The Packers gave a ton of snaps to their newest cornerback to see if he fits on the roster, while a young wide receiver stepped up with a big game.
The Green Bay Packers may have lost 23-14 to the New York Jets on Saturday afternoon, but the team got plenty of good tape on young players fighting for roster spots or positioning on the team’s depth chart. One such player was quarterback Kurt Benkert, who made a strong case for a roster spot as a third player at the position behind Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love.
But along with his performance was that of his favorite receiver on Saturday, Malik Taylor. The second-year Packer led the team in receiving and made a number of impressive catches as he staked a strong claim to a roster spot.
On the other side of the football, the Packers took a very long look at Isaac Yiadom, their latest acquisition in the secondary. Yiadom, who came over from the New York Giants in a trade for Josh Jackson, led the cornerbacks in snaps as the team tried to get a feel for what he can do and if he fits on the 53. Results were mixed, so expect Yiadom to play a substantial amount again next week.
Here’s a look at the playing time from Saturday.
OFFENSE (62 total plays)
Kurt Benkert 59, Jake Dolegala 3
The Packers seem to have something in Benkert, who managed the offense well throughout about three quarters. He showed a great deal of control on a touchdown drive in the second quarter in particular, a 19-play, 81-yard drive that took over ten minutes off the clock. On that series, he converted four third-down chances and one fourth-down opportunity, eventually finding Jace Sternberger in the end zone for a third-down touchdown.
All told, Benkert completed 18 of 25 passes for 151 yards and that touchdown. His only glaring mistake was a misfired pass to running back Patrick Taylor late in the game; that ball was behind Taylor, who was running a slant, and it landed in the Jets’ arms for an interception.
Dolegala, re-signed a week ago after Jordan Love’s injury, played on only the final series and threw one pass, which was intercepted.
Patrick Taylor 24, Dexter Williams 16, Kylin Hill 15, AJ Dillon 7
The opening drive of the game was the Dillon and Hill show. Dillon posted 4 carries and 28 yards on that series, bowling over many members of the Jets’ starting defense. Hill finished that series off with 12-yard touchdown on which he stiff-armed a defensive lineman in the backfield before getting to the corner and speeding up the sideline to the end zone. Hill would finish the day with 7 carries for 29 yards and added two receptions for 11 more yards.
Taylor ran hard in this game with 8 carries for 48 yards and added a catch for another 7 yards. Williams gained just 22 yards on 8 carries, but he did add a nice 32-yard kickoff return at one point.
Reggie Begelton 49, Malik Taylor 44, Amari Rodgers 43, Damon Hazelton 20
Taylor looks like a bona fide NFL receiver, making contested catches and great in-air adjustments to the football. It’s easy to see him as the sixth wide receiver on this team, particularly with his ability to contribute on special teams. Taylor led the team with four catches and 66 yards.
Rodgers also posted four receptions, though for just 31 yards. He also received a toss on an end-around that looked nifty, but gained just two yards. Look for that play to be in Matt LaFleur’s back pocket in the future, however.
The other notable contribution came from Begelton, who caught two balls for 15 yards, both to move the chains on third downs. His big play was as a punt returner, however, when he picked up 28 yards with a nice burst.
Bronson Kaufusi 34, Jace Sternberger 34, Daniel Crawford 24
With their top four tight ends sitting, the Packers turned to this trio with Sternberger and Kaufusi taking most of the in-line snaps while Kaufusi and Crawford also lined up in the backfield. Sternberger had the touchdown reception, but also had a tough drop over the middle. Crawford had the only other target at the position, a 4-yard reception.
Ben Braden 62, Yosh Nijman 46, Jon Runyan, Jr. 35, Lucas Patrick 35, Royce Newman 35, Jake Hanson 27, Cole Van Lanen 27, Jacob Capra 16, Coy Cronk 16, Josh Myers 11
The starting offensive line from left to right consisted of Nijman, Runyan, Myers, Newman, and Braden. The entire first drive, the Packers ran the ball up the right side behind Newman and Braden, with tremendous success from Dillon and Hill.
Newman was solid for much of the game, with his only notable mistakes coming when he stepped on Benkert’s foot on back-to-back plays in the third quarter. Braden played both right tackle and guard in this game, as did Van Lanen, who looked solid. Nijman bounced back from allowing a strip-sack of Jordan Love in the first game to post a better performance in game two, one that drove Matt LaFleur to say he has “put himself in a pretty good position.”
Nijman did give way late in the game to Coy Cronk, who came on at left tackle to start the fourth quarter. On his first two snaps, he false started then whiffed on a block on 3rd and 8 that led to a pressure on Benkert.
DEFENSE (54 total plays)
Willington Previlon 38, T.J. Slaton 37, Jack Heflin 34, Carlo Kemp 13, Kingsley Keke 12, Josh Avery 5
The Packers rolled with Previlon, Slaton, and Heflin for much of this game once again, though they worked in Keke for a bit of preseason work as well, likely to get him used to game speed. Keke had a solid pressure on Jets QB Zach Wilson, while Slaton recorded the Packers’ only sack. Heflin added a pair of QB hits and four tackles as he continues his strong bid to make the Packers’ 53.
Tipa Galeai 32, Jonathan Garvin 28, Delontae Scott 26, Chauncey Rivers 22
A week after the team kept specific outside linebackers on the field throughout the first half and only substituted at halftime, they rotated through their edge rushers during much of Saturday’s game. All four players saw time on the field in the first half against the Jets’ starting offense, perhaps to get an evaluation on a few of them in light of Za’Darius Smith’s continued absence.
Galeai looks comfortable for an edge rusher in coverage, and he could be a candidate to take some snaps there away from Preston Smith and play more of a Kyler Fackrell role in 2021, should he make the team.
Kamal Martin 27, Isaiah McDuffie 19, Ray Wilborn 15, Ty Summers 14, Oren Burks 12, Krys Barnes 12, De’Jon Harris 9
The Packers rotated inside backers thoroughly in this game, with Barnes and Burks getting the start and giving way to Summers and Martin. Martin recorded a QB hit and a special teams tackle in addition to three tackles on defense, while McDuffie led the team with four solo tackles.
Innis Gaines 45, Henry Black 39, Christian Uphoff 15, Will Redmond 9
The safety group saw both Gaines and Black record six tackles apiece to lead the team, and Black was active on special teams coverage early in the game as well. This group had no Vernon Scott, who played almost every snap of last week’s game, which allowed Gaines to get a much longer look on defense. He made a few solid plays in coverage and allowed a few completions as well, a sign of his youth.
Uphoff did not play much on defense, but he did make an impact on special teams, particularly on punt coverage. He forced a fair catch on one punt, then was pushed to the ground but got up to stop the return man for a gain of just two yards on another.
Isaac Yiadom 42, Kabion Ento 39, Shemar Jean-Charles 23, Ka’Dar Hollman 15, Eric Stokes 12
Less than a week after arriving in Green Bay in a trade for Josh Jackson, Yiadom led the Packers’ corners in snaps in this game as the team tried to get a look at what they have in him. He had a few alignment and assignment issues, but looked passable for much of the game. Ento struggled a bit after a nice opener.
Stokes started the game on the boundary and played just two series, but he showed the short memory that he is becoming known for around the building. Shortly after allowing a first down reception to Corey Davis, Stokes came back and broke on a hitch route on third down, breaking up the pass beautifully and forcing a field goal attempt.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
The Packers left their special teams almost exclusively to their defensive players in this game, as one of the team’s core special teamers from last year on offense did not even see the field on coverage or return units. That was Malik Taylor, who was exclusively used on offense as the team took a long look at the defensive reserves.
Ento 17, Black 15, Gaines 15, McDuffie 15, Yiadom 14, D. Williams 12, Martin 11, Rivers 11