PRESEASON ACTION KICKS OFF
- The Green Bay Packers' 2009 season officially kicks off tonight as the Cleveland Browns come to Lambeau Field for a preseason contest.
- Green Bay lines up against another opponent for the first time since Dec. 28 of last year, when it defeated the Detroit Lions in the season finale.
- Though 21 of 22 primary starters from 2008 return, there is plenty new about the 2009 Packers.
- Tonight marks the debut of rookie and free-agent acquisitions, as well as a potentially high-octane offense that spent its first offseason together. Under the direction of Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the offensive play-caller, the unit ranked No. 8 in total offense a season ago. For the first time in the franchise's storied history, it had a 4,000-yard passer (Aaron Rodgers), two 1,000-yard receivers (Donald Driver and Greg Jennings) and a 1,200-yard rusher (Ryan Grant).
- Most eyes, however, will be on the debut of the Packers' new 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Hired Jan. 19, Capers begins his 24th season in the National Football League.
- As has been the case under McCarthy in previous preseasons, starters aren't expected to play more than a few series. Maintaining the health of the football team will be the ultimate determining factor, as will the need to see a number of younger players in live game action. Teams must make the first roster cut, to 75 players, on Sept. 1.
- The game marks the 21st preseason meeting in the all-time series between Cleveland and Green Bay. The Packers came away with a 38-31 victory in the last meeting in 2003.
MIDWEST SHRINE GAME
- One of the NFL's longest team traditions, the Upper Midwest Shrine Game kicks off its 60th installment tonight.
- Each season, the Packers donate a percentage of the gate to the Shriners' Hospitals for Children.
- The Shriners' facilities provide specialized medical services, helping children with birth defects and other injuries, at absolutely no cost.
- To date, the series has raised more than $3.1 million for the Midwest Shrine's burn centers and hospitals for disabled children.
- Green Bay is 30-26-3 all-time in the series. Cleveland played Green Bay in the game in 1983 – a 21-20 Browns victory.
- The series has called three separate stadiums home: Milwaukee's State Fair Park (1950-51), Milwaukee County Stadium (1952-82, 1984-94) and Lambeau Field (1983, 1995-present).
- In his first season leading the Packers, Vince Lombardi made an agreement with George Halas to play in the Shrine game annually. Green Bay and Chicago played each preseason in County Stadium from 1959-73.
- The Packers annually designate the Shrine game as the first 'Gold package' game for season-ticket holders primarily from the Milwaukee area. The team created the three-game package after moving all of its home games to Green Bay in 1995. Also in the 'Gold package' this season are the contests against Cincinnati (Sept. 20) and Dallas (Nov. 15).
WHERE THEY'LL BE
- Coaches often use the preseason as a test to see where they are best utilized, especially with a new staff. Coach McCarthy is on the sidelines, but here's a look at where the rest of the staff will be:
- Press Box: Dom Capers (defensive coordinator), Jerry Fontenot (asst. offensive line), Scott McCurley (defensive quality control), Chad Morton (administrator), Joe Philbin (offensive coordinator), John Rushing (offensive quality control), and Joe Whitt (secondary - cornerbacks).
- Sideline: Edgar Bennett (running backs), James Campen (offensive line), Tom Clements (quarterbacks), Mike Eayrs (research and development), Curtis Fuller (special teams asst.), Kevin Greene (outside linebackers), Ben McAdoo (tight ends), Winston Moss (inside linebackers/asst. head coach), Darren Perry (secondary - safeties), Jimmy Robinson (wide receivers), Shawn Slocum (special teams coordinator) and Mike Trgovac (defensive line).
Browns DE Corey Williams played for the Packers for four seasons (2004-07) after being selected by Green Bay in the sixth round of the 2004 Draft. He was traded to the Browns for a second-round pick in 2008, which turned out to be QB Brian Brohm...Browns LB David Bowens played for the Packers in 2000 and RB Noah Herron played for Green Bay for two seasons (2005-06) before missing the 2007 season with a knee injury and then being released at the end of training camp last summer...Browns WR Paul Hubbard and T Joe Thomas played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin...Browns QB Brady Quinn and Packers LB A.J. Hawk are brothers-in-law, with Hawk's wife Laura being Quinn's sister...Browns QB Derek Anderson and Packers LB Nick Barnett were college teammates at Oregon State...Packers T Chad Clifton used to block for Browns RB Jamal Lewis in college at Tennessee...Browns LB Kaluka Maiava and Packers LB Clay Matthews played in the same LB corps at USC and were both drafted this year...Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi and Packers RB Kregg Lumpkin and DE Jarius Wynn were college teammates at Georgia. Massaquoi and Wynn were both drafted this past April...Browns LB Bo Ruud and Packers RB Brandon Jackson were college teammates at Nebraska, as were Packers LB Brandon Chillar and Browns DL Kenyon Coleman at UCLA...Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin tutored Browns OL Eric Steinbach at Iowa.
SAVE THE DATE
Important dates to remember (all times local):
- Saturday, Aug. 22 – Preseason game vs. Buffalo Bills, 7 p.m., Lambeau Field
- Friday, Aug. 28 – Preseason game at Arizona Cardinals, 9 p.m., University of Phoenix Stadium
- Tuesday, Sept. 1 – Final practice open to public, 10:15 a.m., Nitschke Field; NFL-mandated roster reduction, to 75 players, by 3 p.m.
- Thursday, Sept. 3 – Preseason game at Tennessee Titans, 7 p.m., LP Field
- Saturday, Sept. 5 – NFL-mandated roster reduction, to 53 players, by 3 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 6 – Clubs may establish eight-player practice squad, 11 a.m.
WEARING THE STRIPES
Tonight's officiating crew includes referee Jeff Triplette (42), umpire Bruce Stritesky (102), head linesman Steve Stelljes (22), line judge Mike Spanier (90), field judge Boris Cheek (41), side judge Dave Wyant (16) and back judge Steve Freeman (133).