GREEN BAY – The Packers play their first preseason game in nearly two full years when they host the Houston Texans on Saturday night at Lambeau Field.
Here's what to watch for.
The much-anticipated debut: The Packers' first-round draft pick in 2020, QB Jordan Love, will be playing his first actual football game since the Senior Bowl 19 months ago.
Head Coach Matt LaFleur has said Love will play the majority of the game vs. Houston, the first of three preseason games that will be important in his development after a rookie year that included no on-field offseason program, no preseason games, and game-day inactive status for the duration of the season.
Love has experienced the typical ups and downs of a young quarterback this spring and summer, and that's likely to continue in his first game action. It's a big spotlight and he'll be under a lot of scrutiny, but his steady, even-keeled demeanor should serve him well.
Position competitions: There are several to keep an eye on, but two of the more prominent are on the offensive line and at running back.
Throughout camp, the Packers have been rotating three guards – Lucas Patrick, Jon Runyan and Ben Braden – for two spots while Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins has been filling in for David Bakhtiari at left tackle.
The battle for the No. 3 running back job also begins more in earnest now that live tackling has entered the picture. A rookie seventh-round pick (Kylin Hill), an undrafted prospect brought in a year ago despite injuries (Patrick Taylor), and a 2019 sixth-round pick (Dexter Williams) are the candidates, and they could be tried on special teams as returners as well.
Start of a new culture: Speaking of special teams, the desire for new coordinator Maurice Drayton and the veteran leaders on the units is to change the culture of the third phase in Green Bay. Again, with fully live action at hand, that process becomes more real now.
Rookie third-round pick Amari Rodgers is expected to begin as the top punt returner, while several players sprinkled amongst the receivers, linebackers and defensive backs will be looking to make an impression on the return and coverage units to earn a roster spot.
Other notable debuts: In addition to Rodgers, first-round pick Eric Stokes and second-rounder Josh Myers are expected to start the game with the first units. Stokes has worked as the No. 2 cornerback throughout camp with Kevin King working his way back from a hamstring injury, while Myers has been plugged in as the new starting center since the first day of OTAs.
Also, fifth-round selection T.J. Slaton has gotten work with the No. 1 defensive line lately with Kingsley Keke and Kenny Clark both out, so he's likely to start as well. Veteran linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, signed as a free agent in June, has been a defensive starter throughout camp and could see his first action in a Packers uniform, depending on how much LaFleur decides to play some veteran players.