The Packers couldn't ask for a better opponent in the third week of the Pre-Season than the Seattle Seahawks. This is the game where teams typically play their starters the most and the annual Midwest Shrine Game at Lambeau Field should give both Mike McCarthy and his counterpart, Pete Carroll, a pretty good idea of where their teams stand. McCarthy however, may not run his number ones for the entire first half. Complicating the playing time question all month has been the injuries in camp. 17 players missed the opener against Arizona, 15 players sat out against the Rams in St. Louis. There will likely be a dozen players withheld from this game. McCarthy has to get the boys on the bubble into the game for the evaluation he and GM Ted Thompson will preside over this weekend as they make the first roster cut to 75 by Tuesday. Fringe candidates can play their way on or off the roster with their performance. Here are five things to watch when the two NFC contenders meet.
A touchdown, please!
Aaron Rodgers and the number one offense has move the ball effectively at times in their brief outings to date, but they still haven't hit paydirt. With Rodgers likely to play little, or not at all against Kansas City next week, it's important for the overall psyche of the starters to experience a touchdown or two, but that won't be easy against the formidable Seattle defense.
Make that kick.
Just when it looked like Mason Crosby had shaken out of the doldrums with three makes in St. Louis, he missed three in a row at Wednesday's practice, all from inside of 40 yards. The veteran hasn't been able to distance himself from free agent Giorigio Tavecchio in camp. As in a heavyweight bout, the challenger has to knock out the champ, not win by decision. I don't think Giorgio has done that but if Mason struggles in the final two pre-season games, he could be looking for work next month.
Read option primer.
Former Wisconsin Badger Russell Wilson is a nimble, smart quarterback, unafraid to tuck it an run. The Packers spent a considerable amount of time this off-season and in camp bracing for the read option that killed them in the playoffs. Facing Wilson will give the defense a good primer on the quarterbacks they will see in the first two regular season games, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffen III.
Don't press to impress.
With so many young players vying for backup jobs, they've got to find a way to get management to notice. Face it, the only starting job still up for grabs is right tackle between Don Barclay and Marshall Newhouse and right now Barclay has the edge. Longshots often make the mistake of trying too hard to make the play and it results in mistakes that can be very costly. Keep an eye on plays made within the system. It could earn those players at least one more week.
Say your prayers.
So what do you think will be the over/under for references to the Hail Mary, simultaneous catch play that ended last year's Green Bay-Seattle game? My guess is 50 from the CBS crew doing tonight's game. Fans will dredge up the debate all night, was it M.D. Jennings or Golden Tate? The Packers would do well to not dwell and just get out and play a very talented team.
Check back after the game for a post analyzing the contest with photos and locker room quotes.