KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Packers wrap up their 2022 preseason against the Chiefs on Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
Here's what to watch for.
Final auditions: The roster must be reduced to 53 players by next Tuesday, and there's probably nothing more influential regarding the last few decisions than special teams.
New coordinator Rich Bisaccia has been trying out anybody and everybody on the return and coverage units to find the players he can rely on to execute at the level he demands and play with the style he desires. The game against the Chiefs is everyone's last audition, a final opportunity to make the right impression as the Packers look to revamp their special teams after two sub-par seasons in that phase.
The more high-profile spots are the return men, and so far through two preseason games, the following players have taken turns: receivers Amari Rodgers and Ishmael Hyman, cornerback Rico Gafford, and running back Tyler Goodson. Another singular position is long snapper, and Jack Coco is the only one currently on the Packers' roster, but specialists like him are always competing against any other available players.
On the coverage units, cornerback Kiondre Thomas has at least one tackle in each of the first two preseason games, while other defensive backs – corners Shemar Jean-Charles and Kabion Ento, plus safety Tariq Carpenter – also have cracked the stat sheet.
Those aren't all the names competing, but a sampling. Every punt, kickoff and field-goal attempt in this preseason finale could factor into the decision-making process.
Continued progress: Quarterback Jordan Love keeps making strides, with his performance in the second preseason game vs. New Orleans another step forward from the opener at San Francisco.
Head Coach Matt LaFleur believes Love is "light years ahead" of where he was a year ago, and he continues to put together solid practices weekly.
If all goes well with Aaron Rodgers' health, this hopefully will be Love's last extensive playing time in 2022. Seeing him put together another solid outing that shows his growth as a young QB – and in the stadium where his first NFL start last season was a rocky one – would be a nice way to wrap up the preseason.
Watch in particular for any blitzes the Chiefs throw at Love, and who the running back is assigned with picking them up. Pass protection (along with special teams, as mentioned above) will matter greatly in the final analysis.