Packers vs. Seahawks: What to watch for

Final dress rehearsal and final roster spots are the focus


By Mike Spofford, editor

GREEN BAY – The Packers wrap up their 2023 preseason with a visit from the Seattle Seahawks. Kickoff is Saturday at noon CT.

Here are some things to keep an eye on.

Final tune-up for the starters: In a departure from prior years, Head Coach Matt LaFleur has played the starting units (health permitting) on both sides of the ball in the preseason games, and he plans to do so again Saturday.

The change is due in part to the youth of the team, particularly on offense with the transition to QB Jordan Love and a cadre of young perimeter weapons. But he also acknowledged it's partly due to the team's sluggish start in Week 1 each of the last two years.

Thus far in the preseason, the starting offense has produced two touchdown drives in five possessions, while the only points the starting defense has allowed were due to the offense turning the ball over deep in Green Bay territory.

LaFleur did not indicate how long the starters would play, and their performance could dictate that. A fast start to the game on both sides of the ball might result in them exiting early.

Sorting out the depth chart at various positions: Who will nail down the No. 3 running back job? Patrick Taylor and undrafted rookie Emanuel Wilson have been the prime contenders with Tyler Goodson and seventh-round rookie Lew Nichols injured.

Which wide receivers will be kept on the initial 53-man roster? Beyond the team's top three, Samori Toure has been steady amidst a lot of competition. Fifth-round rookie Dontayvion Wicks was getting first-team reps until injuring his hamstring in the last preseason game. Undrafted rookie Malik Heath took over some of those first-team reps, while seventh-round rookie Grant DuBose got his first preseason action last week after a long layoff due to a back injury, and he has one more chance to make a strong impression.

How many spots on the 53 will be taken by offensive linemen? It's probably the deepest group on the roster in terms of playing experience and rising young talent, but there isn't room for everybody. Which reserve defensive backs will provide the most value? That's where special-teams abilities and versatility can go a long way.

Deciding on two specialist jobs: Training camp has featured an ongoing competition at punter and long snapper, and both battles have pitted an experienced veteran against a young player trying to make his mark.

At punter, Pat O'Donnell is entering his 10th NFL season, while Daniel Whelan came from the XLF. At long snapper, Matt Orzech won a Super Bowl with the Rams a couple of years ago, while Broughton Hatcher is an undrafted rookie from Old Dominion.

Often in specialist competitions, the team makes a decision before the preseason is over and moves forward with its choice. The Packers didn't do that, taking these decisions all the way to the wire.

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