ST. LOUIS—The Packers realistically have one more preseason opportunity to prepare themselves for a trip to San Francisco for the season opener. Saturday night, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers defense took a step toward the regular season with a 19-7 win over the St. Louis Rams.
"It was OK," Rodgers said in self-assessment, opting to turn his attention to teammates Jermichael Finley and rookie Eddie Lacy. Along with Rodgers and a defense that pitched two goal-line stands at the Rams, Finley and Lacy were the stars of the Packers' win.
Finley caught four passes for 78 yards and would've probably caught another one and scored had Rodgers not been wild of the mark on that throw. It was one of only two of Rodgers' passes that fell incomplete. He was 10 of 12 for 134 yards in little more than a quarter of action.
Lacy gained 40 yards on eight rushing attempts. His long run of the night was a 15-yarder in which he ran over and through several defenders. It was the kind of run for which the Packers made Lacy their second-round draft pick.
"Jermichael was awesome. He's had a great spring, summer. I'm excited about his progress, Eddie Lacy as well. He ran the ball really well," Rodgers said.
"He doesn't waste any steps," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said of Lacy. "I wanted to make sure he was all the way back from his injuries. That was evident tonight."
What's left to accomplish in the Packers' third preseason game, against visiting Seattle? It could be the last tune up for Rodgers and the Packers' regulars before the opener against the 49ers.
"I'd like to score a touchdown. That's the first priority. We had four good drives; we just need to get more points," Rodgers said.
"We need to get healthy. We had 15 players not playing tonight. I have to get this team in in-season mode," McCarthy said when asked what's left to accomplish before the start of the regular season.
McCarthy added that his priorities in the preseason are, in order, to create opportunities for his players, increase the quality of play and to win the game. The Packers are 1-1 heading into the Seattle game. They were shut out in Week 1 by Arizona, 17-0.
The Packers held a 12-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday. Mason Crosby kicked three field goals in three attempts; Giorgio Tavecchio was one of two, his lone miss having come from 49 yards.
"It's a kicking competition," McCarthy said of Crosby and Tavecchio. "It was important to get them the opportunities; let those guys battle it out."
The Packers defense was clearly the most dominant force in the game. Defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, who's attempting to make a comeback from three years of inactivity due to a substance-abuse suspension, made the big play of the game when he intercepted a pass that had skipped through the hands of cornerback Loyce Means on a third-and-goal play at the Packers 5-yard line.
"Johnny Jolly is a very instinctive football player. For him to make a play like that, he's the perfect guy in that role. It helps him make his case to make our football team. I was very happy for his success tonight," McCarthy said.
Quarterback B.J. Coleman is another player that found success in St. Louis. Coleman rejoined the battle for the backup quarterback job when he led a 75-yard touchdown drive he capped with a 9-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Jake Stoneburner in the fourth quarter. It's the only touchdown the Packers have scored so far in the preseason.
"B.J. did a good job. He did a couple of things at the line of scrimmage. B.J. improved today," McCarthy said.
In the most important week of the preseason, Week 3, one more big step forward is likely necessary for McCarthy to pronounce his team ready for the 49ers. Additional coverage - Aug. 17