It’s the final week of the preseason and the Packers will take the field against the Kansas City Chiefs. This will be the fifth consecutive season in which the Packers have faced the Chiefs in the final game of the preseason. The Packers are 2-2 in the previous four games and the Chiefs have outscored the Packers by a combined score of 69-65. Don’t expect a ton of points from Green Bay; the most they’ve scored against Kansas City in the final preseason game was 24 points and of course the Packers will be without the majority of their starters on offense. We all know this game isn’t about the score or even winning the game though; the Packers will be looking to evaluate as many players as they can before cutting down the roster to 53 players. Additionally, they will try and get out of the game as healthy as possible. While cheering for a clean bill of health for the Packers, here are a few things to watch:
Eric Fisher vs. Nick Perry
It’s still early for Fisher, but the term “bust” has already been thrown out for both of these talented former first round draft choices. Matthews and Peppers aren’t going to see much, if any, playing time on Thursday, so it very well could be Nick Perry getting the bulk of the work at ROLB. That will match him up nicely with the first pick from last years draft, Eric Fisher. Both players could use a confidence boost and going against one another may be just what they need. The loser of this battle could be in for a long year, and it’s not inconceivable that if Perry would continue to struggle that he could be out of a job during final cut downs.
Jamari Lattimore & Sam Barrington vs. Knile Davis, De’Anthony Thomas & Cyrus Gray
While the Packers have shown off their depth at running back this preseason, the Chiefs boast a talented group of running backs as well. We all know how dangerous and talented Jamaal Charles is, but the Chiefs have stockpiled depth by adding Davis, Thomas, and Gray to the roster over the past few years. All three have looked dangerous during the preseason and can be a mismatch in the open field. This will be a great challenge for Lattimore and Barrington and hopefully both are capable of stepping up and shutting down the Chiefs run game this Thursday.
Jeff Janis vs. Phillip Gaines
This is the story of two gifted athletes drafted in the 2014 draft who simply need time to develop. Gaines should have a roster spot locked up as a recent 3rd round draft choice, but Janis is still fighting for his spot on the team. Gaines has struggled a bit this preseason, and Janis has only had a limited amount of time to show what he is capable of. These two have the talent to be big time performers as time goes on, but in the meantime both will try to show they deserve a role on their respective teams.
Matt Flynn vs. Scott Tolzien (Take 4)
Mike McCarthy said this week that Tolzien and Flynn aren’t just competing against each other, but that both are also competing for a roster spot on the team. While it remains possible that the Packers could keep three quarterbacks on the team, I don’t see it as likely, and this could be the game that finally decides who the Packers keep. There has also been speculation that the Rams could pick up whichever quarterback is cut by the Packers since they lost Sam Bradford. This is a great audition for both quarterbacks but I don’t expect there to be a ton of desire for the player that gets cut, especially if that player is Matt Flynn.
With B.J. Raji officially going on injured reserve today, the Packers will no doubt be looking long and hard at how the players on the roster perform at nose tackle this Thursday. The three players with the most to gain are Letroy Guion, Mike Pennel, and Carlos Gray. It is possible that all three could make the team but the Packers will be pressed to make a decision on their defensive interior sooner rather than later. The competition should be intense, but the winner could be starting week one against Seattle.
There is no harder position to predict right now than the outside linebacker position for the Packers. As mentioned previously, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and Clay Matthews are locks to make the team. After that everything seems up for grabs. To complicate matters, the Packers have played both Carl Bradford and Nate Palmer a bit at inside linebacker this week either to switch their positions or diversify their skill sets. Between Perry, Bradford, Palmer, Mulumba, Elliott, and Hubbard, the position could be completely up for grabs. It’s not a great sign for Palmer or Bradford that they are switching positions so late in the game, but anything remains possible.
Thank you for reading. Andy Herman is a staff writer for Titletown Sound Off. You can follow him on Twitter @SconnieSports. For even more Packers content, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.