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Game Preview: Packers vs. Chiefs Preseason Week 4

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Game Preview: Packers vs. Chiefs Preseason Week 4

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers by Kirby Lee—USA TODAY Sports. Illustration by Alex Tallitsch of CheeseheadTV.com.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers by Kirby Lee—USA TODAY Sports. Illustration by Alex Tallitsch of CheeseheadTV.com.

The Green Bay Packers host the Kansas City Chiefs in the annual Bishop's Charities Game, the preseason finale at Lambeau Field at 6:00 p.m. CT on Thursday, televised regionally on the Packers TV Network.

 

The Big Picture: What's at Stake?

The fourth and final preseason contest is the yearly "Don't Get Hurt" game in which the starters either play sparingly or not at all. The game isn't so much for the first-stringers as it is the players on the roster bubble that have one final opportunity to prove they're worth keeping on the regular season 53-man roster.

If nothing else, Thursday's game will be an opportunity to see how former Packers executive John Dorsey is doing building his own franchise as general manager of the Chiefs. In his first year on the job, Dorsey was named the NFL's Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.

 

What to Watch When the Packers Have the Ball

A) Corey Linsley working with the starters: After previous starter J.C. Tretter suffered a knee injury in the Packers' last game against the Oakland Raiders, the Packers have nowhere else to turn at the center position but to their fifth round draft choice.

The starters typically don't play much in the last preseason game, but Linsley is the exception to the rule. As a rookie, he needs the work and learning opportunities more than most as the Packers get ready to face the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in the regular-season opener just a week later.

It doesn't appear as if the Packers are highly motivated to see Aaron Rodgers play in the final preseason game, but it's the only opportunity to get some work with his new center in a game environment before the regular season begins.

B) The final opportunity for Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien: Even if Rodgers does happen to play on Thursday, it won't be for long. The vast majority of the playing time will go to Flynn and Tolzien, especially after the Packers cut fellow quarterback Chase Rettig earlier in the week.

Two questions still have to be answered for the Packers: A) Who will the backup quarterback be? And B) Will the Packers keep two or three quarterbacks on their regular-season roster?

Thursday is the last chance for Flynn and Tolzien to help the Packers come to a conclusion, and both figure to get long looks.

C) All wide receivers after the top three: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin have locked up the top three spots on the wide receiver depth chart. Beyond the top three, the rest of the wideouts need all the work they can get.

Second round draft choice Davante Adams might have a roster spot locked up, but he needs to takee advantage of every opportunity to get a better handle on the team's offense.

Meanwhile, Jeff Janis, Kevin Dorsey, Myles White and Alex Gillett are left to fight for one, maybe two, roster spots. A good showing on Thursday could sway the decision makers.

 

What to Watch When the Chiefs Have the Ball

A) Anyone lining up at nose tackle: After B.J. Raji tore his biceps in the Packers' last game against the Raiders, the Packers are looking for replacements, whether it will be one guy they'll rely heavily upon or several players on a rotational basis.

When the Packers practiced on Monday, it was reportedly Josh Boyd lining up with the starters at nose tackle, but by the time Wednesday came, it was free-agent addition Letroy Guion seeing time with the first-string defense despite coming off the team's Non-Football Injury (NFI) list just days earlier.

Undrafted rookie Mike Pennel has also been one of the pleasant surprises of training camp for the Packers this summer, and he may be able to lock up a roster spot with a solid showing against the Chiefs.

B) Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington: Although his quadriceps injury isn't expected to be as bad as Raji's, linebacker Brad Jones will not play in Thursday's game, according to head coach Mike McCarthy.

Lattimore, who replaced Jones in the starting lineup for four games last season, is expected to do so once again versus the Chiefs. The burden is on Lattimore to do more than flash occasionally solid play and start to become more consistent.

Second-year player Sam Barrington will also use the final preseason game as a platform to show that he's deserving of a bigger role, perhaps ahead of Lattimore.

C) Where Carl Bradford and Nate Palmer line up: With so much depth at the outside linebacker position, the Packers finally started to give some practice-time snaps to Bradford and Palmer on the inside this week.

What remains to be seen is whether the Packers are merely experimenting or a full-fledged transition is in effect.

The Packers have plenty of experience shifting linebackers from the outside to the inside. Jones, Lattimore and Rob Francois have all done so under defensive coordinator Dom Capers. But whether Bradford or Palmer will play there on Thursday is unknown.

 

What to Watch on Special Teams

The bubble players: So often fans watch the specialists: the kickers, the punters and return men instead of the other 10 players on the field. But the Packers will be looking at those players on the roster bubble to do the dirty work on special teams when tehy put together their 53-man roster: those doing the blocking and the tackling.

For example, the two players who led the team in special-team play-time percentage in the last game against the Raiders were Bradford (20 plays) and Dorsey (16 plays), neither of whom is expected to play a large role on defense or offense respecively this season.

The Packers will be paying special attention to players on the coverage and blocking units in order to find out who can help them when the games count.

 

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (37) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, i agree with everything you have said here Brian.

Some players I want to keep an eye on tonight are Kevin Dorsey, Myles White, Alex Gillett, Jake Stoneburner on offense and Jumal Rolle, Chris Banjo, Jayrone Elliott, Carl Bradford on defense. All of which I think are borderline of making the roster.
I personally feel that Elliott and Rolle have done enough to earn roster spots, but are there enough roster spots available for them?
The person that I could see possibly sneaking onto the 53 that no one has talked about is Alex Gillett. I think he will end up on the practice squad, but a really good night might make them keep him.

RCPackerFan's picture

Your exactly right. This is all about finalizing the last 10 or so spots available.

I really like both Rolle and Elliott a lot.
The only thing I think that is holding Rolle from making the roster is that he is playing in the deepest position on the roster. They already have Williams, Shields, Hayward, House, Bush, and you can count Hyde in there as well. But he is a guy that deserves to be on the roster in my opinion. Its hard to let good CB's go.
Elliott has just been impressive. Unless he has a terrible night, I expect him to make it.

IMO, if Bradford flashes anything tonight he is on the roster. If he doesn't, i am not sure.

RCPackerFan's picture

yeah, i do agree with you.

And also don't forget that next year Williams, House and I believe Bush are all going to be free agents. Rolle could fill in nicely next year.

Evan's picture

I think Rolle will make it - ahead of Goodson. They kept 6 last year, counting Hyde, plus 4 safeties.

I see it breaking down the same this year.

CB (6): Shields, Williams, Hayward, House, Bush, Rolle
Safety (4) : HaHa, Burnett, Richardson, Hyde

I like Banjo and would like them to find room, but I just don't know if it's possible.

Evan's picture

Totally - I think he's a PS lock.

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree with everything you guys have said.

I do hope they keep Rolle on the 53, and I think Goodson is on the PS. He is a perfect candidate to learn how to play. He has made some plays, but is raw and just needs experience.

Evan's picture

EDIT: Pasted below. Column was getting too narrow.

Turophile's picture

Currently, I'm expecting Banjo and Dorsey to make it because of how busy both are on ST. Stoneburner may be closer than some think to making the team with Bostick currently injured.

Packatron's picture

"Mind in gutter" moment: Groom and Bush in the same sentence is pretty funny.

That is all.

Evan's picture

Only difference I see between yours and mine is you keep Stoneburner over Bush (and you cut Palmer when I couldn't decide).

I totally agree with your take on Bush - nothing but respect for him, but I feel like he's sort of taking up a roster spot that could be better used. I just don't see it happening.

Bear's picture

I think you may have 54 on your roster....... five safeties.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, for the most part i agree.

I wonder if they keep 4 TE's does Stoneburner over take Taylor?

It will be interesting to see what happens tonight.

I still don't think they cut Bush, especially since he is entering his final year in his contract (I believe). I could be wrong about that, but i thought he was.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

This all seams pretty reasonable.

Personally, I would keep Tolzien over Bradford. If he can get the timing of the offense down he can be an improvement over Flynn. I don't feel Bradford has shown anything to deserve a spot on the 53, and it's not like he has elite metrics some team would jump on, he can land on the PS.

Evan's picture

For fun, here is my 53. I'm still trying to decide who I want to trade for LeMichael James, though. Maybe a 2015 1st round pick would get it done?

Quarterbacks (2): Rodgers, Tolzien

Running Backs (3): Lacy, Starks, Harris

Fullbacks (1): Kuhn

Wide Receivers (5): Nelson, Cobb, Boykin, Adams, Janis

Tight Ends (4): Rodgers, Bostick, Quarless, Taylor

Offensive Linemen (8): Bulaga, Bakhtiari, Sherrod, Sitton, Lang, Taylor, Tretter, Linsley

Defensive Linemen (6): Jones, Daniels, Guion, Pennel, Boyd, Thornton

Outside Linebackers (6) Matthews, Peppers, Perry, Neal, Mulumba/Palmer, Elliott

Inside Linebackers (5): Hawk, Jones, Barrington, Lattimore, Bradford

Cornerbacks (6): Shields, Williams, Hayward, House, Bush, Rolle

Safeties (4): HaHa, Burnett, Richardson, Hyde

Specialists (3): Crosby, Masthay, Goode

That’s 17 front 7 defensive guys – same as last year but shifted toward LBs. I punted on the Mulumba/Palmer cut – I have no idea. But I think Elliott makes it over one of them.

I’d love to see Taylor get cut for an extra WR or maybe a 7th OLB or for Banjo, but I don’t think it’s likely, especially with Bostick's injury.

Looking over the roster, I really don't see how there is room for a 3rd QB. Might come down to Bradford vs a 3rd QB. Easy decision for me, even if Bradford hasn't shown much of anything yet.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, same with Cow's projection, I pretty much agree with you.

I do wonder if Stoneburner over takes Taylor. I think tonight could decide who stays and who goes.

I'm thinking instead of the Mulumba/Palmer debate it will be Bradford/Palmer debate. Both guys have shifted to ILB this week. I think it will come down between those 2 guys.
And again, its going to be very tough to cut a 4th round pick. He maybe hasn't shown a lot yet, but he hasn't been that horrid either has he?

With Tolzien being able to be on the PS, i do wonder now if they keep Flynn hoping to put Tolzien on the PS.

Evan's picture

Yeah, Tolzien's PS eligibility throws a nice wrench into things. I just really don't think he'll make it through.

As others have said, the SF backup situation is a disaster and he's familiar with their system. I could see them grabbing him. He'd be an upgrade in St. Louis.

Looking at teams with GB connections. The Giants have Nassib, so he's not a fit there. Matt Moore seems pretty entrenched as the #2 in Miami.

Every year there is that 1 guy us fans are just sure won't make it to the PS and we're usually always wrong. Maybe it's Tolzien this year.

EDIT: That's a good call on Bradford/Palmer. Forgot Palmer was taking ILB snaps too. In that case, I think the nod goes to Bradford.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, I don't know how much interest there will be in Tolzien. San Fran has Gabbert as their backup. I don't think they would move away from him so soon do you? I haven't watched him play though so I don't know.

St. Louis could be a real option. How did Tolzien look against the Rams? If he looked good against them I can see them going after him.

He definitely could be the guy we are all saying everyone else will grab, but then no one does. I hope so...

Yeah, I am thinking Mulumba and Bradford. Palmer maybe goes to PS if he is eligible?

Evan's picture

"San Fran has Gabbert as their backup."

hahahahahaha!

"I don't think they would move away from him so soon do you? I haven't watched him play though so I don't know."

Consider yourself lucky. He's been total garbage (well, better in the 3rd game). Then again, the whole SF offense has been bad this pre-season.

RCPackerFan's picture

lol, trust me its funny to me, because before that draft I said Gabbert would be a bust.

My whole thinking was, didn't the 49ers trade picks to Jaguars for him? I don't remember what but I am going more on that they have invested into him that they probably wouldn't want to let him go so soon.

They maybe would look to get rid of him and could go after Tolzien.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"I want to trade for LeMichael James"

Why would they trade for another RB?

Evan's picture

Just a long-standing CHTV joke.

RCPackerFan's picture

lol, Yeah, i forgot to comment on that one before...

Lets see. They should trade Adams and Clinton-Dix for James.

jmac34's picture

that's what Ben would do

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I didn't understand his value before. I say trade next season's #1 pick straight up.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

For some people a preseason game is the only time they will ever get to see action at Lambeau Field.

RCPackerFan's picture

Its a waste of time for fans that don't want to watch it...

Its not a waste of time for GM's, Coaches, players trying to make the roster, and fans who like to like to watch the players trying to make the roster.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, i wouldn't pay full price for it.

I'm just saying that there is a purpose to the game.

Honestly this is a perfect type of game to take kids and family's too... It would be cheaper and it would allow family's a chance to go to a game.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Can I send you a message off blog?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

No, I was going to tell Cow how to find a stream link without posting it to the open internet.

But, thanks for apology.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

All of this year's draft picks + 1st Rd 2015 + 1st rd 2016 for LaMichael James. Could you imagine what LaMichael James brings to the Packers roster? I'd guess 6-10 kickoff returns (most of them touchbacks) and a handful of carries throughout the year... Get it done, Ted!

zeke's picture

As if that would be enough to get LaMichael James... What color is the sky on the planet where you live?

Archie's picture

There's something to be learned from even the 4th preseason game. There are at least 10 jobs still up in the air. Anybody that would keep Flynn over Tolzein is nuts. Flynn is boring.

Evan's picture

I don't know about 10 - but I'd say 3-4 roster spots are still very much up in the air.

Evan's picture

Yeah, it's all about those low-tier backup positions right now.

4thand1's picture

Didn't I read in an earlier post that you thought this game was a complete waste of time? Both teams should meet at the 50 , shake hands , wave to the crowd, then walk off the field.

xuyee's picture

Tolzien's strike to Janis was perfect.

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