TONIGHT: The Packers look to even their record in the 2004 preseason finale for both clubs...Green Bay and Tennessee, who will meet again in five weeks at Lambeau Field, Oct. 11 on ABC, end the preseason together for a third straight season...The league usually schedules the first three preseason opponents for each club, and leaves the finale up to the teams, similar to the way colleges schedule non-conference opponents (most dates and times, for all preseason games, are arranged by the clubs, even if the league picks the opponent)...The Packers-Titans contract ends after this game but the teams may discuss future preseason meetings.
FIRST UNITS WILL PLAY LONGER: Hoping to get off to a better regular-season start, the Packers are expected to play their first-team offense and defense into the second half...The Packers need to wait 10 days until they open at Carolina, Sept. 13, and Brett Favre said multiple times in camp he prefers to play rather than sit and avoid injury (he sat out the 2003 finale vs. Tennessee)...Favre should play the first half at most, while the rest of the offense - including an offensive line at full strength for the first time since the '03 playoffs - could go into the third quarter...For the first time in 2004, Favre will take snaps from starting center Mike Flanagan, who returned Monday from knee tendinitis that sidelined him all of training camp.
FAVRE'S PITCHCOUNT: Like a starting big-league pitcher, Favre had his throws closely counted this camp...He estimates he was throwing the ball about 1,200 times as recently as 2001, Mike Sherman's second year as head coach, and thinks he has only 900 so far in 2004...As a result, he feels as fresh as he's ever been heading into a regular season.
THE ROTATION: After Favre leaves, the Packers may not play No. 2 quarterback Doug Pederson; Sherman said Pederson might get a series at the most...Tim Couch, Craig Nall and Scott McBrien will split up the second half with no set schedule.
THE FINAL FIVE: Sherman said Wednesday he estimates five roster spots are up for grabs tonight...Before 3 p.m. CDT Sunday, the Packers need to reduce their roster from 74, including nine roster exemptions, to 53...The players are competing not only against their teammates, but also against other league players at their position, since the keen personnel department won't hesitate to sign or claim the right player waived by another club. What's more, the competition isn't even limited to a particular player's position, as the team may decide to keep, for instance, a fifth wide receiver over a ninth defensive lineman, or vice versa.
ONE BATMAN COULD START, ANOTHER MIGHT SIT: With the Gotham City Bat Building looking on from the Nashville skyline, Green Bay's younger "Batman" could start tonight, while its established Cape Crusader might not play...First-round draft choice Ahmad Carroll, nicknamed Batman by his coach as a Pop Warner player, will get the nod at cornerback if Michael Hawthorne is scratched; Hawthorne's back tightened up on him last week at Jacksonville and he missed all of practice this week...Meanwhile on offense, Ahman Green hasn't practiced all week and is doubtful for tonight after sustaining a knee bruise in the same Jacksonville game last Friday...Green has been an enthusiastic Batman fan since his youth; he has everything from T-shirts to a Batmobile to a Batman tattoo on his leg...Sherman said if Green doesn't play, Najeh Davenport, Tony Fisher and Nick Luchey will gain valuable playing time at halfback; Luchey hasn't played there since he filled in for an injured Corey Dillon late in 2002 with the Bengals.
GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT?: The Packers were literally one of the last two teams to kick off the preseason Aug. 16 (Green Bay and Seattle started that night at 7 p.m. CDT; Cincinnati and Tampa Bay started an hour earlier). They're one of the last teams to conclude the preseason tonight (other 7 p.m. CDT kickoffs are Chicago at Cleveland and Miami at New Orleans), and they'll be one of the last teams to begin the regular season, Monday night, Sept. 13 at Carolina. No doubt, their fans are hoping the Packers will also be one of the last teams playing in February.
ROSTER MOVE: The Packers Wednesday claimed safety Julius Curry (No. 41) on waivers from Detroit, and placed defensive tackle Donnell Washington on injured reserve...Curry, 6-0 and 204 pounds, played in the final three contests of the 2003 season with Detroit, seeing action on both defense (one tackle) and special teams (two stops). This summer, he played in three preseason games with the Lions and registered four tackles (three solo) before being waived Tuesday. The 25-year-old former Michigan Wolverine originally signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears on May 1, 2003. He was waived Aug. 26 and later was signed to the Lions' practice squad Sept. 16. Released Nov. 4, he was re-signed to the practice squad Nov. 19 and then signed to the active roster Dec. 9...Washington, the Packers' third-round selection in this year's draft, had been sidelined with a foot/arch injury since Aug. 6.
POOL REPORTERS: Jeff Legwold (primary) and Paul Kuharsky (alternate), both of the Tennessean, are home pool reporters.
NEXT WEEK: The Packers meet Carolina in a matchup that, had a few more balls bounced Green Bay's way in its playoff loss at Philadelphia, could have been the 2003 NFC Championship...Tennessee opens the year at Miami next Sunday, before returning here to Nashville for a much-anticipated showdown with the Colts, Sept. 19.