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A soggy start for the Pack

by Mark Daniels

The 2014 Packers Pre-Season began in a Nashville, Tennessee monsoon. The night ended with the Titans defeating the Pack 20-16. Head Coach Mike McCarthy wasn't the least bit upset. Playing in a downpour brought memories of being a kid and he learned a lot about his team and several players in the process.

Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and Jordy Nelson were healthy scratches going in. McCarthy said Rodgers has had a great training camp and likely would have played only one series anyway. He wanted to make sure the other three quarterbacks got in the work, especially 4th stringer Chase Rettig who was given the entire fourth quarter.

Even without the big stars, the first offense drove 64 yards in the driving rain on the opening series. James Starks carried six times for 49 yards, the last 20 opened the scoring. Cutting behind J.C. Tretter making his starting debut at center, following fullback John Kuhn with a good block, Starks cut to his right behind a nice downfield block from rookie Richard Rodgers to put Green Bay up 7-0 just 4:26 into the game.

Second round pick Davante Adams got the first look as the punt returner and it may be his last. He muffed his first attempt but got a generous bounce to recover. He muffed his second chance and the Titans recovered at the Green Bay 13. On the next snap, Shon Green scampered 13 yards for a touchdown. Tennessee missed the extra point, kicking from the 33 on the NFL's experimental PAT rule the first two weeks of the Pre-Season.

Neither team was able to mount a scoring threat before the half. Jarrett Bush came up with a big sack of Charlie Whitehurst to push the Titans out of field goal range. Taking over at the 13, Scott Tolzien hurried the offense into Tennessee territory but he was sacked on the final play of the half.

Tolzien opened the third quarter and found Chris Harper wide open for a 37 yard gain that set up Rajion Neal's 12 yard touchdown run. The play was upheld on replay. McCarthy decided to go for two but Harper couldn't reel in a fade pass.

The Titans answered on the next series, helped by a pass interference call on rookie Demetri Goodson. Whitehurst found Bishop Sankey on a five yard swing pass that tied the game at 13.

The backup defense came up with a couple of takeaways in the 4th quarter. Jumal Rolle strip sack of Whitehurst led to a fumble recovery by Jake Doughty. Rettig couldn't move the offense and the Pack punted. Pinned deep, Korey Jones then made a play, intercepting a pass that glanced off the hand of Jackie Battle. The offense went nowhere but Mason Crosby pounded through a 32 yard field goal for a 16-13 lead.

The defense got leaky, giving up that lead in a handful of snaps. Chase Coffman and Brian Robiske got behind linebackers for a pair of big plays and Battle's touchdown run put the Titans up 20-16.

Thanks to a 41 yard pass interference penalty, Rettig had a chance to strike for the win but a 4th and 1 shot pass up the left sideline to Kevin Dorsey was underthrown in the final minute.

By the numbers, the Packers outgained the Titans 294-267. Green Bay picked up 146 yards rushing, Starks had 49 on six carries, Neal gained 39 on 5. LaDarius Perkins carried 10 times but for only 18 yards. Tolzien finished 8 of 12 for 123 yards, Matt Flynn wasa 5 of 10 for 49 and Rettig completed one ball in three attempts for 10 yards. Dorsey had a team high 3 catches for 23 yards, Harper had two grabs for 55 yards.

The only injuries noted by McCarthy after the game were knee injuries to Rajion Neal and linebacker Joe Thomas.

The team will have both Sunday and Monday off and head back on the road next Saturday to meet the Rams in St. Louis in a 3:00 PM kickoff.