GREEN BAY —
Julius Peppers didn't seem very impressed with his first preseason
sack with the Packers.
The hope in Green
Bay is that it will be the first of many big plays from Peppers
once the real games begin.
It's early, but
coach Mike McCarthy's plan to boost the defense in 2014 looks as
if it's working so far.
Keep this up and
Green Bay will be poised for a deep playoff run given the offense
is already in good hands with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Peppers, who was
signed as a free agent after being a salary cap casualty in NFC
North rival Chicago, is far from satisfied with the preseason
We need to get better at everything, wrap up better and tackle, we
need to rush better," Peppers said after the 31-21 preseason
win over the Oakland Raiders. "There's always going to be
room for improvement."
The season opener
doesn't get any tougher — at Seattle on Sept. 4 against the
Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
Things to watch
this season with Green Bay going for a fourth straight division
Bay Packers' Mike Neal runs with the ball after recovering a
fumble during the first half of an NFL preseason football
game against the Oakland Raiders Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in
Green Bay, Wis.
RODGERS: Hard to believe, but the quarterback is entering his 10th
season in the league. He looks as good as ever.
The throws are
sharp and the up-tempo offense is running well. Rodgers did more
yoga as part of his offseason routine, something that the
30-year-old quarterback has said helps with flexibility as he gets
The Packers were
poised to pull away in the division last season until Rodgers went
down with a collarbone injury. With a full year of Rodgers and
Offensive Rookie Player of the Year Eddie Lacy in the backfield,
the offense could be potent.
"We might be
able to be a little bit more balanced, but we're still going to
attack people with our timing in the pass game and be able to do
things in the run game that we haven't done maybe in the last four
or five years," Rodgers said.
felt like our short passing game is extended handoffs, and we're
going to be slightly more pass than run."
WHAT A RUSH:
Peppers pairs with Clay Matthews to give the Packers a
high-profile duo of prolific pass rushers. Defensive coordinator
Dom Capers likes the depth at the position, too.
Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy, center, leaps into the
crowd after rushing for a touchdown against the Oakland
Raiders during the first half of an NFL preseason football
game Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.
Mike Neal emerged
last season with six sacks. Former first-round pick Nick Perry,
who was hurt for much of last season, showed a glimpse of his
potential after forcing a fumble on a sack of Matt Schaub last
week against the Raiders.
Matthews is back
from a thumb injury that sidelined him for parts of the 2013
season. Now, Green Bay can be creative with the pass rush with
Peppers and Matthews on the field at the same time.
to have Clay back out there healthy. Clay has been able to take
all of his reps through the preseason, which has been a real
positive," Capers said.
WHAT A RUSH, PART
II: Lacy has received limited work in the preseason, but get ready
to see a lot of him in the regular season. He regularly works on
pass-catching during practice, and McCarthy wants all his running
backs to prepare for three-down work.
James Starks and
DuJuan Harris provide the Packers with a deep group in the
never have enough running backs," McCarthy said. "We
want to line up and keep playing and we don't want to get into
substituting backs based on down and distance.
Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) signals a
touchdown after the Packers scored against the Oakland
Raiders during the first quarter of an NFL preseason
football game Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.
Safety was an issue last season after the Packers failed to get an
interception from the position group. Veteran Morgan Burnett, who
started 2013 with a hamstring injury, is back after getting over a
couple of minor injuries this preseason.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
was drafted out of Alabama in the first round. But it is converted
cornerback Micah Hyde who appears to have taken over as the other
starter next to Burnett, though Clinton-Dix figures to see plenty
of time in the rotation. McCarthy likes the potential of the
personnel, including Sean Richardson.
teams last season were as affected by injuries as the Packers, who
had Rodgers, Matthews and receiver Randall Cobb on the injury
instituted some conditioning changes that seem to be directed at
reducing ailments such as muscle pulls, and those tweaks appear to
be working. It could also help with McCarthy's desire to push the
tempo on offense.
Still, Green Bay
must move on from two significant injuries from the Raiders game.
Defensive lineman B.J. Raji was lost for the season with a torn
right biceps. Center J.C. Tretter is out several weeks with a knee
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
— Jamaal Charles has confidence that the Kansas City Chiefs
offense will be in synch when the regular season rolls around a
week from Sunday.
does Andy Reid.
The Chiefs' coach
said Tuesday that he is unlikely to play any of his starters in
Thursday night's preseason game in Green Bay. Reid had hinted last
week that he may break from his norm and play at least some of
them after lackluster performances in their first three preseason
The Chiefs have
struggled while dealing with a rash of injuries and suspensions
that could keep several key players off the field in Week 1
to try to give the guys an opportunity to show. That's one reason
I normally hold the one's, so I can get a peer evaluation of these
young guys and see what they can do," Reid said. "Right
now, we have good competition on this team. And then if they don't
make your club they have some worthy plays on tape that other
clubs can evaluate."
This is the final
opportunity for many players to make an impression. The Chiefs
must trim their roster from 75 players to their final 53 by
Reid said that
Chase Daniel will lead the No. 2 offense through the first quarter
against the Packers. Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray, who are
competing for the No. 3 quarterback job, will split the final
three quarters with the rest of the reserve players.
probably going to use all the under guys," Reid said.
That's just fine
with Charles, who only received three carries in the entire
preseason. The Pro Bowl running back skipped the last two games
after hurting his foot while carrying a box, but he's been
practicing full speed and said he'll be ready for the regular
in the league a long time. I've had plenty of carries,"
Charles said. "Having three carries in the preseason won't
make me because those stats don't even count. I mean, the real
game counts, Week 1 against Tennessee, and that's all I'm worrying
isn't worried about a suspect offensive line that has struggled
with injuries, illness and suspension, and has been a big reason
why the first-team offense failed to score a touchdown in 16
series covering the first three preseason games.
Donald Stephenson is suspended for the first four games for
violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy.
That has led to a massive reshuffling along the line — Jeff
Allen has shifted from left guard to right tackle, and several
backups are trying to earn the nod to replace his normal spot at
worse, left tackle Eric Fisher missed Tuesday's workout in
triple-digit heat with a bout of the flu. The expectation is that
he will be healthy by next week, though.
have no worries about that. Those guys are going to come around.
It's preseason," Charles said. "They're still trying to
work with each other. They're young. But they got to go. Doesn't
matter who's there, they got to go."
That goes for the
group of players trying to lock down spots at wide receiver.
missed practice again with a groin injury, and his preferred
backup Junior Hemingway has been out with a hip injury. That means
Frankie Hammond, who was struggling just to make the team a few
weeks ago, could starter the season opener against the Titans.
last season on the Chiefs' practice squad.
Frankie had a great camp, and a great offseason, so it certainly
wasn't out of the realm of possibilities," Chiefs quarterback
Alex Smith said. "But once again, you focus on what's on your
plate and getting better and doing what you need to do to make
your offense go."
Charles, Smith believes the Chiefs are close to where they need to
"I think we
got some good work and some things to learn from," he said,
"but I feel good about what we're doing. Preseason is a great
tool for things like that."
Notes: Chiefs LB
Tamba Hali missed practice with a swollen knee. WR Mark Harrison
was ill. ... The Chiefs waived OT Ryan McKee and CBs Kevin Rutland
and Damond Smith to reach the 75-man roster limit by Tuesday's