Summer School: What We Learned

School is back in session, with Professor Roerdink dispensing the lessons after Saturday's 31-21 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Topping his lesson plan: another big night by Aaron Rodgers.

Welcome back to the summer edition of's "Sunday School." Each week, we'll take a look back on the Packers' most recent matchup and give you five key lessons. Today, we get inside Green Bay's impressive 31-21 victory over the Buffalo Bills.


1.) Rodgers is making this look easy

Yes, it's the preseason. Yes, Green Bay played Buffalo. But that said, Aaron Rodgers is giving people reason to get very, very excited about the upcoming season. In a little more than a quarter of play, Rodgers looked nearly perfect, going 8-for-9 with two touchdowns while leading the team on three touchdown drives in four possessions. His quarterback rating, naturally, was a nearly perfect 151.6. Over two weeks, he's hit on 13-of-19 passes for 200 yards with three touchdowns and zero picks.

Yes, it's the preseason. Yes, it was against Buffalo. But once again, Rodgers looked comfortable, confident and in command of the offense. Moreover, he looks like he's having fun. At least more fun than a certain gunslinger who went 1-for-4 for 4 yards on Friday night with the Vikings.

If you haven't had your fantasy football draft yet, don't be afraid to make Rodgers the first quarterback to come off the board. There's every reason to believe the past two weeks have been a preview of what's to come.

2.) Poppinga isn't letting go of his OLB spot anytime soon

When the Packers moved back into the first round of April's draft to select Clay Matthews III, it was assumed that the competition for the linebacking spot opposite Aaron Kampman was a formality. But starting spots in training camp, much like games during the season, never have been won on paper. When Matthews missed time with a bad hamstring and the co-No. 1 at right outside linebacker, Jeremy Thompson, went down as well, the coaches were forced to move Brady Poppinga from the left side to the right.

But Poppinga doesn't get the position by consolation. He earned it by making the most of his opportunities — like the interception and fumble recovery he had against Buffalo. You'll recall that Poppinga was supposed to lose his starting spot last year when the Packers signed Brandon Chillar from the St. Louis Rams. That didn't happen, either. Poppinga has always had a nonstop motor, great work ethic and been a great guy in the locker room. What he hasn't always been is a guy who could cover a tight end or come up with a big, game-changing play. It looks like the latter is quickly changing.

Any thoughts about Poppinga being on the trading block seem to have evaporated.

3.) Eenie, Meenie, Mynie, Kapinos?

In the preseason opener, Durant Brooks hit the team's only put of the night. But with a hip flexor injury keeping him on the sideline, Jeremy Kapinos took the stage alone against Buffalo and cracked off five punts. He placed two inside the 20-yard line and had a solid 43.2-yard average. His hang times, however, were less than consistent, ranging from a lofty 5 seconds to a subpar 3.5.

Given the team's struggles with field position a year ago and the nightmare known as "The Derrick Frost Experiment," there's reason to believe that the Packers' punter for the season-opener against the Bears is booting for someone else. Kapinos and Brooks will have at least one more game to state their case.

4.) Sutton is forcing his way onto the roster

RB Tyrell Sutton
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
After an 11-carry, 49-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Bills, it's becoming obvious that running back Tyrell Sutton is way too good to clear waivers if the Packers were to cut him in hopes of putting him on the practice squad. Not bad for the little free agent out of Northwestern, who remains one of the biggest stories of the summer. Sutton has a shake-and-bake shiftiness to him that Green Bay's other backs — starter Ryan Grant included — just don't have. The results: 140 yards on 27 carries through two games.

That's not to say he'll push Grant for carries, but he will push his way on to a roster that includes Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn as backups. Kregg Lumpkin could be the odd man out. And as for the players in front of him, they might want to check over their shoulder for the 5-foot-8 fireball.

5.) Stats not the story in Raji's debut

No sacks, no tackles, no big deal. Green Bay's first-round pick, B.J. Raji, may not have found his name on the final defensive stats sheet, but the big defensive lineman found a way to make an impact in his first action as a Packer.

Not exactly drafted for his cover skills, Raji showed good athleticism dropping into coverage as part of a zone blitz on his first play. The very next play, he showed the kind of Hulk-ish play he was drafted for when he rocked Bills rookie guard Eric Wood back on his heels. He started the second quarter by putting veteran center Geoff Hangartner on his back as quarterback Trent Edwards got flushed from the pocket.

Raji spent most of his time at left end, and played defensive tackle in the nickel. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg, but it's a big iceberg, and this one is going to do some damage.

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W. Keith Roerdink has covered the Packers since 1992. E-mail him at

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