NFL Preseason Preview - Green Bay (0-0) at San Diego (0-0)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - After having nearly seven months to vent over a shocking
early exit from the postseason, the Green Bay Packers begin their quest for
redemption with a visit to Qualcomm Stadium for a preseason-opening matchup
with the San Diego Chargers.
The 2010 world champion Packers loomed as the favorites to repeat as title-
holders after steamrolling through last year's regular season with a 15-1
record, but that success failed to carry over into the NFC Playoffs. Green Bay
was bounced from the tournament with a 37-20 upset loss to the eventual Super
Bowl-winning New York Giants in the Divisional Round, with an uncharacteristic
four turnovers playing a large role in the team's defeat.
Despite the offense's sloppy performance against the Giants, Packers general
manager Ted Thompson turned his offseason attention towards repairing a
defense that allowed the most yards in the league a year ago. Green Bay's
first six selections in April's draft came on that side of the ball, with
several of those picks ticketed for immediate playing time.
Southern California's Nick Perry, the Packers' first-round choice, will make
his debut Thursday as a starting outside linebacker opposite All-Pro Clay
Matthews, while second-round cornerback Casey Hayward is contending for a
major role in a rebuilt secondary in which playmaking veteran Charles Woodson
is shifting from corner to strong safety. Hayward entered camp battling
special-teams mainstay Jarrett Bush and second-year pro Davon House for the
right to man Woodson's former spot.
Michigan State lineman Jerel Worthy, another second-round pick, is in the mix
to start at right defensive end along with holdovers C.J. Wilson, Jarius Wynn
and Mike Neal.
Green Bay has far fewer concerns on an offense directed by reigning league MVP
Aaron Rodgers, so it's likely that the prolific quarterback sees minimal
action in Thursday's game. He'll also be operating without two key members
against the Chargers, with Pro Bowl wide receiver Greg Jennings and starting
left tackle Marshall Newhouse both ruled out after sustaining concussions in a
San Diego is also well set at the quarterback spot with four-time 4,000-yard
passer Philip Rivers at the helm, and he's expected to have limited snaps as
well in the opener. Backup Charlie Whitehurst won't play at all due to a
strained knee, leaving the majority of Thursday's duties to journeyman Kevin
O'Connell and undrafted rookie Jarrett Lee.
Slot receivers Eddie Royal and Roscoe Parrish will also sit out for San Diego
due to groin injuries, while regular left tackle Jared Gaither is questionable
after missing some practice time with a sore back.
Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove is eligible to play in the contest
despite being handed an eight-game suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger
Goodell for his participation in the New Orleans Saints' pay-for-performance
scheme during his tenure with the team from 2009-10.
This clash will also contain a historic first, with Shannon Eastin slated to
become the first female official to work an NFL game when she serves as
referee. Eastin was among the replacements hired by the league while it
remains at an impasse in labor negotiations with the Referees Association.
The Packers and Chargers have faced one another three times previously in the
preseason, with each team winning once while also playing to a scoreless tie
in the 1980 Hall of Fame Game. San Diego won the most recent encounter, a 17-3
decision at Qualcomm Stadium in 2006.
These teams also went head-to-head last November in regular-season play, with
the Packers prevailing in a 45-38 shootout in San Diego behind four touchdown
passes from Rodgers.
08/08 13:57:17 ET