Winless Tennessee will visit historic Lambeau Field for a rare
Friday afternoon preseason contest with the 1-2 Packers. Green Bay
requested the game be changed from 7:00 pm to 3:00 pm in order not to
conflict with Friday night high school football games, a request the
Titans were happy to accommodate.
The teams have a common
preseason opponent in the Atlanta Falcons, who beat Tennessee 20-6 and
fell to the Packers 38-10. The Packers are experiencing an extremely
short week, playing Friday afternoon after an embarrassing 48-17 loss
in Cincinnati Monday night.
Field: grass. Forecast: mostly sunny, high 74°, ENE wind between 3 and 9 mph. Kickoff: 3:00 pm, CT.
Packers Scouting Report
New head coach Mike McCarthy is reunited with future Hall-of-Famer
Brett Favre and inherits a team that was 4-12 after an injury-riddled
season last year. The 2005 season was the worst in Favre’s career (29
INTs, 70.9 rating) and he played poorly in Cincinnati after a great
game against the Falcons. Which Favre will show up Friday? He’s
expected to see only limited action. Second-year player Aaron Rodgers,
once considered a #1 prospect before dropping to 24th in the draft last
year, is his backup.
The offense was seventh in the league in
passing yardage (235.4 ypg) but only 30th in rushing with 84.5 yards
per game last year. That should change with the return of RBs Ahman
Green and Najeh Davenport who were injured last season. Samkon Gado,
who filled in for them, also returns. An Atlanta writer said Gado
looked like Hornung, Taylor, and Brockington rolled into one after
running over the Falcons two weeks ago. The backs will run behind a new
zone-blocking system being installed in Green Bay, which is similar to
Denver’s and Atlanta’s zone blocking the Titans faced the last two
weeks. However, the Pack’s O-line is neither as good nor as experienced
as the Bronco and Falcon lines.
One man Favre will miss again
this year is WR Javon Walker, who’s now in Denver after a season-ending
injury last year. WR Donald Driver (86 catches, 1,221 yards, 5 TDs in
2005) remains as the main weapon and Robert Ferguson (27, 366, 3) is on
the other side. Veteran Bubba Franks (25, 207, 1) is the TE.
Packers should theoretically improve their league-leading pass defense
of last year (167.5 ypg) with the addition of CB Charles Woodson and SS
Marquand Manuel. But maybe not. Woodson was burned for two TDs by the
Bengals Monday night, giving up 4 catches for 84 yards in the first
half. Eight-year veteran Al Harris (14 career INTs) is the other corner
and second-year man Nick Collins (84 tackles) is the free safety. One
reason the pass defense may have received the number one ranking is
because opponents preferred to run the ball against a defense which
ranked only 23rd against the rush (125.6 ypg) last year.
Nick Barnett (138 tackles) heads the 4-3 defense, playing in between #5
overall draft selection weakside LB A.J. Hawk and former Brown
strongside LB Ben Taylor (113 tackles).
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (57½ sacks in 5 years) and Aaron Kampman (81
tackles, 6½ sacks) lead the D-line. Former Ram Ryan Pickett (65
tackles) and three-year vet Colin Cole (40 tackles) will be called on
Rookie Arliss Beach and Davenport (24.1 yard career
average) will return kicks while Woodson (6.4 career avg) and rookie
Greg Jennings are the punt returners. Dave Rayner comes from the Colts
to assume the kicking duties and must now compete with strong-legged
E.J. Cochrane, who has just been claimed off waivers. Rookie Jon Ryan
will be the punter. The Packers were ninth in punt return defense at
6.9 ypr last year and ranked 12th in kick return defense (21.6 ypr).Expected Strategies
Green Bay’s best O-lineman, LT Chad Clifton, will block Travis LaBoy
and Bo Schobel at RDE, a position of concern for the Titans.
The Packer starters played well into the third quarter Monday night,
and with only three days between games, most of them will see little
action Friday afternoon. McCarthy said he hoped to give several Packers
rest, including Favre. The only Green Bay practice scheduled for this
week was Wednesday. This looks like McCarthy will be giving reserves
plenty of playing time and using the game as a final exam before
trimming the roster to 53 on Saturday. If that’s the case, expect more
vanilla football without any new X’s and O’s. The Packers would like to
run the ball a lot if they can.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher said
the playing time and substitutions would be about the same as last
week. One announced change - RB Chris Brown will start with Travis
Henry and then LenDale White in relief. Fisher has so far declined to
name his starting quarterback.
WR coach Ray Sherman came to the Titans from Green Bay after coaching
the receivers there from 2000-04. Punter Craig Hentrich, who played
there from 1994-97, came here in 1998 as part of the second Tennessee
Oiler team. Safeties/nickelbacks coach Chuck Cecil played for the
Packers from 1988-92, earning the reputation of a fierce hitter. Titans
rookie WR Jonathan Orr played his college ball at Wisconsin. Nashville
native Ingle Martin was the Packers’ fifth-round draft pick this year
and is third on the QB depth chart. Packers GM Ted Thompson was a
linebacker for the Houston Oilers from 1975-84.
Before a Monday night prime-time national audience, the 2004 Titans
blew out the Packers 48-27 at Lambeau behind Brown (148 yards, 2 TDs)
and Steve McNair (15/26, 206 yards, 2 TDs). The Titans and Packers have
played each other in preseason games four straight years, with the
Packers winning 21-17 last year.
TE Erron Kinney, DE Antwan Odom, TE Gregg Guenther, and LB Cody Spencer
will be out for the Titans. Green Bay FB William Henderson, recovering
from knee surgery, will not play. RB Ahman Green, returning from quad
surgery last year, will probably play only one series and then sit out
for the rest of the game in a planned move as part of his scheduled
return to action.
need to win a game to change the mood and attitude of the team. Fisher
has announced the starters will play into the second half, and because
much of their playing time will come against the Packer reserves, they
should outplay and outscore Green Bay.
Titans 20, Packers 13
Read Andrew Strickert's blog at Total Titans.