Coach Mike McCarthy wants to win Saturday’s game at St. Louis. That, however, is not the overriding goal as the Green Bay Packers get ready for their second preseason game.
“We’re a young football team, and we’ve been a young football team since Day 1 here,” McCarthy said following Thursday’s practice. “It’s the way we’re built, it’s the way we’re designed, it’s the way we train, it’s the way we plan, as far as how the offseason program is laid out, how we practice, the extra meeting time with the younger players.
“With that being said, we have to get these guys ready to play and we’ve got to find out how well they can play and who’s going to be on our team, so it’s really as simple as that. I want to win the game, don’t get me wrong. We’re going to St. Louis and we want to win the game but, more importantly, we have to make sure we create opportunities to get our football team evaluated.”
From a big-picture perspective, the Packers played terribly in Friday’s 17-0 loss to Arizona. In reality, most of the problems were from the second- and third-teamers on offense. Green Bay managed 233 yards and 13 first downs. The No. 1 offense tallied 86 yards and three first downs on its only possession. The backups posted 147 yards and 10 first downs on their 10 possessions. During the second half, the offense took three snaps on Arizona’s side of the 50. Defensively, they allowed touchdowns off of both giveaways and didn’t force a turnover.
“Clearly, our performance as a football team, from the first preseason game, (we) need to improve,” McCarthy said. “I want to see a big improvement in the offense. I was disappointed in how the offense graded out. Defense graded out and special teams a little better in that specific area. Once again we’re going to try to play everybody. We’ll go through that in detail tomorrow. I want to make sure everybody has an opportunity, but we need to play a lot better, we need to be a lot more productive than we were this past week.”
New injuries: C Evan Dietrich-Smith (toe); CB Sam Shields (illness).
Shields dropped out of practice, as McCarthy colorfully discussed, though he should be fine for Saturday. “It’s kind of funny, I shouldn’t say this in a press conference, I actually used the restroom after Sam, so I think he’s OK now.”
Without Dietrich-Smith, Greg Van Roten took the No. 1 reps at center. McCarthy wasn’t sure if Dietrich-Smith would be fine for Saturday or if the line would be handed over to Van Roten. We’ll have more on Van Roten before the game.
Old injuries: WR Charles Johnson (knee), WR Randall Cobb (bicep), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), CB Tramon Williams (knee), OL J.C. Tretter (broken ankle), LT Bryan Bulaga (knee), OT Derek Sherrod (leg), TE Andrew Quarless (quad), WR Jordy Nelson (knee), DE Datone Jones (ankle), DE Jerel Worthy (ACL).
At running back, DuJuan Harris (knee) was limited at practice and will not play. Eddie Lacy (hamstring)’s availability will be determined on Friday morning, though McCarthy was hopeful.
Back from injuries: RB James Starks (illness), OT/G Andrew Datko (concussion).
— Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio each made their two field-goal attempts, with Crosby hitting from 40 and 42 yards and Tavecchio from 43 and 36. This week, Tavecchio went 18-of-18 and Crosby 17-of-18.
— For the second day in a row, Micah Hyde made a big-time interception. This time, with Hyde playing underneath coverage around the goal line, he picked off a B.J. Coleman bullet intended for Tyrone Walker in the back of the end zone.
— The team is off on Friday and will face St. Louis at 7 p.m. on Saturday. After an off day on Sunday, the Packers practice at 11:30 a.m. on Monday (shells), 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday (pads) and 11 a.m. on Wednesday (pads).
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.