Friday, August 22, 2014

Packers vs. Raiders in Preseason Home Opener

The Green Bay Packers play the Oakland Raiders tonight at Lambeau Field, the Pack's first game at home in this preseason schedule. It is the annual Shrine game.

What can we expect? Most of the usual things you expect from the third of four preseason games: more play from the starters, while still seeing plenty of action from those players still trying to make the roster. The first roster cuts need to be made by Monday, taking the roster down to 75 players.

The "more play" from the starters piece will translate differently for each player, of course. While head coach, Mike McCarthy, wouldn't say definitively that QB Aaron Rodgers would play a full half, he did indicate that his playing time had more to do with the number of plays the offense was able to reel off while Rodgers was under center. If the starting offense operates as efficiently as it did in its game last week at St. Louis, Rodgers could very well have an early night.

Packers RB Eddie Lacy in action
(Photo copyright Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Expect also to see more of RB Eddie Lacey who hasn't been on the field that much during either of the two prior games; in fact, he -- like Rodgers and WR Jordy Nelson -- didn't even dress for the first game against the Titans. He's anxious to get some touches and, according to his own comments, make sure his game speed is where it needs to be. No matter how many reps he may get in practice -- including an abundance of sideline work catching passes from running backs coach, Sam Gash -- it's not the same.

Expect to see a lot of Scott Tolzein and Matt Flynn at quarterback tonight, too. According to some sources, it seems likely that the Packers will keep both backup QBs on the final roster. We know all too well what happened last year, and with two able backups behind Rodgers that's a security blanket the Packers need.

The tight end competition is also an area to keep your eyes on. With Brandon Bostick down perhaps through Week 1 of the regular season with a lower leg injury, others will get their chance to show their stuff. Rookie Richard Rodgers is an intriguing prospect there, and second-year player Jake Stoneburner may see more action, too.

At wide receiver, coaches and fans alike got to see last week what rookie Jeff Janis might bring to the table: size and speed. Would really like to see him get some work with Rodgers to see what that pass-catch combination could offer.

The return game, especially on punts, is still a bit of an unknown so we may see a number of players still auditioning for that role. If all else fails, don't be surprised if Micah Hyde becomes the regular punt returner.

What about defense? The defensive line rotation will get a workout to see how that best sets up for the season. The linebacker set is pretty well defined except for the primary back up spots where there is still good competition. As for the secondary, there is some of the best competition for playing time that we've seen in years, which should make that unit as solid as any when the regular season kicks off.

The weather forecast for this evening is hot and steamy. At kickoff, the temperature is supposed to be around 76 degrees, with humidity around 80 percent. This will be more like the sweltering rainforest, not the frozen tundra. Thunderstorms are pegged at 20 percent chance through a good portion of the game.

Yours truly will be at the game this evening, so the usual in-game Tweets will not be made in case you were counting on our pithy insights. Will do a follow-up post here this weekend on the fun and frivolity that took place. Oh, and the game, too, of course.

Go Pack Go!!!