Tonight the Green Bay Packers (1-1) will be hosting the Seattle Seahawks (2-0) in their third preseason game of the 2013-2014 NFL season. Even though it is just a preseason game, both teams will be looking to prove their rank among the elite of the NFC, and fans should expect to see a heavy dose of Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.
The Packers and Seahawks will be meeting for the first time since the "Fail Mary" debacle in Seattle last year, and it is safe to say that there is tension between the two teams. The Packers struggled against the Arizona Cardinals in the first week of preseason, but the Pack bounced back last Saturday with a 19-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
So far the Seahawks have been dominating the preseason. In the first week, the Seahawks defeated the San Diego Chargers 31-10, and last Saturday the Seahawks destroyed the Denver Broncos and came away with a 40-10 victory. After a surprising 11-5 record in the 2012 season the Seahawks won't be sneaking up on anybody this year, but it's clear the Seahawks are sending a message to the league to show they are here to stay.
The third preseason game is essentially the dress rehearsal for opening week and most of the starters on both teams will receive extensive playing time. After struggling to finish off drives in the first two games, expect head coach Mike McCarthy to test his offense early on in the game.
For the Packers there are several players and position battles that will receive extra attention tonight.
The Pack know what they have in Aaron Rodgers, but this third preseason game will be critical in order to build some chemistry with some of the younger wide outs vying for a roster spot. Wide receivers such as Jarrett Boykin, Myles White and Tyrone White need as much time playing with Rodgers as possible because one, if not two, of them will be depended on to be the number four (or five) receiver.
Charles Johnson, 24, has finally returned after suffering an injury early on in camp. Although it is unclear if Johnson will play in tonight's game, the rookie from Grand Valley State will have to play catch-up in the wide receiver competition. If he plays tonight he is a player Packer fans should watch out for.
The running game will once again receive a considerable amount of attention tonight. Packer nation has already fallen in love with Eddie Lacy after seeing the bruising running back run all over the Rams last week. With DuJuan Harris returning this week the Packers will finally have a chance to look at their one-two punch in the backfield. Harris, 24, is build like a third-down back (5-8 203lbs), but last year he gained the respect of McCarthy and his teammates and earned the right to compete for carries on all three downs.
The offensive line will also have its first real test of the preseason. Last year in the "Fail Mary" game the Packers offensive line struggled mightily against the Seahawks and gave up eight sacks that Monday night. This preseason the Packers line will be slightly reshuffled and hopefully the Pack see some improvement.
This could be Marshall Newhouse's last chance to unseat Don Barclay at right tackle, even though Barclay looks like a clear-cut front runner as of now. Newhouse has starting experience but his best role for the team may be as a swing tackle since he has played both right and left tackle in NFL games.
The defense will also have its first look this preseason at an athletic quarterback in Russell Wilson. After struggling with the likes of Colin Kaepernick and the spread option last season, the Packers have spent the whole offseason trying to figure out the best way to stop the attack. Don't expect the Seahawks to feature the option in an irrelevant preseason game, but it is crucial the Packers continue to face elite quarterback talent.
M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian could also be playing for the starting safety spot opposite Morgan Burnett tonight. Even though Packer fans should expect both safeties to play a big role in the defense, the hope is that one will emerge as the starter. If Jennings can show tonight that he is a willing and capable tackler the job may be his for the keeping.
The regular season is right around the corner and the Green Bay Packers will be competing for another NFC North and NFC championship title this season. Packers and Seahawks fans alike should tune in tonight at 8:00pm on CBS to check out the action.
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