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Preseason Packers vs Steelers Game: Previews

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by TOPHAT, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

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    Things to Watch & Keys to Game

    1. Overall, how well does the offensive do in scoring, coordination, & minimizing penalties? Simply how is the chemistry? Is Bret & Rodgers comfortable? How well does the offensive line play, especially in runs & blitzes, against the stout Steelers defense

    2. How well do the receivers play, especially who plays at the 3 or 4 or 5 set receivers? Watch the QBs check points.

    3. For the West Coast offense, how do the tight ends play & how effective?

    4. How well do the Wrs, especially Jones, handle bump-and-run getting open?

    5. How well does RB Jackson handle assignments, runs, & blitzes?

    6. How well does the defensive line play, after watching the Steelers offense tear up the Saints.

    7. How well does the first line pass defense handles the Steelers receivers,
    e.g. Santonio Holmes, Cedrick Wilson and Hines Ward. How good are LB Poppinga etc. at coverage. How deep will our new LBs corps be?

    8. How well do the DLs play, especially Justin Harrell & Jolly & Cole, handling the Steelers offensive plays. Who stands out besides Kampman & Jenkins? How does the rotation go?

    9. How well does the secondary play, i.e. Bush, Dendy etc., if Harris and Woodson sit out? How well do Manuel, Rouse, Bigby, Blackmon, Underwood, and generally backups play.

    11. How well does the new improved QB Rodgers play?

    12. How improved is the special teams with new personnel, e.g. Hall, Bishop, etc.?

    13. How do Bodiford & Clowney do in KR? How well goes the PR?

    14. How does the kicking battle between Crosby & Rayner go?
     
  2. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

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    PREGAME PREPS

    http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com...20070810/PKR01/708100602/1057/PKR&located=RSS

    Offensive line is up for a challenge

    There's a quiet optimism about the Green Bay Packers' offensive line that could be authenticated or shattered in Saturday's preseason opener at Pittsburgh. For nearly two weeks, the coaches and scouts have watched the group perform with a cohesiveness that wasn't present at this time a year ago when it got destroyed in the preseason opener at San Diego. Though it's the position group that's perhaps toughest to evaluate based on training camp practices and one scrimmage, there are reasons to believe the group will be much improved. For starters, guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz aren't rookies anymore. A year ago at this time, they never had played in an NFL game. Now, they have 15 and 13 starts, respectively, under their belts. Scott Wells is entering his fourth NFL season and his second as a full-time starter at center.

    It's the second year in coach Mike McCarthy's offensive system, meaning the difficult-to-learn zone blocking scheme should be closer to second nature. Less tangible but no less important is the chemistry that should exist within a group that returns all five starters. All of that sounds good, but until the offensive line puts it to use in a practical setting, it's just guesswork. "I think you need to see them in a situation where you haven't got it all scripted and don't know what's coming," said offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who was the line coach last season. "They did some real nice things (in the scrimmage). We were pleased with the first group. That was a situation where they didn't know what plays (were coming). It looks like they've made some strides, and we hope that continues."

    McCarthy and Philbin should be able to gauge how far the line has progressed following Saturday's exhibition against the Steelers. Pittsburgh plays the same 3-4 defense than the Chargers used to beat the Packers a year ago. In that game, starting quarterback Brett Favre took 20 snaps and was sacked twice and hit at least three other times. On the first two possessions, the No. 1 offense totaled minus-3 yards. Backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers also faced considerable pressure. Like San Diego, the Steelers love to blitz from all directions and, according to Philbin, they blitzed on nine of the first 10 snaps against New Orleans in Sunday's Hall of Fame game. "We feel better about where we're at today than we did last Aug. 10," Philbin said. "I think our guys have a better understanding of the system. We think they're better fundamentally than they were a year ago at this time. We're confident that we can match up with people and protect the quarterback."

    If that's the case, then it not only will help keep pressure off Favre, but it could open the passing the game. In many cases last season, McCarthy was forced to adjust protections and keep in an extra blocker or two. For example, in the base offense (two backs, two receivers and a tight end), if McCarthy felt he had to protect with seven, he had to keep either both backs or a back and a tight end in. "I think it remains to be seen," said Rodgers, when asked if the coaches again will have to use a lot of seven-man protections. "That depends on how we can block in the preseason and how much time we can give Brett. Really, (the preseason) was a microcosm of our inability to protect with six last year."

    Six-man protection is fairly common in the NFL given how often defenses blitz, but seven is a bit more extreme. "I'm much more confident we can block with five or six," Wells said. "Having another year in the system with the same guys will help a lot. We understand the offense more, so I'm fairly confident. Obviously, we have to show it, but I think our recognition is a lot better. I know last year, going into the opener, we were surprised by a couple of zone (blitzes). We didn't pick them up at all. Now, we know we're going against a team that likes to blitz, and we've got another year of experience."

    It may be tougher to tell what strides the line has made in the zone blocking scheme in part because McCarthy likely will use only a few core running plays in the preseason. Also, there's a certain rhythm needed for the running game to succeed, and that's often tougher to find in the early preseason games, when the starters play only a few series. "We're not quite the smooth operating machine that we're going to be, hopefully," Philbin said. The Packers also like their offensive line depth better than a year ago. Rookie fourth-round draft pick Allen Barbre has held his own at left guard and in any other year, might be in the mix for a starting job. Second-year pro Tony Moll started 10 games last season (five each at right guard and right tackle) and is considered a better-than-adequate backup at either right-side position.
     
  3. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

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    Re: PREGAME PREPS

    http://packers.scout.com/2/666796.html

    Packers prepare to play Steelers; injury update; Hodge slips down depth chart Enough Green vs. White already. Time for a realistic progress gauge. Saturday night Green Bay will play at Pittsburgh (6:30 p.m. CT) in the first NFL game for several Packers. Training camp has provided first impressions. Saturday, they can be taken seriously. Is James Jones this year’s Greg Jennings? Is Justin Harrell hinting more toward Jamal Reynolds than Vonnie Holliday? Can David Clowney outlast Shaun Bodiford in the return game? These will be intriguing questions to track. Yet most Packers fans will be firmly mesmerized on rookie running back Brandon Jackson, who has taken advantage of injuries to Vernand Morency and P.J. Pope.
    ______________________________________________________________

    http://www.railbirdcentral.blogspot.com/

    Favre to play little Saturday, Rodgers most & Martin some.

    Green Bay Packers star quarterback Brett Favre will start his team's first preseason game on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he reportedly won't see much action. According to the Associated Press, "(Packers head coach Mike) McCarthy recognizes that Favre needs to establish chemistry with younger players such as second-round running back Brandon Jackson and third-round receiver James Jones, but he doesn't want the three-time MVP to go overboard." "McCarthy said he anticipates the starters will play about 12 to 15 snaps Saturday, though some veterans could play less, including QB Brett Favre," writes Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "McCarthy said he wants to get backup Aaron Rodgers some action with the starters."

    Wynn and Mirre doubtful to play Saturday

    Green Bay Packers running backs DeShawn Wynn and Brandon Miree are likely doubtful to play in the team's first preseason game Saturday at Pittsburgh. "Wynn sustained a strained quadriceps in practice Tuesday night," reports Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "Miree has a shoulder stinger. They're among a handful of players trainers were expected to re-evaluate this morning, but McCarthy didn't express optimism about either playing." The Packers are low on running backs as it is, and this situation doesn't help matters. The only healthy running backs are tailbacks Noah Herron and Brandon Jackson, fullbacks Korey Hall and Ryan Powdrell, and Corey White who can play either position.
     
  4. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    Preseason Packers vs Steelers Game: Keys

    When I first saw this thread, I thought I was going to add some things, but they've pretty much covered everything. I think the only positions that aren't mentioned, at least indirectly, are fullback and linebacker. So maybe instead of adding to this long list, I will prioritize.

    1. Brandon Jackson--I'm more interested in how he runs the ball than how he covers assignments, because running the ball is most of his job, and I expect him to still be a work-in-progress regarding blocking, being in the right position on pass plays, etc.

    2. Shaun Bodiford vs. David Clowney--Which of these potential return men will stand out? There is probably going to be room for only one of them on the roster. I would give the edge to Bodiford at this point, because he's done more as a receiver than Clowney has.

    3. Martin Crosby--It would be ideal to see him go in with the game on the line, or at least a field goal attempt to end the half. We already know what we have with Rayner: a pretty good kicker who has made one clutch field goal against the Vikings. If Crosby can make a clutch pre-season field goal he can partially cancel out Rayner's only real edge against him.

    4. Cullen Jenkins--Supposedly he's been a beast in practice. Let's see if this could be a breakout year for him.

    5. Strong safety--Will someone, ANYONE, stand out at this position?

    6. Bush vs. Dendy vs. Walker--The battle for the nickel back position.

    Okay, and EVERYTHING ELSE. I'm looking forward to the game.
     
  5. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

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    PREVIEW

    http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com...20070811/PKR01/708110520/1057/PKR&located=RSS

    5 things to watch in tonight's Packers-Steelers game

    1. How will the Packers fare with just two healthy halfbacks, rookie Brandon Jackson and Noah Herron? Actually, it's 2½ if you count Corey White, who the Packers officially list as a fullback but is capable of running with the ball. In the absence of injured Vernand Morency and P.J. Pope, this will be Jackson's chance to shine and put in a claim for the starting job.

    2. They should rename them the Blitz-burgh Steelers. In their preseason opener last week against New Orleans, the Steelers blitzed on nine of the first 10 plays. The Packers' offensive line, and Brett Favre, must come prepared for the onslaught.


    3. Rookie Mason Crosby is making a strong run at unseating veteran kicker Dave Rayner. But it's one thing to boot field goals in practice; it's another to do it in a game. Let the competition begin.


    4. In two previous seasons, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has done nothing to push Favre toward retirement. Of course, he hasn't had much of a chance. The preseason will give Rodgers ample playing time and a prime opportunity to prove he can run the offense.


    5. Starters Al Harris and Charles Woodson might not play, which should only intensify the battle for the No. 3 and No. 4 cornerback spots. It's time to put up or shut up for Jarrett Bush, Patrick Dendy, Will Blackmon and Frank Walker.
     
  6. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

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    PREVIEW

    http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=645456

    Preview: Packers at Steelers

    When: 6:30 tonight. Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh.

    Injury report: Packers - RB Vernand Morency (knee) and RB P.J. Pope (knee) are out; CB Charles Woodson (hamstring), CB Al Harris (back), RB DeShawn Wynn (thigh), tackle Tony Moll (neck), fullback Brandon Miree (neck) and defensive end DeVon Hicks (groin) are doubtful. Safety Aaron Rouse (ankle) is questionable. Steelers - RB Willie Parker (knee), LB Lawrence Timmons (groin) and guard Alan Faneca (shoulder) are out; LB James Harrison (ribs) and center Chukky Okobi (back) are questionable.

    FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

    Limited debut: Coach Mike McCarthy doesn't want to put quarterback Brett Favre at risk in an exhibition game, but it's important for him to begin developing an on-field relationship with rookies Brandon Jackson and James Jones. McCarthy will try to get Jones on the field with Favre so that the quarterback can get a better feel for the receiver's reactions. Jackson will start at running back and will be a factor picking up the blitz and catching out of the backfield.

    Line item: After a fairly solid scrimmage, the starting offensive line will get a chance to go against one of the most aggressive defenses in the league. It will be a good test in defending the blitz, but it also will be a gauge for how the team fares against a 3-4 team. Last year, the Packers struggled against 3-4 teams and weren't able to execute their running game very well. The five starters have been together for entire season and all of training camp, so they will be expected to show improvement.

    Familiar faces: With Parker being held out for precautionary measures, the Steelers will start ex-Packer Najeh Davenport. The Steelers picked up Davenport not long after the Packers cut him last summer and he has taken over the power role Jerome Bettis once held. In addition, linebacker Clint Kriewaldt, a former UW-Stevens Point player, and tight end Jon Dekker, a Greenfield native who attended Thomas More High School, are both expected to play for the Steelers. Kriewaldt is in his ninth season and Dekker is attempting to make the final roster after spending last year on the practice squad. Also, former UW center Donovan Raiola was picked up this past week and might play.

    Home sweet home: McCarthy expects to meet with a number of family members and friends upon his return home to Pittsburgh. He won't, however, make it back to the bar his dad once owned where he spent many hours as a young adult breaking empty beer bottles for the their disposal.

    On solid footing: Heinz Field uses DD Grassmaster, the same hybrid turf the Packers use on their practice field and are trying out at Lambeau Field for the first time this season. The Pittsburgh area got hit with a lot of rain, but the turf is supposed to hold up well under rainy conditions. This will be the Packers' first trip to Heinz Field and their first trip to Pittsburgh since playing a Monday night game in 1998.
     
  7. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

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    PREVIEW

    http://packers.scout.com/2/666919.html

    Packers at Steelers: Keys to the game Aaron Rodgers will get plenty of playing time.

    From offense to defense to special teams, here are five things to look for as Green Bay kicks off the preseason on tonight at Pittsburgh. It’s dangerous to read too much into a preseason football game. Especially the first preseason game. With that said, tonight’s opener (6:30 p.m. CT start) at Pittsburgh will provide a big test for a young Packers roster with a bunch of unanswered questions.

    Here are five keys to the game.

    Packers run game vs. Steelers run defense

    Last year, coach Mike McCarthy stressed the importance of the running game and vowed to make it the emphasis of his offense. Then he went out and had Brett Favre throw a team-record number of passes.

    McCarthy is returning home to Pittsburgh. He was called “Pittsburgh Macho” when he was hired by Ted Thompson. He’s got to find out if Brandon Jackson is capable of being a No. 1 running back, and he’s got to find out if he’s got a fullback. Even with a new coaching staff, Pittsburgh hasn’t changed its blitzing ways. The Steelers blitzed the Saints on practically every play when it was starters vs. starters in the Hall of Fame Game last week.

    With all of that said, expect McCarthy to lean on his young and talented offensive line. The Packers, like most teams, don’t spend much time game-planning for a preseason game, so they probably won’t be fully prepared to face a wide array of blitzes. Thus, to keep Favre and Aaron Rodgers safe, look for McCarthy to see if his blockers can handle the Steelers’ front seven. If they can, it will be a good omen for the season.

    Packers defensive line vs. Steelers offensive line

    The Packers’ defensive line is supposed to be a strength, with the addition of first-round pick Justin Harrell at defensive tackle and Cullen Jenkins entering his first season as the starter. Pittsburgh’s offensive line is always stout, and it will be this year, too, even with longtime line coach Russ Grimm bolting to Arizona. Alan Faneca is one of the best left guards in the business, and he’ll provide a terrific trial-by-fire for Harrell and Colin Cole, who are competing for the defensive tackle slot opposite Ryan Pickett. Jenkins, meanwhile, faces underrated left tackle Marvel Smith. It’s only the first preseason game, but the Packers’ defensive front seven is supposed to be what carries this team to victories. The Steelers will provide a fantastic first test.

    Rodgers under center

    Favre will start, but McCarthy wants Rodgers to get some snaps with the rest of the first-team offense. That means Rodgers likely will play at least half of the game. Rodgers has had a strong training camp, and performed well with the No. 2 offense — surrounded by a few guys who won’t make the team — against the No. 1 defense during last Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage. He hasn’t faced a true pass rush yet, though, and hasn’t been hit since the New England game last season, when his season ended with a broken foot. Nobody knows yet whether Rodgers really is the quarterback of the future, and Saturday’s game won’t provide any definitive answers. Still, a good outing against a strong team should bolster the confidence of his teammates, coaches and the fans.

    In the secondary

    The battle to be the Packers’ backup cornerbacks is perhaps the hottest fight in training camp, and the ability to find a quality No. 3 and No. 4 cornerback became apparent when the NFC North-rival Detroit Lions threw for 500 yards in their preseason opener. Jarrett Bush is closing on Patrick Dendy to be the nickel corner, and don’t forget about Will Blackmon, who showed playmaking skills during the scrimmage and is the most athletic of the bunch. Those corners will be tested by Pittsburgh’s new offense, which was partially written by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Then, there’s the battle which hasn’t been much of a battle. Marquand Manuel seemingly is entrenched as the No. 1 safety opposite Nick Collins, but that all could change if Manuel performs like he did at the scrimmage and someone from a group including Atari Bigby, Aaron Rouse or Marviel Underwood finally does enough to impress. If someone is going to unseat Manuel, he had better make his move now.

    Kickers go live

    Barring a few breakout performances by the offense, the Packers are going to need strong play from their special teams to win games this season. At the forefront is the battle at kicker, where rookie sixth-round pick Mason Crosby has made up a lot of ground on incumbent Dave Rayner this week. You don’t want the offense to stall between the Steelers’ 25- and 35-yard lines too often, but the more opportunities for Rayner and Crosby, the better. Finally, there’s the battle at kickoff returner. Shaun Bodiford seems to have the advantage over rookie fifth-round pick David Clowney. Clowney is raw at receiver and there are only so many roster spots, but he could turn the tables with an impressive runback or two. The special teams haven’t gone totally live during training camp. Thus, the depth chart at this early stage means practically nothing.
     
  8. TOPHAT

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

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    PREVIEW

    http://www.railbirdcentral.com/2007/08/five-things-to-watch-tonight.html

    Five things to watch tonight

    Everyone knows that you're not going to see the best football game you've ever watched in your life tonight with during an NFL preseason game with the third and fourth string players getting the most playing time they're ever going to receive. But these are the types of games that will round out a team's roster and get a team prepared for the regular season. So what should you watch for during tonight's Green Bay Packers/Pittsburgh Steelers game?

    Watch how the offensive line does with Pittsburgh's blitzing defense. Remember that the Steelers blitzed on 9 of their first 10 plays in the Hall of Fame game last weekend. The Packers will likely experiment with not leaving a tight end in for extra protection, putting more pressure on the line. If the line holds up, you'll see an extra receiver out running pass routes during the regular season which should result in a more effective offense.

    Watch the thin corps of running backs and, especially, Brandon Jackson. The performance of Jackson during the preseason will go a long way towards how much playing time he'll get during the regular season. If he's able to pick up the blitz in addition to being a good runner and receiver, he'll see the field a lot more.

    Watch the safeties. Is Marquand Manuel really the best option the Packers have? Atari Bigby was compared to Brian Dawkins by Al Harris. And Marviel Underwood was playing very well last year until a knee injury derailed him for the year. Both should see plenty of playing time tonight.

    Watch the backup receivers. Behind Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, there's lots of question marks. Can a rookie like James Jones really build a good repoire with a veteran like Brett Favre to play such a large role in the offense this season? And after Jones, who's going to make the team? Robert Ferguson, Carlyle Holiday (pictured), Ruvell Martin, Shaun Bodiford and David Clowney are all fighting for two or three spots. And don't count out players like Chris Francies and Carlton Brewster just yet.

    Watch the kicking battle. The Packers are going to be in pretty good shape no matter which kicker they keep, but who is it going to be? Practice only tells you so much. Maybe the job between Dave Rayner and Mason Crosby will come down to who can make a 50+ yard field goal in a game situation.
     

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