Live action matters most in evaluations

Packers' preseason opener will carry most weight of anything in camp so far


GREEN BAY -- With the first preseason game on the horizon, the assessment of players for roster spots takes on more meaning.

"This will be the first evaluation in live action, so this will definitely carry the most weight of anything we've done to date," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday, two days before the Packers' preseason opener vs. Philadelphia. "We always weigh the games higher than a practice. You take in everything, but this is real football Thursday night."

General Manager Ted Thompson echoed those sentiments.

"Yes, preseason games are very important," Thompson said in his weekly media address. "I can speak from experience. When I was a rookie as a player, it helped me get comfortable around the veteran players when I was able to make a tackle on the kickoff team or do something on the punt team.

"It's a wonderful time to try to make the team, and if you do make it, it's very special, but you have to earn it, and that's what all these guys will be trying to do over the course of the next several weeks."

Based on the practice reps from Monday, it appears starting QB Aaron Rodgers won't be playing on Thursday. He's running the scout team this week.

As for whether Rodgers would play any more in the preseason than he did last year, when he played in one game, McCarthy said it's to be determined. He's more focused right now on getting opportunities in games for the younger players, and seeing certain combinations of players work together.

A lot of eyes will be on backup QB Brett Hundley, and McCarthy wants to see him "play fast," as he's done in the past. Thompson sounded just as eager to see Hundley take the field again after being limited in last year's preseason due to injury.

"I like to see generalship. I like to see him run the show, take charge, be exact," Thompson said. "If someone lines up in the wrong spot, I like to see him get him moved, like Aaron would do."

Veteran CB Davon House missed Monday's practice with a hamstring injury, and McCarthy categorized him as day-to-day. He has no "long-term concern."

Assuming House sits out on Thursday, there will be even more reps for the younger cornerbacks looking to establish their place on the depth chart and earn roster spots.

The Packers have a lot to sort out over the next month, with workout data, practice tape, intangibles, etc., but the scout in Thompson emphasized that "we're never too far away from 'is this guy a player or not?'" Plain and simple, the best indicator of that is game film.

"It's not an exact science," he said. "It's a fascinating process, and no two years are alike. Your problems one year are going to be different the next year, and your plusses one year are going to be different next year.

"You're always evaluating your team."

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