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Packers vs. Cardinals: 5 Things You Could Watch in the 2013 Preseason Opener

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Packers vs. Cardinals: 5 Things You Could Watch in the 2013 Preseason Opener

The Green Bay Packers will open up their 2013 preseason schedule when the Arizona Cardinals pay a visit to Lambeau Field Friday night.

Overall, the Packers have won six straight preseason games over the Cardinals and hold a 16-6 mark in the exhibition series all-time.

The game will be televised over a 14-station network, with kickoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CT. Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon of CBS will handle the television broadcast, with Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren calling the action for the Packers Radio Network.

Below, we list five things you could watch during Friday's preseason opener:

1. Injuries Open the Door

A season ago, the Packers opened up the preseason in San Diego with 18 players on the sidelines. They might begin 2013 with a similar number wearing shorts and t-shirts at Lambeau Field Friday night.

The following players are either hurt or unlikely to play against the Cardinals: receiver Charles Johnson, receiver Kevin Dorsey, running back DuJuan Harris, cornerback Casey Hayward, cornerback Tramon Williams, tight end Andrew Quarless, tight end Ryan Taylor, receiver Jordy Nelson, safety Sean Richardson, offensive lineman J.C. Tretter, tackle Andrew Datko, tackle Bryan Bulaga, defensive end Jerel Worthy and tackle Derek Sherrod.

Also, running back Eddie Lacy has sat out the last two practices with a hamstring issue, while guard T.J. Lang suffered a back injury during Wednesday's practice that caused him to miss Thursday's session. It's possible neither will play. Randall Cobb returned from a biceps ding and may also be held out for precautionary reasons. Same for Mike Neal, who is just getting back into the flow after an abdominal injury landed him on the PUP list to start camp.

In all, the Packers could be without upwards of 18 players, which should open opportunities for a number of players to see increased reps. Those at receiver and along the offensive line could be the biggest beneficiaries of the injuries heading into the preseason opener.

2. Quarterbacks in the Spotlight

On Thursday, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy expressed an interest in playing all four of his quarterbacks against the Cardinals. As is the case with most established starting quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers will likely get one or two series to open the preseason. From there, McCarthy will have to split the remaining reps between Graham Harrell, Vince Young and B.J. Coleman.

Young has been running as the No. 3 quarterback behind Harrell and ahead of Coleman this week, making it plausible we see a similar rotation Friday night. The 28-year-old Harrell has clearly taken a convincing lead in the race to be Rodgers' backup, but a full slate of preseason games does provide the other two quarterbacks a chance to start making up ground.

Signed on Monday, Young is still in catch-up mode with the offense, but he's also looked uncharacteristically sloppy—especially for a veteran with 50 NFL starts—with simple quarterback tasks. Coleman, a second-year quarterback who was expected to legitimately challenge for the backup job, has taken a serious nose dive since his disappointing appearance in the Family Night scrimmage. It's telling enough that he's been relegated to running the scout team while Young has handled the No. 3 reps.

Both Young and Coleman need to impress starting Friday, or Harrell could make this a no-contest competition.

3. Bakhtiari's First Test

There's no question that Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick of the Packers in April, has impressed the coaching staff and exceeded all expectations during his first training camp. Few foresaw him developing into a major contributor in his rookie season.

But just as Bakhtiari was becoming a serious candidate to displace Marshall Newhouse as the starting right tackle, Bryan Bulaga suffered an ACL tear during the intrasquad scrimmage that will require season-ending surgery. Instead of making the easy decision and moving Newhouse back to left tackle, McCarthy and the Packers are rolling with the stand out rookie on Rodgers' blindside. So far, Bakhtiari has passed the eye test with flying colors.

However, the lights come on for real Friday night, and his $110 million quarterback will no longer be wearing an off-limits red jersey. From the obvious-decision department, McCarthy said Thursday that he plans to give his rookie left tackle an extended look at the position against the Cardinals. Is he up to the challenge? A performance from Bakhtiari that parallels what we've seen from him so far in camp would go a long ways in calming some of the panic Bulaga's season-ending injury has produced.

4. Finding Separation for the Five RBs

Holding Lacy out of Friday's contest would appear to be the Packers most sensible decision, even if his absence would rob Green Bay of seeing its second-round pick in a live-game scenario for the first time. There's really no reason to unnecessarily risk turning what is said to be minor hamstring problem into a lingering issue that could impact the regular season.

But even if Lacy can't go against the Cardinals, the Packers should get a good look at their revamped running back position. Veterans James Starks and Alex Green have each made a case for both sticking around and receiving carries, while fourth-round pick Johnathan Franklin has an ideal skill set to be an asset on third downs right away. Undrafted free agent Angelo Pease also had a strong debut in the Family Night scrimmage and should see later carries.

Lacy has taken a big step towards being the primary running back to start the season, but his competition is likely to get the first crack at creating a role for themselves in the preseason opener. Expect Franklin to get a long look if Lacy is held out.

5. Avoiding Injuries

The preseason obviously provides an ideal working environment for a respected talent evaluator like Ted Thompson. Facing an opponent in a game setting gives a more revealing and complete look at the entire roster, from top to bottom.

But even a football junkie like Thompson understands that being healthy ahead of Week 1 trumps all other advantages the preseason offers. He reiterated this week how important it was to "get your horses to the starting gate," which is the perfect metaphor for a team that has already been stung hard by the injury bug this summer.

Keep in mind, the Packers had originally thought they escaped the intrasquad scrimmage with no major injuries, but that turned out not to be the case. Also, in last season's preseason opener, Green Bay lost starting linebacker Desmond Bishop to a season-ending hamstring injury. For as much as the Packers brass can learn in four quarters of a preseason game, the most important ending to Friday night will still be limiting the names added to an already impressive list of injured players.

Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at zachkruse2@gmail.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (99) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I remember PS week 1 last year, not only did we lose a helluva football player for the year, but he never played another down for us. Here's hoping we fair a lot better on that front tonight.

Stroh's picture

PS?

Zach Kruse's picture

I think he means preseason, right FITZ?

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Yessir.

aussiepacker's picture

Pre Season.

Tommy G's picture

To whom do you refer, Fitz?

Evan's picture

Bishop

Tommy G's picture

ah.

Rich's picture

Good rundown Zach. Wish you had talked some about Kuhn's diminished role as primarily shoring up the left side after Bulaga's injury and how that may take an extra TE or receiver out of plays, but what you mentioned are good things to watch. Regarding Young, it's funny how much the hype of his signing has dissipated after a few days of watching him struggle, eh?

Zach Kruse's picture

I think the surprising thing is how sloppy Young has been with fundamental stuff. Understandable for a rookie, but a guy with 50 starts? Not good.

Evan's picture

I honestly don't remember much hype, but rather confusion.

At the rate he's going, he'll be lucky to survive the first cut down.

Rich's picture

There's a reason he didn't make it out of the Bills camp last year, which is why I stand by the notion that they brought him in to emulate Kaepernick and RGIII to prep the defense for the read option. We saw it in action last night in the 9ers-Broncos game. Young wasn't brought in for his football intellect or passing skills.

Evan's picture

But according to Brian (or maybe it was Zach), Young isn't running the scout team. Coleman is.

Idiot Fan's picture

Everything about this move is puzzling to me.

Mojo's picture

Other than the TT 'kick the tires' aspect to it, I agree. Young is not suited for this offense. And contrary to many peoples opinion, he was not brought in just to simulate a read-option QB. I think those that believe so are quite disingenuous to the Packers organization. They don't bring in people just to be test dummies. Whether their chances to make the team are high-or-low, they are brought in with the mindset they could win a roster spot.

Ted was intrigued by him years ago. And with Coleman struggling and without financial risk the Packers are taking a look. But if Young is not at least an average pocket passer the Packers can do better.

RC Packer Fan's picture

That's a good list of things to watch for tonight.

For me things I am going to watch for is...

Bakhtiari, and also I want to see Newhouse at RT. I want to see how they hold up.

RB's, I want to see Lacy and how he continues to go from Family Night but I expect him to not play which is the right thing to do. I still want to see Franklin though. Also I want to see how Starks and Green look.

Rookies, I want to see how they look in their first game action.

Defense. I want to see how they look compared to last year. If they cleaned up the rush defense at all.

Which players step up. To me this is the part I love about preseason games, to see what players step up and stand out.

hayward4president's picture

Bring in some Boykin!

Lars's picture

Lacy to possibly miss the opener with an injury? Sounds like he'll fit right in with the likes of Harris, Starks and Green.

Idiot Fan's picture

I don't know where else to say this, but I thought MM's unofficial response to Jennings' "brainwashed" comment was spot on.

Evan's picture

I missed that. What did he say?

Idiot Fan's picture

From Demovsky on ESPN:

McCarthy: “I think it’s a product of your culture. Every coach, every player, every support staff member -- and I can express to you clearly everybody in the football operation -- understands the importance and the value of being a Green Bay Packer. That’s the way we operate, whether people like it or not. We do not do anything to jeopardize that. That’s number one.

“The brand name of the Green Bay Packers is something that all of our players are educated on, and then from that the development of your individual brand, hey go for it, but as long as it doesn’t ever jeopardize the brand of the Green Bay Packers. That’s the only message I’ve ever given to our team on a consistent basis, and our guys are in tune with that.”

Evan's picture

Hell yea.

Walty's picture

Man, I love McCarthy. Thank God for a coach that respects the history of the organization as much as the fans do.

Idiot Fan's picture

Agreed. I've always like McCarthy, but that comment made me respect the hell out of him.

Norman's picture

Sounds like a CEO.

Tommy G's picture

Or a college coach. That's the exact same thing that colleges do; preach loyalty to school and its history.

PackerBacker's picture

I think it's hilarious that Jennings thinks that's a bad thing. Ask any person who works for a large corporation. The whole "We're the best" sort of thing is done everywhere.
Also, what does it say for the Viking that they don't preach that they are the best?

Walty's picture

At least they're honest with themselves.

dawg's picture

Jennings: Missing the ex-girlfriend syndrome.
Man, this guy is becoming a real drama queen.

The TKstinator's picture

I have prepared a particularly large and delicious glass of Shut Up Juice for #15.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I'm going to be watching the O-line, LT mostly.

Datone, gonna have my eye on that killer.

Running Backs, curious to see how they do as a group. Really bummed Lacy is likely out, I'm anxious to see him against another team. But Franklin... I hope he has a great night.

hayward4president's picture

Yea...our D needs to set Da....tone. You see what I did there?

Morgan Mundane's picture

Thanks for the insight guys. I probably can't steal this signal since were forced to watch the Vikes tonight, that's the law in Minnesota. I have some radio stations ready to dial in though.

One question I will ask but don't need an answer to: Is Young really looking worse than Coleman? Did not think that one possible.

Evan's picture

From the practice reports, Young is throwing balls into the dirt and sending balls 5+ feet over WR's heads. Maybe it's just rust, but it sounds pretty ugly.

Cow42's picture

Nfl network at midnight.

Evan's picture

Is that anything like Cinamax After Dark?

Cow42's picture

I wouldn't know anything about that... Honest.

Evan's picture

Yeah, yeah...me neither.

BradHTX's picture

I hope not... I really don't want to see most of those dudes nekkid! Especially the OL... *shudder*

Cow42's picture

I would not play the following players until PS wk3...

Rodgers
Cobb
Finley
Lacy
Raji
Matthews
Pickett
Burnett

Everyone else either has a quality backup behind them, is fighting for a starting or roster spot, or could use the experience.

Call me paranoid but I'd sacrifice getting into rhythm to avoid injury as much as possible.

Does Rodgers really need preseason?
Do we really want him behind Bakhtiari, Sitton, ED'S, Barclay, Newhouse? I think they should let Lang come back and let Bakh get his feet wet at Harrell's expense.

Idiot Fan's picture

Yeah, I'm not too far off of that opinion. I do wish we had an easier start to the regular season so that we could let people sit a lot of the PS and it wouldn't be a huge deal if we weren't at our sharpest sharpest. But the with Niners in week 1, we don't really have that luxury. Hard to know where to draw the line.

Idiot Fan's picture

Sharpest sharpest? What the?

Cow42's picture

Not to be a dick but (as you all know) I'm pretty much looking at the first game as a loss, regardless.

I don't think the Pack even at it's sharpest-sharpest can beat SF.

Just too wide of a talent gap.

JakeK's picture

A real key .... The game's in the city by the Bay and I'm not talking a bay in Lake Michigan.

Idiot Fan's picture

A win there would certainly be a difficult task. My hope is that the Niners go in overconfident and our team, which suddenly discovered some nastiness with Jones on D and a power running game, socks them in the mouth. One can hope right????

Tommy G's picture

we can always hope. any given sunday, right?

Jimbo's picture

Anyone know where State TV for Packers can be watched online?

Tommy G's picture

http://firstrowus1.eu/watch/200022/1/watch-arizona-cardinals-vs-green-ba...

pick through the ads, don't download anything. Its not a great feed but it works.

The TKstinator's picture

I always wonder how coaches evaluate running backs late in preseason games with the end of the depth chart O-linemen providing garbage blocking.

Tommy G's picture

That has to be a tough eval.

Evan's picture

No idea where to put this, but this is great. PTI Aaron Rodgers Retrospective.

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC1la1XYLQA&feature=youtu.be

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJbkr_U76Ok

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAfzWWNW-TU

Cow42's picture

By the way... Did Nick Perry get traded? I absolutely hate that I'm not hearing how dominant he's been in practice.

How can a dude that big with those types of measurables just be a space eater?

I was really excited about the guy.

Bummer.

Evan's picture

I haven't heard much about Matthews either, for what it's worth. I don't think it means much.

But check our the Q&A on the JS from today. McGinn addresses that very Perry question. Basically he says he's been a rock defending the run with sporadic dominate flashes as a pass rusher so far.

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

Stay patient I believe Keven Greene can fix him in time he has to implant some of his old craziness he had when he was playing

Idiot Fan's picture

One of the websites (GBPG I think) in one of their practice recaps this week gave Perry the thumbs up for the day saying he blew up some running plays and also picked off a pass. Just one day, but still.

Jer's picture

but I certainly don't have to, right? ;)

MIKE47SMITH's picture

In case you can't watch Packers Preseason games where you're at like me, I have a link and a promo code for the Preseason Pass on nfl.com. You can watch every preseason game with subscription and then use my code dtv25 for $5 off. I hate guys that post ads and stuff trying to sell stuff, but I promise I just bought my own and just trying to help..... copy and past link in URL and then use promo code dtv25 to get the package for 14.99 instead of 19.99 http://preseason.nfl.com/nflpl/raf/8HEJRAU9GBFH

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

I have to stay up and start to watch this game at 1:00 am on NFL network.It's still better than the way I used to watch preseason ( on a bootleg broadcast like Justin tv on the internet) One year a guy broadcast the game with a cheap tv and a camcorder those were the days

Tommy G's picture

I couldn't find an HD stream. I've got it on FirstRow.

The TKstinator's picture

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me to even use Perry in pass coverage a lot. Occasionally, sure. A lot, no. He's got to earn his green rushing the passer, boys.

The TKstinator's picture

Oh, and setting the edge and destroying Kaepernick and RG3 and anyone else who dares to run the read option against the gold and the green.

hayward4president's picture

Perry will be fine ...trust in KG. Clay was no freak in college either.

Cow42's picture

"Trust in KG".

Walden
Zombo
So'oto
Popinga
Jones
Kampman

Not exactly "murderer's row".

KG's riding CMII's coattails, boys.

Evan's picture

I'd argue KG getting as much as he did from that scrap pile is a testament to him.

Tommy G's picture

Our secondary has looked awful. Harrell is still garbage. Other than that we don't look bad at all. Running game is all starks and franklin so far tonight.

Evan's picture

Bakhtiari has looked real good.
Ross has had some nice grabs.
Running game is chewing up some yards.
Run D has also looked good - but I don't think the Cards have much of a running game.

But, yeah, they really need Tramon and Hayward to get healthy. And Harrell is strug-i-ling.

Tommy G's picture

I think Bak has done well indeed! Ross, boykin and the other rookie (can't remember his name) all made good catches.

two turnovers by Harrel; man that's hard to watch

Idiot Fan's picture

I didn't necessarily watch Bakhtiari every play, but I did notice him getting some TE help a few times. I think they're easing him in.

Evan's picture

I've been keeping an eye on him a lot. I haven't noticed a lot of help.

Tommy G's picture

I tried to keep track of him; not bad at all, some help, couple of misses, but not bad at all.

Idiot Fan's picture

This makes me very happy.

Idiot Fan's picture

I need a CHTV live blog, the JS online one is very annoying.

Also, even if it is backups in a preseason game, whenever I hear "confusion in the secondary" my blood boils.

Tommy G's picture

The secondary was bad even with the first line that was in. Run D has great pursuit; which might be due to Cards having a lousy run game.

Evan's picture

I will say, I love Micah Hyde's tackling.

Tommy G's picture

that is a refreshing sight!

Tommy G's picture

I'm not sure if you all caught it but Datone did leave the game early with an ankle issue. Anyone heard more than that yet?

Idiot Fan's picture

No, although I haven't seen him receiving a lot of attention, so hopefully it's nothing big. Either that or it broke off and there's nothing the trainers can do.

Tommy G's picture

yeah... neither answer would surprise me.

Evan's picture

haha. According to twitter he got re-taped but no injury was announced.

Tommy G's picture

thanks!

Tommy G's picture

Update. CM said Datone sprained his ankle... For what that's worth.

Idiot Fan's picture

Anybody know why the Packer TD wasn't awarded on replay? I didn't have the sound on at that point.

Evan's picture

Because the refs are idiots? Maybe they thought his knee was down, but it looked like a TD to me.

Tommy G's picture

They said inconclusive. It was dead obvious that it was over the line to everyone but the officials.

Idiot Fan's picture

I can see how if you didn't feel like watching the entire replay it would be inconclusive. Maybe the refs thought, "meh, I've given it a good five seconds and I don't see a TD in there."

Tommy G's picture

At least the didn't rule it an interception. Oh, wait these are the refs we all wanted!

Tommy G's picture

Our CBs look lost out there.

Idiot Fan's picture

I'm not going to overreact to a single preseason game. But holy hell, if we get more "confusion in the secondary" this year, I am ready to declare that the scheme sucks.

Tommy G's picture

Well, my advice would be not to watch Harrell's performance either. We're basically paying him to put us in a bad mood.

Idiot Fan's picture

I actually don't care at all about our backup QB position. If Rodgers goes down it's basically over regardless. Even Flynn never won any of the important games that he had to play in.

Tommy G's picture

So very very true.

Tommy G's picture

I don't know if it's a scheme thing. Most of the time they are in man to man; so this is just CB and Safeties blowing their coverage. Coaching and personnel.

Idiot Fan's picture

I see we've still got all the awesome third-and-long defensive calls in the playbook.

Tommy G's picture

yes, this is really not good.

Tommy G's picture

best CB or Safety on the field tonigh... Bush. What's that tell you?

Tommy G's picture

Stanton looks good. Carson Palmer should be nervous.

Tommy G's picture

seven drives without a first down. Yes, I know its back-ups in a preseason game; but, damn!

Wenis's picture

I agree Tommy. Pre-season or not the entire team looks terrible.

Wenis's picture

Best play of the game tonight for the Packers was the opening kick-off by clubfoot Crosby.

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