This final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans should be a good one to watch for many reasons. I think the fans should be excited about this game because, not only is it the last game before the 53-man roster is set, but also because of the high level of competition from the other side of the ball as well.
As long as the Packers' starters are in the game, they will be facing a team that has the potential to be a Super Bowl team in Tennessee, coached by Jeff Fisher. His teams are always very aggressive. One thing that worries me is that they often get lots of penalties, and they might draw the Packers into the same kind of game.
I will really be looking for the Packers to come out fast in this game. That needs to be a focus of the team this year. I'd love to see them come out, force a turnover, and get on the scoreboard first. When you go on the road, you always look to score first and take the home crowd out of the game.
Tennessee is a tough place to play. The Titans really play well in that stadium, but if you can get up on any team early, you can really take them out of their game.
Tennessee is going through a transition in their running game. They let their long-time veteran running back, Eddie George, move on to Dallas for whatever reason. They will still try to establish the run with Chris Brown, though.
Quarterback Steve McNair is coming off a co-MVP season. The Titans' whole offense is set up around their quarterback. Play-action, run the ball - control the clock.
Tennessee uses a lot of perimeter runs, which are sometimes hard to defend. I think our guys are up to the task, though. Their offensive line is big and aggressive. The Packers' defensive line has played really well this preseason, and the linebackers have played well also. They held Jacksonville without a touchdown last week, and I'd like to see them keep that streak up heading into the regular season.
The Packers' defense will be getting the kind of tune-up that they will need for the regular season opener against Carolina which is coming up soon. Tennessee is very, very physical, and that's the Packers' game, too.
The offensive line is starting to jell, and everyone is going to be out there for the first time all preseason.
I'm looking forward to seeing the offensive line together on the field for the first game this year. It will be good for Mike Flanagan to get a game under his belt, since he missed most of training camp. If the starting five can be out there for at least 10-15 plays, I think that will be enough for them to build some continuity heading into Carolina next week.
I'm not really sure how the quarterback rotation is going to go. It looks like Doug Pederson has the #2 spot locked up, so it will be intriguing to see how Craig Nall, Tim Couch and Scott McBrien perform against the Titans. They will all be vying for time since this will be the last chance to show what they can do before the roster reductions.
I think the Packers will try to establish the running game early. I expect to see a lot of good things from Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher. I think Nick Luchey will get a chance to carry the ball a few times, too, so that should be interesting.
The fans will also be excited, because I think this offense is going to take plenty of shots down the field, not just Friday night, but all season long. The Packers are going to be more aggressive than ever this year with the long passing game.
Tennessee has a lot of injuries in their secondary right now, so I think this will be a game to exploit the downfield passing attack.
As far as the Packers' secondary, Michael Hawthorne has a strained back, so Ahmad Carroll could be looking at his first NFL start. I think it would be good for him to start a game, because he's going to be playing a large role in this defense all season long.
It's good to see the young guys get another road trip, just to give them more of a feel of how everything is on the road. You have to win on the road to be successful in the NFL. They have to find out what they need to do, as far as studying their playbooks and getting proper rest, knowing that you have to play mistake-free football.
If the Packers can cut the penalties down in this game, and don't turn the ball over, I think they have a really good chance to come away with the win, regardless of how much the starters play.
This game will give us a pretty good preview of what to expect when the Titans come to Green Bay for Monday Night Football on October 11.
The thing that's tough about playing a team in the preseason that you will be playing again in the regular season is that you really get scouted almost double.
With these two coaches, though, they know each other a little bit and they know what each others' philosophies are, so I think they will probably scale back a little bit. Next week, the real bullets will be flying though, so I predict that both teams will use this game to gear up for the regular season.
For a lot of guys, this game could be the difference in making the roster, making the practice squad, or maybe not making it at all. There's a lot of pressure to show the coaches what you can do, because that 53-man roster will be set on Sunday. This will be their last shot to build on the impression they've made over the course of the last four weeks in camp.
In that respect, I think this game will be a good chance for some of the reserve players to really make their mark. They probably will get an extended look, and Tennessee is a team with good depth and good special teams, so they will have a challenge to perform well.
*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 Packers.com 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, leroybutler36.com.*