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Butler: Don't Worry, The Real Games Are Still To Come


With the storm that passed through Florida over the weekend, power was knocked out at my house and I wasn't able to see most of Friday night's game against Tennessee.

Since I can't really provide any analysis from a game I didn't see, today's column will be an overview of the where the Packers are as they head into the season.

I've been getting a lot of e-mails from fans who are worried about the 1-3 record in the preseason, but I'd like to put their mind at ease about the upcoming season.

Preseason is a time where you evaluate talent. Winning games is always important, but the most important things in the preseason are to get a good look at the young guys, and keep everybody healthy for the regular season. Winning games in August will not determine who wins the Super Bowl in February.

This Packers team is going to be a good one. 20 of the 22 starters are back from last year's team that was a playoff team. The framework is still in place. The offensive line is in tact. They still have Brett Favre, they still have Ahman Green. Brett's got three more-than-capable receivers to throw to, so the offense should be just as good or better than the offense everyone saw in 2003.

I do think the preseason schedule was a good proving ground for the Packers heading into the regular season. They got a chance to play against two quality teams from the NFC they will be battling for playoff positions.

The Packers also got a chance to see a couple of opponents from the AFC that they will meet again during the regular season.

The only thing I didn't really like about the schedule was that the team will be on the road for three straight weeks, including the opener in Carolina. That will get everyone used to the traveling life in the NFL, so even the rookies will be veterans by the end of the stint of games away from home.

The key to the preseason is to get through it with no major injuries. You want to be able to go into the regular season with all of your ammunition, and I think the Packers were successful in that regard.

The preseason is what it is. You hope to just make it without any of your starters getting hurt. That has affected a lot of teams in the past few seasons. Luckily, the Packers will be at full strength going into Carolina next Monday.

Looking at the roster, I think the Packers will be a very competitive team in 2004. The starters are as good as any starting 22 in the league, and there is depth at a lot of positions as well.

I'm glad that Jason Horton made the team. He's a young cornerback who has proved that he could be very good one day. He's really worked hard all through training camp and made it impossible for the coaches to get rid of him.

The coaching staff kept the best 53 guys on the roster, and I think they are going to win a lot of games this year.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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