THE WEEK PAST: Although the record lists it as an "L' rather than the desired "W," the Packers' losing venture at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium over the weekend was hardly cause for alarm.
For example, the offense - without starters Terry Glenn and Mike Flanagan - for example, turned in an acceptable effort, rushing for 164 yards and closing out the evening with 311 total yards as opposed to the Eagles' 291 - in a typical preseason contest where both teams substituted extensively, diminishing the chances for a cohesive performance on either side of the football.
And the first defense, which played only the first two series, gave considerable cause for satisfaction, not permitting the Eagles a first down during its on-field tenure, a presence limited to six plays and consisting of back-to-back "three-and-out" efforts.
The initial defensive effort was particularly impressive because the first unit was missing four starters - power end Vonnie Holliday, weak side linebacker Nate Wayne, right cornerback Tyrone Williams and strong safety Antuan Edwards.
There also were some encouraging individual performances along the way. On offense, free agent running back Tony Fisher of Notre Dame continued to impress, emerging as the Green and Gold's rushing leader with 55 yards in 9 attempts, a 6.1-yard average.
Third-year pro Rondell Mealey, also in the competition for the backup role behind starting halfback Ahman Green, scored the Packers' touchdown on a 7-yard run into the left corner of the end zone and contributed 30 yards in 11 attempts overall.
Wideout Charles Lee, another third-year performer, also made his presence felt, leading the receivers with 3 catches for 30 yards.
Safety Matt Bowen, a consistent performer in training camp to date, paced the defensive with 6 tackles, 4 of them unassisted. Three others, first-year corner back Erwin Swiney - who had an interception negated by a penalty, and defensive tackles Aaron Kampman and Ken Kocher, the former a fifth-round draft selection, also weighed in with 4 solo tackles.
As scheduled, quarterback Brett Favre played only into the second minute of the second quarter, long enough to preside over the Packers' touchdown, completing 6 of 10 passes for 53 yards overall, with one interception.
GM/HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN'S POSTGAME COMMENTS:
(on being pleased with the starting defense) "I was pleased because that's a new defense. We didn't have Vonnie (Holliday), we didn't have Antuan Edwards there to start the game...(or) Ty Williams...So we had some guys nicked up a little bit. We didn't have Nate Wayne. So I was excited that we were able to be strong early in the game."
(on the receivers) "At this point right now, I think our receivers are coming around. I think it's a group that has been revamped and I think we are finding out that we have some pretty good players in that group. We have to get 'em healthy, but when we do, I think we're going to have a good receiving corps."
(on the O-line) "Our offensive line, I believe, is going to be a strong group of men. I'm concerned about our depth but I feel our starting crops is pretty good."
(on special teams) "We're still looking for a punt returner - not that (Darrien) Gordon did anything poor today. It's not a solid position just yet, And (Robert) Ferguson as our kick returner...I don't think we've answered those questions yet."
(on quarterback Brett Favre) "We were going to play him the first quarter. That's what we planned and we stuck to our plan.
"And, I wish our defense would have gotten more (plays). We were going to play them the first quarter but they only got six plays...our first defense. But it was how we planned to play the game - a quarter."
(on whether Brett Favre is throwing the ball better than he ever has in his career) "I don't think you can go just by today. But, in practice, he has had some great shots. And he's throwing the ball very well for us."
(on Favre's first quarter interception) "He and I had a little conversation about that on the sideline. He thinks that he can make every throw, but I told him it's a little bit more difficult when guys are hanging off your back. Brett thought (Donald) Driver was on his way back, and he just didn't get enough on it."
(on the play of Donald Driver, who started in place of Terry Glenn) "I think Donald - I know he was disappointed over that post route that he had in his grasp. Brett could have led him just a little bit more. The ball was knocked out - he ran a good route. You know, Donald Driver's a pretty consistent player."
(on the play of third-year safety Matt Bowen) "Matt Bowen did a nice job in the game...made some nice plays...was where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there...This is the week we were going to move him over to the other safety position and protect ourselves with him as well...Matt's done nothing but impress me since he's been here with his work ethic and his ability to make plays."
(on the competition for the backup position behind Ahman Green at running back) "I was impressed with (Tony) Fisher. He's run like that in practice and continued that running in the game. The only thing is it wasn't against their first defense. It was against their second defense, so it's not a great barometer, although they have a good second defense. And I thought (Herbert) Goodman ran hard as well."
(on wide receiver Terry Glenn) "Terry Glenn is progressing. He's had some very good practices. We had a scare with him in practice when he went to make a catch and fell back. We thought he might have a torn ACL, but as it turns out, it was a mild sprain. He wanted to play tonight so we traveled him, but he was a little stiff so we didn't utilize him. Hopefully he'll be back next week."
(on running back Ki-Jana Carter) "He did not play because he has a hot Achilles and we just wanted to let that heal up. We didn't need him tonight, but we kept him, dressed in case we ran out of guys. If he had to play, he would have played. We wanted to hold him back as much as we could."
(on whether 12-4 will be good enough to win the NFC North Division) "Obviously the Bears are planning on winning our division just like the other teams in our division. You have to take every game and try like the dickens to win that game and hope it's good enough. It wasn't last year. We lost some games we should have won, and we probably won some games that we should have lost. Twelve wins usually does it, but if it takes 13, that's what we need to get."
THE PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:
Quarterback Brett Favre: (on rookie wide receiver Javon Walker) "He's going to be good - he really is. He may not realize it now, but he will be. What I like about him is he's got a lot of talent...And he wants to be good."
Fullback William Henderson: (on the game performance) "Overall, I thought we had a pretty good night. All of us got in a pretty good groove. Now we have to start to compete for positions. We know there has to be improvement each week in our running game. We really don't know what is going to happen. We know we have to keep on going."
Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher: (on the same subject) "We know at this stage that we're not going to win every time we go out. As a unit, we have some things we need to improve. But I thought we did all right. It looked like the second and third units were protecting pretty well. Our starting quarterback did a nice job in there. So did their quarterback (Donovan McNabb)."
Rookie wide receiver Javon Walker: (on his progress) "You know, hopefully there will be a game where I make a great catch and I can say, 'I'm here. For the present, I'm just going to keep trying to learn."
(on playing against the Eagles' veteran cornerbacks and being hurt in the first quarter) "I felt that I had played well against the Eagles cornerbacks even though I was slowed down in the first quarter when I turned an ankle. I came in the next play and was a little sore but there are a lot of guys fighting for positions out there and I did not let it bother me."
Wide receiver Robert Ferguson: (on his apparent injury) "My groin has been nagging at me a little bit. I have no concerns about it, though. I just have to work through it. I can't afford to take any days off. We moved the ball around enough tonight. But we know that we have to get things going in the next few games."
Quarterback Doug Pederson: (on being a veteran player and what the first preseason game means to a team) "It is always nice to get back to the game after being away from it so long. In a game like this you are trying to get the blood flowing and working on your reads with your receivers. You are not accustomed to getting hit because of being away from the game for so long and as a quarterback, you have to get back to this. We will be back to camp this week and get ready for the next game."
(on his 28-yard second quarter ramble, easily one of the longest "rushes" of his 10-year NFL career) "It was nice to run."
-Saturday night's contest marked the Packers' first preseason appearance in Philadelphia since 1945. On that occasion, the Eagles prevailed before 90,218 fans, which remains the largest crowd the Packers ever have played before against an NFL opponent in a preseason game.
-The game also was the Packers' final appearance in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. The Eagles will be playing in a new venue, Lincoln Financial Field, in 2003.
-The Packers had an organizational birthday over the weekend. The first meeting of the team was held 83 years ago - on the evening of August 11, 1919, in the editorial department of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
-Largely because of injury concerns, no fewer than five changes were made in the Packers' starting lineups for Saturday night's game. On defense, Joe Johnson opened at Vonnie Holliday's power end spot - moving from the right flank; Rob Holmberg started at weak side linebacker for Nate Wayne and, in the secondary, Tod McBride opened at right cornerback for Tyrone Williams and rookie Marques Anderson for Antuan Edwards at strong safety. In the overall process, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila started for Joe Johnson at his customary right end station. On offense, Donald Driver started at wide receiver for Terry Glenn.
-Overall, 72 of the 75 Packers in uniform saw action in the game. Another 13 did not dress.
-Specialist Louie Aguiar, re-signed as a free agent on Friday, made his '02 debut in the fourth quarter, delivering a 60-yard kickoff following Ryan Longwell's second and last field goal of the evening. Unfortunately, the ball veered out of bounds and, as a consequence, had to be brought out to the Eagles' 40-yard line.
-The Packers enjoyed a substantial advantage in time of possession in the first quarter, holding the football for 11 minutes and 34 seconds while the Eagles owned the leather for only 3 minutes, 26 seconds.
-Statistically, the Packers' registered six first downs during that opening period while the Eagles drew a blank in that department.
-Doug Pederson, taking over from Favre at quarterback early in the second quarter, proceeded to guide a field goal drive which sent the Packers out front for the second and last time in the game (10-7), also making a major contribution to the project with a 28-yard excursion when he was flushed out of the pocket, an effort which positioned Ryan Longwell for the field goal which ensued just three plays later.
-Rookie running back Tony Fisher later matched Pederson's effort with a 28-yard run in the fourth quarter, which launched the Packers' drive for their second Longwell field goal of the game.
-It didn't take rookie wideout Javon Walker, the Packers' first round draft choice, to make his presence known. He pulled in a 6-yard Brett Favre pass for a first down on the third play of the game.
-Walker, incidentally, was given ample opportunity to strengthen his "relationship" with quarterback Brett Favre in the passing game, being on the field for 17 of the 22 snaps Favre took from center before retiring to the sideline early in the second quarter.
-Former Packers running back Dorsey Levens, who joined the Eagles as a free agent earlier this year, also made a "statement" to his new team. Entering the game in the second quarter, he rushed for 64 yards in 8 attempts, closing the 68-yard scoring drive with a 7-yard run over the pylon at the right corner of the goal line for the score, which made it a 7-7 tie at the time.
-Frank Winters (offense), Hardy Nickerson (defense) and Rob Davis (special teams) were the Packers' team captains for the preseason opener.
-Crosby Reid, daughter of Eagles head coach Andy Reid, sang the national anthem prior to Saturday night's contest. Her father, commenting later on her performance, confided, "I was nervous about that. My knees were shaking a little bit. Not that I did not have confidence in her. I have plenty of confidence in her. She is only 14 years old. She was out there with that 700 level and I was a little bit nervous. She did a great job and I 'm proud of her."