The Green Bay Packers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 36-19 in the first preseason game of 2023. While the win means nothing in the long run, there were plenty of good things to take away from the Packers’ gameplan and style of play. Of course, the game marked the much anticipated debut of Jordan Love as the team’s starting quarterback (more on that later).
Throughout the course of the game, there were several players that stood out in a positive way by how they impacted the game. Unfortunately, there were also a few others that failed to take advantage of the snaps that they were given.
Green Bay Packers Studs vs the Cincinnati Bengals
What really stood out on Friday night was the fact that the Packers offense was able to put up over 30 points while the defense kept the Bengals out of the end zone. The lone Cincinnati touchdown came on a pick-six thrown by Sean Clifford in the second quarter. Otherwise, the Green Bay defense held the Bengals to just four field goals.
Stud #1- Emanuel Wilson (Running Back)
Running back Emanuel Wilson was signed on May 22 and has not be mentioned often during training camp. However, the undrafted rookie out of Fort Valley State ran six times for 111 yards and two touchdowns. The night was of particular significance as it was the 14th anniversary of the passing of his father.
Wilson (and his fellow running backs) opened up about the significance of his performance on social media after the game.
Stud #2- Jordan Love (Quarterback)
The new starting quarterback in Green Bay only played two series, but he sure looked good while he was out there. After failing to score on their opening drive, Love and the offense marched down the field on the second drive to score.
Love completed his last seven passes, including a touchdown to Romeo Doubs, who has reportedly formed a strong connection with the young quarterback during this past offseason.
Love finished his day 7/10 for 46 yards with that touchdown pass.
Stud #3- Sean Clifford (Quarterback)
Sure, Clifford threw two interceptions (including a pick-six), but the 2023 fifth round NFL Draft pick showed why the Packers were willing to use a draft pick on him to be their backup quarterback. He led three scoring drives (two touchdowns and a field goal) and was decisive with all of his throws.
He finished the night 20/26 for 208 yards (to tight end Tyler Davis, who suffered a significant knee injury later in the contest) with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Stud #4- Carrington Valentine (Cornerback)
The Packers already have a stacked cornerback room that boasts Jaire Alexander, Rasual Douglas, Eric Stokes, and Keisean Nixon. However, after those four, there is a great deal of competition for the fifth (and possibly sixth) cornerback spots. The problem was that none of the other current cornerbacks on the roster seemed to separate themselves from the rest.
That is, until Friday night. Carrington Valentine, a 2023 seventh round NFL Draft pick, had an absolutely brilliant performance. Ahead of the game, he was matched up against Bengals superstar wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the two teams’ joint practice session and held his own.
During the preseason game, Valentine recorded three pass deflections and an interception. Wearing Sam Shields’ number 37, the rookie defensive back brought back memories of the former Pro Bowler and his sticky coverage. He even garnered praise from head coach Matt LaFleur after the game.
Stud #5- Jayden Reed (Wide Receiver)
A 2023 second round NFL Draft pick, Jayden Reed has been expected to be a big contributor for the Packers right out of the gate. On Friday night, he showed why Green Bay has immense expectations for him.
While he only caught two passes (on two targets) for twenty yards, one of his catches were incredible, especially for a player of his size (under six feet tall)
— Packers Total Access- Clayton (@packers_access) August 11, 2023
Reed also drew a 23-yard pass interference penalty that resulted in a Tyler Goodson one-yard rushing touchdown:
jayden reed lolll pic.twitter.com/N4ATsAxWeF
— sydney fink (@sydn3yfink) August 11, 2023
While not a big wide receiver, Reed certainly plays like one. If he can keep making these kinds of plays in the 2023 NFL regular season, the Packers offense will be immensely fun to watch.
Green Bay Packers Duds vs the Cincinnati Bengals
While the Packers won the game handily, not everything in their gameplay was impressive. If they had not been playing against fellow second, third, and fourth string players (and roster hopefuls), the game could have very easily ended up going the other way.
Dud #1- Anders Carlson (Kicker)
The good news: Anders Carlson made his lone field goal attempt, a 45-yarder in the third quarter. The bad news: he missed two extra point attempts.
During and after the game, Packers fans were once again begging the front office to bring back franchise all-time leading scorer Mason Crosby.
The team will not do this as there is one particular thing wrong with Carlson’s misses: they always go wide right. If he was missing kicks to the right and the left, there would be a significant, perhaps unfixable, issue. That being said, missing right consistently indicates a particular issue with his form, one that he can (and will) fix. It will just take time.
Still, missing two extra points is not good.
Dud #2- Lukas Van Ness (Edge Rusher)
Lukas Van Ness, the Packers’ 2023 first round pick, did not record a tackle, pass rush, or any defensive stat in his first professional game. There were times he misread the running backs, allowing for big gains. Green Bay drafted him known he was raw, so this is not really that surprising.
Still, his showing on Friday night highlighted the need Green Bay has for Rashan Gary to return to the field of play as soon as possible. Van Ness will be a great player in the NFL, but he still has some work to do.
Dud #3- Sean Rhyan (Guard)
Sean Rhyan’s NFL career did not get off to a great start. He played all of one snap in 2022 after being drafted in the third round, and then was suspended for using performance enhancing drugs.
Against the Cincinnati Bengals, one of Clifford’s two interceptions was caused by a rushed throw that he needed to make after Rhyan got destroyed on the line of scrimmage. Now, he also had a few nice blocks as well, but that particular play indicated he is still a work in progress.
Dud #4- Royce Newman
Last year, Royce Newman was a starter on the Packers offensive line in Week One. On Friday night, he did not get into the game until the fourth quarter, when the least likely of the roster hopefuls see playing time.
Newman continued to struggled against lesser competition on the Bengals. The chances that he makes the final 53-man roster at this point have to be slim-to-none.
Dud #5- Jonathan Owens
Perhaps it is unfair to put Jonathan Owens here as he did not play very much. He got the start at safety, which has been the norm over the past few practices.
That being said, Owens blew coverage in the first quarter that resulted in a long reception for Trenton Irwin of the Bengals. It was a miscommunication by the defense, but that kind of thing needs to be cleaned up before the regular season begins.
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