Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers Win Preseason Openers

Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers Win Preseason Openers

The Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers all won their preseason openers on Friday night. Aldo Gandia collected three of our finest Barroom contributors to share their thoughts on the games.

Best Friday night of the year. Three of the four NFC North teams played and while I wish the start times were separated a little more fans of the black and blue were flying high.

The first game of the evening was the Detroit Lions playing at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers


The biggest NFCN beatdown was administered by the Lions. Detroit hammered Pittsburgh’s defense with 379 total yards of offense, while its defense limited the Steelers to 187. The offense also doubled the Steelers’ first down output, 20-10.


The youngsters really made names for themselves tonight. Rookie quarterback Jake Rudock had a nice outing in his NFL debut. Although he wasn’t asked to do much, he looked very comfortable in the pocket and showcased his ability to make plays with his feet. Rudock finished 8-11 passing with one touchdown pass and four rushes for 20 yards. Also very impressive tonight was 7th round draft pick Dwayne Washington and undrafted rookie free agent pick-up Jace Billingsley.  Washington took a 96 yard kickoff return for a touchdown at the start of the 4th quarter and made a name for himself tonight as a possible future return man for the Lions. Billingsley was the story of the game, catching three balls for 33 yards, including a highlight reel touchdown from Rudock.

Let me add that Anquon Boldin made his first catch with the Lions and with it the promise that he’s going to create havoc for defense in the middle of the field. Additionally, Marvin Jones, Jr. made a sweet catch on the sideline. Both of these new receivers figure to play big this season.


Taylor Decker had a miserable first quarter. After getting a holding penalty, Decker allowed James Harrison to blow past him and strip/sack Matthew Stafford, which the Steelers recovered. It’s only his first game, but Decker will have to play better going forward if this offensive line is to improve from last year.

I echo Kyle’s thoughts on Decker. This was not a pretty debut for Bob Quinn’s first draft pick. The Lions opening drive was headed for a touchdown thanks to converting three consecutive third-downs. But, then Decker imploded. The penalty and the sack were jaw droppingly bad.


Dan Orlovsky played the majority of the first half tonight. He had his ups and downs, the downs including one of the worst interceptions you’ll ever see. Aside from that, he looked comfortable and did a good job of avoiding pressure, making some nice reads and throws. With the exception of a few dumb penalties, the defense held up their end of the bargain, making some nice tackles and getting good consistent pressure on the quarterback.

I will add that it’s too early to panic about the Lions offensive line, but it was disconcerting to see Stafford hit twice on blitzes, especially with the Steelers not playing their starting edge rushers Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree. There was much to like about the Lions preseason opener, but that O-line better get its act together.

pack beat browns preseason

The Packers rested an All-Pro line-up of players and still won their first preseason opener. Among the inactive players were Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb on offense with the defense playing without Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.

I asked Packers Barroom contributor Adam Johnson for his thoughts on the game. We begin with the positives.

Adam Johnson’s Positives

What most impressed me about the Packers first preseason game was their special teams play. Mason Crosby nailed two 54 yard field goals and he did it with ease. He added an extra point and none of the ST units allowed big returns. Tim Masthay had an average night with punts of 37, 38 and 43. His challenger for the punting job, Peter Mortell, had punts of 33, 37 and 62. The Packers may have found a new punt returner in the form of Jared Abbrederis who returned one  for 34 yards. However, the star of special teams tonight was their ST ace Chris Banjo who recovered a fumbled punt by Raheem Mostert of the Browns. Overall, I was very impressed with this unit.

On Offense, quarterback Joe Callahan, tailback Brandon Burks and tight end Justin Perillo stood out. Callahan went 16-23 for 124 yards, 1 touchdown and no interceptions. He displayed elusiveness in the pocket and managed the game well. I like his moxie in trying to move the chains rather than throwing the ball away.

Burks had 9 carries for 45 yards ( with a long of 17 ) and showed the willingness to fight for extra yards after contact instead of going to ground.

Perillo had 5 receptions for 52 yards. Every time he’s on the field he manages to make a play and this game was no different, he got open time and time again and more importantly continued his consistent run of catches.

On defense, Carl Bradford and Datone Jones stood out to me. Datone seems to have justified his move to outside linebacker. And while he may not be stout against the run, he continuously got pressure on the quarterback in passing situations and even got a sack. Which only adds to this already deep outside linebacker group. Even though Carl Bradford didn’t get a flashy sack or an interception, he repeatedly put himself in positions to make plays. He made some nice tackles in the open field on passing downs and stuffed the running back on a number of occasions on running downs, which he will need to keep up if he wants to win a roster spot

I will add that Packers defensive back made the play of the game with a gorgeous interception of a Robert Griffen III pass to halt a good looking drive by the Browns

Adam Johnson’s Negatives

I was hoping to get a clearer picture on who will emerge as the  Packers No. 3 receiver, but if anything the whole thing got more murkier. The best receivers of the night were Trevor Davis and Jared Abbrederis, both with two catches for 23 yards. Ty Montgomery had one catch for 7 yards, Davante Adams had no catches, Jeff Janis and Randall Cobb did not play and even our best receiver in camp so far, Geronimo Allison had only one catch for 10 yards. While it is just preseaon and they were being thrown to by 3rd string quarterback, Joe Callahan, I was hoping to see better results. 63 yards combined for all of the combatants for the third wide receiver role –  especially against a Browns defense minus Joe Haden – is quite worrisome.

I don’t hold quite the same view Adam does on the Packers 3rd receiver slot. In my mind, there’s no doubt that the Packers will start Davante Adams alongside Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. It’s his job to lose and he won’t lose it in a preseason game with Callahan at quarterback.

But, Adam is right that the Packers have a lot of depth a wide receiver and it is disconcerting to not see anyone standout. But, again, Callahan had more to do with that then anything else.

Other Thoughts by Adam Johnson

Callahan has got a clear lead over Marquise Williams for the No.3 quarterback job. Williams had a togh night throwing an interception while going 6/14 for 55 yards.

Burks faces an uphill battle against John Crockett for the No.3 running back position but more performances like the one he had Friday night can only help his chances. Perillo  looks like he has locked down the No. 3 tight end position but Kennard Backman may have something to say about that after catching 3 passes for 28 yards tonight.

My final thoughts… 

Damarious Randall is in a tough battle with Qunten Rollins for a starting cornerback job. He didn’t help himself with this play.

Kyler Fackrell won’t be a starter for the Packers this year, but keep an eye on him. He holds excellent promise.

Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers

The Vikings victory over the Bengals wasn’t the prettiest thing I’ve seen. In fact, it was ugly at times. But, this team is still, in my mmd, has the highest upside of all three NFCN teams. I asked NFCN Barroom Lead Draft Analyst and author of the column Reiding Between The Lines for his thoughts.

We begin with what he liked most…

Jordan Reid on Teddy Bridgewater’s Improved Deep Ball

After a dismal three-and-out on their first drive, the Vikings offense rebounded on their second drive, ending with a Teddy Bridgewater-to-Charles Johnson 49 yard touchdown connection.

Multiple reports surfaced that the third-year QB deep ball has improved tremendously. Bridgewater’s improved deep ball was on full display with a pass that was perfectly placed, ending his night. The 23 year-old finished 6-for-7, 92 yards and a TD.

Jordan Reid on Trae Waynes

Terence Newman missed tonight’s preseason game with an undisclosed injury. With Waynes filling the void in his absence, the second-year cornerback did not disappoint.

After what many considered a “redshirt” season for Waynes in 2015, playing mostly special teams, he showed signs of promise. The Bengals offense tested Waynes early and often, but the former Michigan State product answered the bell with two pass breakups in the first quarter.

With Newman sidelined, Waynes took advantage of the opportunity, showing the franchise that he has the potential of living up to his first-round potential.

Jordan Reid on the Clemson Rookies

In what seemed to be two of the most talked about rookies at training camp, Clemson rookie defensive backs Mackensie Alexander and Jayron Kearse continued to build off the momentum and hype they built in Mankato. The duo registered an interception in their first career NFL games. Alexander’s off a savvy tipped pass, and Kearse with a game clincher.

Throughout the second half, Alexander showed what scouts saw on tape. On multiple occasions, the talented cornerback was on the Bengals receivers hip pocket. Man-to-man coverage being his specialty, the second-round pick showed why some scouts said he was the best cornerback in the entire draft.

Kearse on the other-hand, continued to strengthen his campaign for Mr. Mankato. The 6’4” safety was all over the field. Along with an interception, he registered five tackles (four solo). One of his biggest weaknesses pre-draft was that he was consistently not in on run support, he defied that, as he was not afraid of sticking his helmet in there to stop the Bengals ball carriers.

Jordan Reid on Jeff Locke

In what was considered the Vikings biggest weakness on the team, punter Jeff Locke silenced his critics with a solid pre-season debut. Consistently showing solid hang time and distance on his punts. Locke’s best punt coming on a 61-yarder. The one negative came on a short Locke punt, resulting in a touchdown after several missed tackles.

Vikings General manager Rick Spielman has repeatedly supported Locke, saying that his poor performances were due to “inclement weather” and moving indoors should help the former fifth-round pick tremendously.

Not everything, of course, was peaches and cream. Reid on what disappointed him.

Disappointments – Jordan Reid on Jabari Price

It was a rough day for Price. After Tyler Boyd made a nice 40-yard grab along the sideline, the night went downhill from there for the third-year cornerback. Price just seemed to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time, missing multiple tackles and many evident missed assignments. Already fighting an uphill battle with a loaded backend, Price must improve in the Vikings next preseason game vs. the Seahawks (Aug. 18).

 Jordan Reid on the Team’s Third-Down Defense

In the first quarter, the Vikings defense was atrocious. The Bengals offense marched down the field and in what appeared to be a “bend but don’t break” philosophy, they managed to hold them scoreless after a Mike Nugent 49-yard missed field goal.

Seemingly the longest drive in NFL history, the Bengals put together a 22-play, 89-yard drive that ultimately resulted in zero points. Mike Zimmer’s defense just could not get off the field, nor keep QB’s Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron from converting third downs.

Jordan Reid on the Vikings Offensive Line

One of the biggest question marks entering the first pre-season game, the Vikings offensive line did nothing to silence those critics. With a quick three-and-out on their first offensive series of the game, similar to 2015, QB Teddy Bridgewater was struggling to stay up-right. Luckily, the elusive signal-caller was able to elude a sack from defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Center John Sullivan struggled mightily, as well as tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith.

Other Thoughts by Jordan Reid

Rookie tight end David Morgan continued to show his blocking ability in the running game, and he also showed his soft hands in the passing game. The UTSA product caught every pass that was thrown his way, finishing with three catches for 38 yards. With TE Rhett Ellison sidelined, look for Morgan to continue being a factor in the running and passing attack.

WR Laquon Treadwell showed the strength and strong hands that scouts raved about. The 2016 first-round pick finished with four catches for 41 yards, including breaking a couple tackles.

LB Emmanuel Lamur was all over the field, leading the Vikings defense in tackles (eight). Playing against the team that let him walk in the off-season, the 26 year-old seemed to be flying around the field with an extra chip on his shoulders. He showed flashes of being the teams outside linebacker of the future.

RB C.J. Ham was a pleasant surprise, as he entered the game in the third quarter, running hard. The small-school product out of Augustana went on to score his first career NFL touchdown, capping off a 10-play, 74-yard drive to give the Vikings a 17-7 lead in the third quarter. Ham finished the night with 35 yards, on 12 carries.

Many thanks to Kyle – @kyle_mallett– Adam – @PackersFans_ and Jordan @JReidDraftScout.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on the Chicago Bears opening preseason game loss… click below.

Bears Bounced Badly By Broncos In Preseason Opener

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Aldo Gandia

Aldo Gandia

Among my career highlights I have produced two films while in high school that received nationwide attention; leaned out of a helicopter over the Gulf of Suez at the age of 20 to shoot movies of oil rigs; won an Emmy award for a sports special and another for a kid's fitness show; and led a team of very talented creative professionals to produce break-through corporate communications.

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