he has reliable hands, tracks the ball well and can adjust to off-line throws. If any young receiver deserves a spot on the final 53, it’s Boykin. That said, I still expect him to start the season on the practice squad.

2) There’s no question Andrew Datko is getting better. He gave up the inside a few times in the second quarter, but for the most part, he did a solid job at left tackle. If the rookie keeps improving, he should find a spot on the final roster. But he won’t play this season unless there’s an emergency. He needs a year in the weight room before he’s ready to contend with some of the stud pass rushers in the NFC North.

3) It’s still very early, but so far the inside pass rush doesn’t look much better than it did a year ago. Rookie Jerel Worthy has plateaued after a fast start. The former Michigan State star has a really quick first step, but that’s been far more effective in one-on-one drills at Nitchke Field than it’s been in the first two exhibition games. He’s been slow to shed blocks and he needs to use his hands a lot better. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a 22-year-old kid, but the Packers really need him to come through this season.

4) I hate to compare any second-year player with three career starts to five-time Pro Bowler Sam Mills, but I think it’s warranted in the case of D.J. Smith. He’s one of the most instinctive inside linebacker I’ve seen in a long time. He reads his keys fast and is quick to make zone drops. Whether he’s athletic enough to keep up with quality backs and tight ends in coverage remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

5) After watching Jerron McMillian at practice a few weeks ago, I praised the hard-hitting rookie safety. He then proceeded to struggle in the preseason opener in San Diego. But last night against Cleveland, the former Maine star looked like the player I saw earlier this month. He was a physical presence near the line of scrimmage, blowing up a pair of runs in the second quarter. That’s clearly the strength of his game right now, but he has the athletic ability to be a complete safety. It’s just going to take some time.

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