The fourth and final game of the preseason for the Green Bay Packers kicks off Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. The final preseason game may be not one of the most exciting things for football fans to watch, but it’s a crucial game for coaches and players.
On the Packers side of the ball, the starting unit will possibly see one series with some of the team’s top talents possibly sitting out all together. Injuries have been a problem for the Packers already this season and they don’t want to risk adding anyone else to the list. With the second and final day of cuts around the NFL approaching, the Packers will be sure to get any of the “bubble” players as much playing time as they can.
First and foremost, the Packers will be keeping a close eye on the battle for the starting kicking job. For the first round of cuts, the Packers released Giorgio Tavecchio and brought in another challenger in Nick Ramirez. After a rough outing last season, Mason Crosby appeared on his way out the door, and how he performs in the final preseason game will most likely determine his fate.
Another key battle during training camp and the preseason that took a turn after the first round of cuts was the backup quarterback battle. The Packers decided to release Graham Harrell and keep rookie B.J. Coleman and veteran Vince Young. After struggling to find a team, Young was called up by the Packers a few weeks ago and apparently they liked what they’ve seen so far. It appears that Young won the backup job after last week’s preseason performance by impressing the coaching staff with his running ability. As for rookie Coleman, the best guess is that he will find a spot on the practice squad, staying close to the organization.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, are entering the contest with a mentality that it is just like any other game. Head coach Andy Reid wanted his players to come during this week’s practice and continue to work hard, not letting up because it’s the final preseason game.
Injuries are something Reid wants to avoid as well and the amount of playing time his starters will see is yet to be determined. Reid simply stated to his players that he wants them to be ready for any and all scenarios. One safe bet you can make is that, like the Packers, any “bubble” players will be highly evaluated in the contest.
So far in the preseason, the Chiefs have a 1-2 record with the win coming in an overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite the record, all players are excited about the new offensive system put in place by Reid. Quarterback Alex Smith finally seemed to be getting in the rhythm of the offense last week as he went 17-of-24 for 158 yards and one touchdown. The performance was good enough to earn the man a 102.4 passer rating. If the Chiefs hope to have a successful season behind Smith, quality play like he displayed last week will be what they need.
The Chiefs have won six of the previous meeting against the Packers, which dates back to 1989. One of those wins came in 2011 when the Packers took their 13-0 record into Arrowhead Stadium and came out with their only loss of that season. While the starters may not get a shot at redemption, the players fighting for a final roster spot will be giving it all they have.