BALTIMORE – Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur isn’t concerned about the health of his two-time MVP quarterback.
But Green Bay’s tackling on defense is another matter. That was on his mind the most following a 26-13 preseason loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
LaFleur held out Aaron Rodgers as a precautionary measure when his back tightened up, bypassing the chance for the No. 1 offense to all work together in a game setting for the first time in order to play it safe.
“No long-term concerns,” LaFleur said after the game. “I don’t want to put him at risk putting him out there when he’s not 100 percent.”
Asked if he’d like to get Rodgers some preseason work before the month is out, LaFleur was noncommittal.
“I think we’d like to see him, but you’re talking about a veteran quarterback who’s played a lot of football,” he said. “It’s not a necessity, but it’s certainly something we’d like to see.”
The Green Bay Packers traveled to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium.
LaFleur also wanted to see his defense tackle better after missing 24 tackles in the preseason opener a week ago. He won’t have a final number this time until he goes through the film, but whether it was the starting defense trying to corral elusive Ravens QB Lamar Jackson or the reserves keeping Baltimore’s running game in check, LaFleur was not pleased.
The Ravens piled up 171 yards on the ground using a boatload of different running backs to produce six scoring drives, including four Justin Tucker field goals.
“I thought there were a lot of missed tackles out there,” LaFleur said. “It’s not good enough.
“We have to do a better job in practice, probably up the intensity level a little bit, really wrap up on the thud.”
The starting defense held Jackson and the Ravens’ top offensive unit to two field goals, with the help of a penalty that wiped out a scrambling TD run by Jackson.
DeShone Kizer started at quarterback for Rodgers and led one drive for a field goal after a couple of misfires on third and fourth down curtailed what looked like a promising opening possession.
Kizer finished 5-for-10 for 70 yards directing the No. 1 offense that played everyone except Rodgers and running back Aaron Jones (hamstring tightness), who also was held out as a precaution.
Rookie inside linebacker Curtis Bolton, who started in place of the injured Oren Burks, acquitted himself well with six total tackles, including one for loss and two on special teams.
Bolton’s interception off a pass deflected by cornerback Tony Brown set up a field goal right before halftime, but a fumbled exchange between QB Tim Boyle and rookie running back Derrick Williams inside the Green Bay 10-yard line gave the Ravens an easy touchdown.
That type of sloppiness was evident in the nine penalties called against the Packers (with others declined) for 67 yards, the second straight preseason game with a lot of flags. LaFleur did question a couple of them on offense, though, particularly two that wiped out productive runs for a ground game that otherwise struggled.
“I thought the two runs we popped, again, I’ll have to go back and look at it to see if it’s worth turning in (to the league),” he said.
The Packers gained just 55 yards on the ground, but that included a 28-yard burst by Darrin Hall. Aside from that, the running backs combined for just 27 yards on 16 carries.
Boyle (12-for-21, 107 yards) did direct one touchdown drive, capping it with a TD toss to rookie receiver Darrius Shepherd, but offensively it was a tough slog most of the game.
Receivers Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow were the most productive, with three catches each for a combined 115 yards. But even the sure-handed Kumerow had a rare drop over the middle.
“If you want to score points in this game it’s about getting explosive plays,” LaFleur said. “That’s where we’re struggling as an offense.
“There was some good, and there’s a lot of stuff that we can learn from. Not all of it when we didn’t score was (the QBs’) fault. We had a couple busts on third down. I think we were 3-of-12 on third down. That’s not good enough.”