The teams: The Green Bay Packers (2-1) vs. the Kansas City Chiefs (0-3).
The time: 7 p.m. CDT Thursday.
The place: Lambeau Field, Green Bay.
The TV coverage: WTMJ (Ch. 4) in Milwaukee and WKOW (Ch. 27) in Madison.
The announcers: Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon, with Jessie Garcia reporting from the sidelines.
The coaches: Green Bay's Mike McCarthy is 54-34 (5-2 postseason) in his sixth season as the Packers' coach and as an NFL head coach. Kansas City’s Todd Haley is 14-19, (0-1 postseason) in his third season as the Chiefs’ coach and as an NFL head coach.
The injury report: Packers –S Anthony Levine (concussion), DE Lawrence Guy (concussion), T Chris Campbell (knee), OLB Frank Zombo (shoulder blade), WR Randall Cobb (bruised knees), TE Jermichael Finley (ankle), WR James Jones (knee) and DE Mike Neal (knee) will not play. WR Greg Jennings (bruised knee), OLB Clay Matthews (hamstring), WR Donald Driver (ankle), CB Charles Woodson (rest, collarbone), TE Ryan Taylor (hip) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (foot) may not play. DE C.J. Wilson (concussion) and WR/KR Shaky Smithson (shoulder) are expected to play.
Chiefs – WR Jonathan Baldwin, TE Jake O’Connell, OL Ryan Lilja, OL Darryl Harris and LB Gabe Miller may not play.
THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
Diff’rent Strokes: Aaron Rodgers spent Tuesday’s final practice of training camp having flashbacks to his days as the scout-team quarterback, as he and a number of other usual starters worked off cards as the “look” team, a sure sign that the starters will call it a night quite early. Rodgers will play a series at most – and may not play at all, like in last year’s exhibition finale – as the preseason winds down, but the Chiefs are taking a decidedly different approach. According to the Kansas City Star, the Chiefs’ starters took a larger than normal share of the practice snaps for the second straight day and the coaches also did game-planning for the game, which would indicate that Haley intends to play the starters more than usual for a fourth exhibition game. “We have a plan,” Haley said. “I’d rather not get into it fully but I would say our core guys will have a good amount of playing time.”
Down to this: While the Super Bowl champs return 23 of 25 possible starters (including specialists), there are still roster battles in progress because of the team’s draft-and-develop personnel philosophy. The roster turnover from a year ago is surprisingly high for a title team, but that’s the way Ted Thompson and McCarthy like it. Battles remain on the offensive line and in the secondary, where none of the backups have distinguished themselves, and at tight end, wide receiver and outside linebacker, where it appears the Packers have more roster-worthy players than they have roster spots.
In the zone: Kicker Mason Crosby has made only one regular-season walk-off game-winner, but his 50-yard boot to beat Indianapolis last Friday night certainly didn’t hurt. Crosby, who re-signed with a five-year, $14.75 million deal in free agency, went out in the next practice and was a perfect 6-for-6. The coaches are hoping Crosby, who missed a 41-yarder earlier in the win over the Colts, can go over the 80 percent mark in field-goal accuracy this season – something he’s yet to do in his first four NFL seasons.
Ground to a halt: With a passing game like the Packers have, it’s not surprising that McCarthy doesn’t call many running plays. But the coach had intended to take a long look at halfbacks Ryan Grant, who is coming off last year’s season-ending ankle injury in Week 1, and James Starks, who missed all of training camp last year on the physically unable to perform list with a pulled hamstring suffered in the conditioning drill on the eve of camp. Unfortunately, with the unveiling of the no-huddle offense, the rushing attempts haven’t come for Grant (14 carries, 52 yards) or Starks (three carries, 16 yards).
The Joe Show: Speaking of not running the ball enough, McCarthy will turn over the play-calling duties on offense to offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, as is his custom for the final preseason game. “Joe’s calling the plays, and the guys are on him already about not running the ball,” McCarthy said with a laugh Tuesday. “I hope he doesn’t try to break a record throwing it. We’ve thrown it enough this preseason so we’re hoping to get our run totals up. You’d never know he coached the offensive line, that’s for sure.” Runs or no runs, the fact is that Philbin is an underrated coach working for an offensive-oriented head coach who also calls the plays on game-day. Games like this must be fun for him.
– Jason Wilde