TONIGHT: The Packers play their first preseason road game, and first of three consecutive road trips, including the Sept. 13 season opener...It's a matchup of the NFL's most established quarterback, Brett Favre, and one of its most exciting emerging stars, Byron Leftwich...Both teams' starters could see their most preseason action, although Favre's playing time is not set in stone and will be determined by a few factors...Receiver Robert Ferguson and Quarterback Craig Nall are expected to make their '04 debuts tonight...Ferguson missed the first two games with a hamstring injury (the result of a knee hyperextension)...Nall also sustained a hamstring injury, early in camp.
TOUCHDOWNS: The Packers offense is looking for its first touchdown. The only TD scored in two games was by the Green Bay defense, on Darren Sharper's 90-yard interception return Saturday vs. New Orleans. However, the Packers aren't concerned, and haven't talked about it in depth this week in meetings. Favre said Wednesday the intangibles of preseason, such as personnel and injuries, take away from continuity, which would have helped them score TDs rather than field goals. He added that the offensive preseason goal is just to get something done with the plays they do call, moving the ball well and correcting mistakes. They've done that: Favre's initial drive in each of his first two games was a 10-play field-goal march.
BATTLE FOR THE LAST RECEIVER SPOTS: While Antonio Chatman has been consistent in two games, and is the front-runner for the No. 4 receiver, Mike Sherman said this week Chatman has not nailed down the job. Behind Chatman, the No. 5 receiver is wide open, Sherman added.
FOCUS ON ROOKIE CORNERBACKS: Sherman said this week he was pleased with the development of his two rookie cornerbacks, Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas. The Packers GM/Head Coach believes receivers and defensive backs have to make the biggest jump of any position from college to the NFL, and it takes time. He likes their work eithic and attentiveness in meetings, and added that neither is ahead of the other.
WAHLE BACK IN THE FOLD: The Packers regained some depth on their offensive line Tuesday when guard Mike Wahle, a 2003 Sports Illustrated All-Pro, passed his physical and participated in his first training camp practice. Wahle had been declared physically unable to perform (PUP) with a bruised knee. He had been the only player on the current roster who didn't miss a pracice because of injury over the last two years.
ADDITIONAL ROSTER MOVES: The Packers this week added two veteran free agents: former Jaguars punter Bryan Barker and University of Miami (Fla.) product Kenny Holmes, a defensive end. Barker, signed Monday, enters his 15th NFL season. Holmes, added Wednesday, could work about 10-12 plays tonight, probably on third-down situations. "We'll see if he can help us," Sherman said. "Anytime we can take a shot and evaluate somebody and possibly ugrade our talent level, we'll take a shot at that opportunity and hopefully we'll be able to do that." To make room for Holmes, the Packers waived punter Nathan Chapman, a former Australian Rules Football player.
BARKER AMONG MOST EXPERIENCED: If Barker plays in a regular-season game, he'll rank as one of the most experienced veterans in Packers history. In fact, only five players - K Jan Stenerud (17), QB Bart Starr (16), G/C Raleigh McKenzie (16), LB Hardy Nickerson (16) and C Frank Winters (16) - have played in a Packers uniform with more experience. Five players - TE Wesley Walls, LB Ray Nitschke, CB Dave Brown, DT Steve McMichael and QB Jim McMahon - have played in a Green Bay game in their 15th year of NFL experience (complete list on Page 225).
POOL REPORTERS: Bart Hubbuch (primary) and Vito Stellino (alternate), both of the Florida Times Union, are home pool reporters.
NEXT WEEK: Green Bay flies to Tennessee to conclude the preseason, Friday at The Coliseum in Nashville, a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Jags travel to New England, a Thursday night tilt.