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Packers' victory does have dark side

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Greg A. Bedard and Lori Nickel
August 27, 2010
— When your team scores 59 points -- the most in an exhibition since 1938 -- and rolls up 430 yards, there's isn't a whole lot to get worked up about if you're Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

But three fumbles? That will get under his skin. Even if just one was lost.


''I thought the offense was productive, but ... we didn't do a very good job taking care of the ball," McCarthy said after the 59-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night. "We had the ball on the ground way too many times. So we need to eliminate that from our play."


The Packers have nine fumbles (five lost) in three exhibition game. They had 20 and eight in 16 regular-season games last season.


''It's kind of gone on a little bit too much, talking about in the practices and the preseason," McCarthy said. "We train it every day and we need to get rid of that. So that's the only thing I was really disappointed in offensively."


Ryan Grant had another fumble to go with the one he had against the Cleveland Browns. When the regular season begins, Grant will continue his 291-carry streak without a fumble. The only fumble he had last season came in Week 2, and that was on a pass reception.


Brandon Jackson had one at the Colts' 5-yard line in the second quarter that cost the team points.


Will Blackmon mishandled a punt but was able to recover.


''It's a technique, and that's why you train it every day and we need to do a better job," McCarthy said. "It's a fundamental that we put a lot of emphasis on, like I know everybody does, but we've been good taking care of the football and we're not quite where we need to be right now."


A moment to prove: With rookie Bryan Bulaga sitting out of the game, it was a chance for veteran Daryn Colledge to demonstrate why he should maintain his starting job at left guard.


Colledge played solidly in the pass rush. He might not have gotten the push the Packers were looking for on Rodgers' fourth-and-1 sneak in the first quarter, but otherwise Colledge played how a guard with his experience should.


McCarthy wouldn't say if Colledge had the position locked up.


''That's a discussion we'll have tomorrow as a staff," McCarthy said. "Availability is obviously the most important aspect of your job responsibility and Daryn Colledge has done an excellent job of that throughout his career here and I think Daryn's played good football. I've liked what I've seen so far from Daryn."


If recent history is any indication, Bulaga will use the brief time off to heal and also study his assignments.


Bulaga's college coach, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, recalled a story from the 2007 season, when Bulaga was promoted from backup to starting left guard.


''One Kodak moment for me that really tells you a lot about him is his freshman year, he hurt his shoulder," Ferentz said earlier this week. "We made the decision that he's going to be our starting left guard. He hurt his shoulder that week and missed three or four weeks.


''The day he came back, he was a better player, which is very unusual. The thing that impacted me was how acutely he was paying attention. He was really working and paying attention and improved as a player. He was only a freshman then."


QB duel: This was a good chance to see two top quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, two of only four quarterbacks in the NFL to throw for more than 4,000 yards in each of the last two seasons (the others were San Diego's Philip Rivers and New Orleans' Drew Brees). Manning has also thrown 60 touchdowns over the last two years, Rodgers 58.


Manning was 15 of 26 for 214 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Rodgers was 21 of 29 for 195 yards and three TDs.


In three preseason appearances, Rodgers is 41 of 53 for 470 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions.


All about opportunity: Because of injuries or situations, a couple of Packers got rare chances to start.


Rookie Mike Neal started at right defensive end for Cullen Jenkins, and the coaches are giving undrafted rookie free agent Frank Zombo a look at right outside linebacker.


It was quite the baptism. Neal was among the players -- Brady Poppinga, B.J. Raji and Brandon Chillar were others -- who did not stop Joseph Addai on his 48-yard run early.


Zombo has been battling an ankle sprain, but he tried to put pressure on Manning and did so in the first quarter on a pass that was ultimately broken up by Packers safety Nick Collins. In the third quarter, Zombo forced Manning into a fumble.


Injury update: Cornerback Brandon Underwood suffered a shoulder injury and linebacker Desmond Bishop a hamstring injury. Both did not return.


Defensive end Jarius Wynn suffered a concussion, and linebacker Cyril Obiozor was evaluated for a quadriceps contusion but returned. Running back Quinn Porter had a knee sprain and did not return.


As expected, safety Atari Bigby (ankle), linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring), linebacker Brad Jones (shoulder), Jenkins (calf), cornerback Al Harris (knee) and running back James Starks (hamstring) sat out.


The Packers also rested Allen Barbre (back), Greg Jennings (back spasms) and Brett Swain (knee).


Etc: This was the 50th anniversary of the Bishop's Charities Game, which has raised more than $3.4 million. ...


Before the game, the referee asked Ryan Pickett to call heads or tails. But Manning interjected: "Hey, it's our call." The Colts called heads and won. What happened? A 34-yard return by the Colts, Addai's 48-yard run and an 18-yard pass for a touchdown as the Colts scored in 22 seconds.



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