With all the talk surrounding the match-up of the Packers' offensive line and the Panthers' defensive line, one of the men who will have an up close view of that battle has been quietly going about his business in preparation for Monday night's game.
Running back Ahman Green, who is coming off a team-record 1,883-yard rushing season in 2003, said Friday that he's ready to get out on the field for the first time in a "real game" this season.
"I'm very excited," Green said. "Training camp is very long, and you've just got to be patient and make your way through it. Once you get through it, you're ready to have some fun in a real game against a real opponent."
The runner went on to say the while he may now be the focus of the offense, he looks to be of as much help to the team by drawing the attention of defenders, and allowing everyone around him to benefit.
"It's very important to establish the run. That gives your offense the time to pick plays out of your playbook and be able to run anything, and makes the defense stay honest."
Driver Confident In Receiving Corps
Count wide receiver Donald Driver as another of the Packers eager to hit the field for Monday night's season kickoff.
The sixth-year pro out of Alcorn State is fully healthy, following a knock on the ankle last week at Tennessee, and is full of confidence in himself and his fellow wideouts.
"If we do our job and execute our routes, we can't be stopped," Driver said.
He made himself clear, though, that they can not afford to be sloppy, and must hit the ground running to avoid a slow start to the season. When asked if he thought they would be able to hit some big plays against the Panthers, Driver thought the experience of the Packers' offense would be to their advantage.
"I think so, they have a young secondary," said Driver, referring to rookie cornerback Chris Gamble, who is flanked by second-year man Ricky Manning. "One thing about them, though, their secondary is good. We just have to go out and do our job. If we make mistakes, it's going to cost us the game."
Monday's game will feature two teams with not only highly-touted starting tailbacks, but a potent reserve coming off the bench as well.
Green Bay's combination of Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport (2,303 yards) and Carolina's Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster (1,875) were the top two rushing tandems in the NFC in 2003.
Aside from the statistics, Packers defenders don't see that many similarities between the two sets of backs, however.
"It's not too much like what we've got here," said defensive tackle Grady Jackson. "Stephen's a power back. If they're going to try to run at us, it's our job to stop them up front. You've got to take one of their weapons away."
Linebacker Nick Barnett, who had a chance to see a lot of Foster when they were Pac-10 opponents in college at Oregon State and UCLA, doesn't see a whole lot of similarities in the individuals, but does recognize the success of the groups.
"They are totally different backs," Barnett said. "But that's their version of their one-two punch."
111,613 Of The Greatest Owners In Sports
TV sports giant ESPN, who is in the midst of celebrating its 25th anniversary, has generated a number of lists celebrating the best in sports over the past 25 years.
Earlier this week, they got around to ranking the top owners of sports clubs, taking entries from each of the professional sports.
Rated as #1 on the list was "Packer fans around the world," beating out such notables as New York Yankees' boss George Steinbrenner and Dallas Mavericks owner and reality TV star Mark Cuban.
The Packers are the only team in the NFL to be publicly owned, and presently 111,613 people (representing 4,748,923 shares) can lay claim to a franchise ownership interest.
In the explanation of the top spot in the ESPN poll, the author noted that the ownership of the stock is about one thing, pure and simple: loyalty.