What did it mean? Packers-Saints preseason game recap

Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis celebrated his fifth career preseason touchdown catch with fans during the first half of Green Bay's win over New Orleans.

Mike Roemer/AP

The Green Bay Packers finished up their preseason by letting their backups and roster-bubble players thrash the New Orleans Saints, 38-10, at Lambeau Field.

Rookie quarterback Brett Hundley did his best Aaron Rodgers impression, throwing four touchdown passes to young receivers performing in their last Green Bay audition to make the team and help fill the large void left by injured Jordy Nelson. The Packers finished their preseason 2-2, several unproven players looked good — or at least serviceable as backups — and the team avoided any more major injuries.

Still, after losing one of the offense’s most important players for the season — Nelson tore his ACL against the Steelers and was placed on injured reserve — looking back at the preseason with positivity feels like a football team’s version of "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

But the exhibitions are ended and the regular season is upon us. First, of course, the NFL’s final cut-down to the 53-man roster. Some players turned heads and made jaws drop on Thursday night against the Saints; others caused fans’ heads to drop and made coaches clench their jaws.

Let’s delve into the preseason finale and find out what we may have found out in the victory.

5 things we learned

— Hundley, a fifth-round rookie who struggled early in training camp but came on strong the last couple weeks, proved himself a proficient pro QB against the Saints and will challenge Scott Tolzien for the backup job next year.

— Undrafted rookie receiver Larry Pinkard, who caught a 10-yard slant pass from Hundley and took it 77 yards for his first NFL touchdown, can really run.

— Embattled Tim Masthay, who has battled competition, criticism and poor performance throughout the preseason but was very good Thursday, is still able to punt.

Packers 38, Saints 10

— Conversely, his friend, kicker Mason Crosby, who had been superhuman during training camp, does in fact have a field-goal distance limit, as he was well short on a 66-yard attempt just before halftime.

— Safety Chris Banjo, who’s been a core special teamer since 2013 but is on the bubble, probably earned himself a roster spot with an impressive performance against the Saints, notching five tackles, two passes defensed and an interception (all while Demetri Goodson, also battling for a defensive-back spot, sat out injured).

4 things we still don’t know

— Who will be the third-string running back? John Crockett (eight carries for 42 yards and a 15-yard touchdown run against New Orleans, plus four catches for 49 yards) and Rajion Neal (five for 20, plus four for 20) are probably ahead of Alonzo Harris (13 carries for 41 yards, no catches), but it’s anyone’s guess which way the Packers are leaning.

— Does receiver Jared Abbrederis, who missed all of the preseason until Thursday with a concussion after sitting out all of last year with a knee injury, have a future in Green Bay? For that matter, can the former Wisconsin Badgers star, who caught just one pass for 6 yards and had three punt returns for 35 yards, be a playmaker in the NFL?

— Did reserve offensive tackle Josh Walker, who was on the practice squad last year and was considered a good bet to make the 53-man roster after a strong training camp, hurt his chances Thursday by allowing the Saints’ only sack?

— Behind Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless, who is the No. 3 tight end? The three players vying for that spot — Kennard Backman, Justin Perillo and Mitchell Henry — combined for two catches on three targets for 31 yards. Talk about ending on a quiet note.

3 key stats

— For the preseason, Hundley led all quarterbacks in touchdowns (7), pass average (9.7 yards) and passer rating (129.6). He finished second in yards (630).

— Against the Saints, Masthay punted four times for 172 yards (43.0 average), including a 52-yard long and two punts inside the 20.

Photo Gallery

— In eight career preseason games, speedy second-year wide receiver Jeff Janis has caught five touchdown passes, including three this year. He had a 14-yard score on Thursday.

2 top performances

— Third-year wide receiver Myles White, vying to make the regular-season opening roster for the first time, had four receptions for 46 yards and two touchdowns against New Orleans. He finished the preseason as the Packers’ leading receiver, with 16 catches for 157 yards.

— Second-year defensive lineman Bruce Gaston had two quarterback hits against the Saints, bringing his total to four in the final three preseason games (including one sack).

1 big moment

— As has so often been the case for the Packers in preseason and the regular season, the big moment Thursday was a long pass play. With Pinkard, who’s battling White, Abbrederis and Ed Williams for the presumptive fifth receiver spot, lined up to the right, Hundley dropped back and fired a quick strike to the slanting wideout. Pinkard caught the pass, ran past a couple of Saints defenders in the middle of the field and then won the 50-yard footrace to the end zone.

Next: The Packers must cut their roster down to 53 players by 3 p.m. CT on Saturday. On Sept. 13, they open the regular season against the Bears in Chicago.

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