The Green Bay Packers and their opponents have finalized dates and kickoff times for their final three preseason games, the Packers announced Tuesday.
The team announced its preseason opponents March 22, including an Aug. 16 opener with Seattle on ESPN, but needed the last two weeks to finalize details with the Saints, Jaguars and their respective TV partners, and to confirm a tentative Sept. 3 kickoff at Tennessee, who plays Monday night, Aug. 30.
The Packers' broadcast partners will air the final three games throughout Wisconsin and the upper Midwest. The partnership, in its second season, features an excellent game production team, led by producer Ross Schneiderman and director Suzanne Smith, who've combined for eight Emmy Awards in their previous coverage of NFL games. Bill Maas serves as color analyst, joining sideline reporter Jessie Garcia, pregame and halftime analyst Larry McCarren and play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan, who called last night's national college basketball championship on Westwood One radio.
By playing their third preseason game on a Friday - at Jacksonville Aug. 27 - GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman and his staff will have an extra 24 hours to evaluate players before the NFL's first roster reduction date, Aug. 31. By 3 p.m. CDT that day Green Bay's roster must stand at 65, not counting exemptions for those currently in NFL Europe. The last time the club played that game - the contest before the first cutdown date - as early as Friday was 1994, when Green Bay played at New Orleans the Friday before a Tuesday reduction date.
After their Sept. 3 preseason finale, with Tennessee for a third consecutive year, the Packers must reduce their roster to 53 players by 3 p.m. CDT Sept. 5.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced March 29 the Packers will open the regular season at Carolina Sept. 13 on ABC's Monday Night Football. The NFL is expected to announce the balance of the 2004 regular-season slate by May.
But before that opener, the Packers will have at least three more roster decisions than they've had in previous years.
At last week's Annual NFL Meetings in Florida, owners also agreed to expand the practice squad from five to eight players, meaning the Packers could bring back three more players they waive during preseason. In 2003, they used the practice squad to develop linebacker Steve Josue, now in NFL Europe. And in preseason 2000, the Packers waived their current starting defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, but re-signed him to their practice squad before promoting him later that year.
The opener with Seattle marks the Packers' first ESPN appearance during the preseason since 1998, when Green Bay met Kansas City in the American Bowl at the Tokyo Dome. This also marks the 12th consecutive preseason (1993-2004) the league has given Green Bay at least one national television appearance. Green Bay meets former coach Mike Holmgren and former quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for the third time in 11 months, after playing Seattle only three times in 13 seasons.
Green Bay's regular-season docket will include two of its four preseason opponents: Jacksonville and Tennessee, each in opposite locations. The Packers travel to Jacksonville in preseason and host the Jaguars during the regular season, while they travel to Tennessee in preseason and host the Titans during the regular season. The last time Green Bay played rematches with at least two of its preseason opponents was 2000, when the Packers saw Miami and the N.Y. Jets.
2004 Preseason Schedule
Mon., Aug. 16 - SEATTLE SEAHAWKS - 7 p.m. (ESPN)
(Bishop's Charities Game along with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption)
Sat., Aug. 21 - NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Gold Pkg.) - 7 p.m. (state)
(Midwest Shrine Game)
Fri., Aug. 27 - at Jacksonville Jaguars - 7 p.m. (state)
Fri., Sept. 3 - at Tennessee Titans - 7 p.m. (state)
*All times indicated are Wisconsin