Thirty-six players – including the Green Bay Packers’ official starter at left guard – sat out the team’s 27-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.
As if it matters, the Packers finished the preseason 2-2. What matters is seven days from now, when the Packers kick off the NFL’s 100th season on Thursday night in Chicago.
Green Bay scored the winning touchdown with 6:29 left in the fourth quarter. Rookie quarterback Manny Wilkins, who has almost no chance to make the 53-man roster, hurdled a Chiefs defender on a 12-yard run to set up a first-and-goal from 6. Rookie running back Dexter Williams scored on a 3-yard run, getting a key block from guard Dejon Allen – who was signed earlier in the day. A 21-yard screen to Williams was the key play.
Starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t play a single snap in the preseason. Who will be his backup against Chicago? Tim Boyle got his second consecutive start. In three series, he was 3-of-6 passing for 18 yards and one touchdown. DeShone Kizer played four series and was 8-of-15 for 77 yards with one touchdown and one interception. For the duration of the preseason, Boyle was 34-of-57 (59.6 percent) for 356 yards with six touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 112.9 passer rating. Kizer was 25-of-45 (55.5 percent) for 273 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 70.0 rating. On the scoreboard, Boyle put up 52 points compared to Kizer’s 17.
After the game, LaFleur was not prepared to pick a winner.
Speaking of roster battles, in a pregame interview with the Packers Radio Network, coach Matt LaFleur announced Lane Taylor had held off second-round pick Elgton Jenkins for the starting job at left guard. In his postgame press conference, LaFleur pointed to a “comfort factor” with Taylor. It was the only starting position up for grabs during training camp.
The Packers got their tails kicked for the first 17-plus minutes but took a 6-3 lead when a pair of rookies teamed up for a defensive touchdown. Outside linebacker Markus Jones knifed through two blockers and drilled rookie quarterback Kyle Shurmur. The ball fluttered into the hands of inside linebacker Ty Summers, who returned it 74 yards for a touchdown. Mason Crosby missed the extra point.
Two plays later, the Chiefs botched a read-option exchange, with Jones pouncing on the loose ball at the Chiefs’ 29. The Packers parlayed that into a touchdown on Boyle’s bootleg touchdown pass to rookie tight end Jace Sternberger. It was Boyle’s sixth touchdown pass of the preseason; he entered the night with a league-leading five.
Kizer threw an interception on his first possession. His wobbling pass, which sailed over second-year receiver J’Mon Moore, set up an easy touchdown that cut the margin to 13-10.
Taking the ball at his 19 with 3:38 remaining in the half, Kizer got the Packers into the end zone just before halftime. Completions of 9 and 20 yards to Teo Redding got the ball rolling, and an interference penalty on an end-zone pass to Redding gave the Packers a first-and-goal at the 1. On the scoring play, Kizer hit tight end Evan Baylis. Baylis had replaced Sternberger, who appeared to injure his left ankle earlier in the drive.