With the starting offense likely to play only the opening series against Tennessee on Friday, the preseason finale will be a prime opportunity for backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers to get extensive playing time and build on a strong training camp.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday he expects Rodgers to play the majority of the game, his first extensive playing time since the preseason opener at San Diego.
"I think we're excited as a No. 2 group to be able to get some more time, because the last couple games have been just close-out time," Rodgers said. "We're excited about getting into a flow early. I'm guessing we'll go in the second series, probably in the first quarter at some point. We're excited about getting into a rhythm and hopefully put some points on the board."
Rodgers completed nine of 11 passes for 124 yards directing primarily the second-string offense in San Diego, but he's had just 12 pass attempts in the last two games combined. With so many roster spots up for grabs at the offensive skill positions, Rodgers expects the unit's intensity to be on display every snap.
"A lot of guys have had great camps but haven't had really an opportunity to show what they're made of," he said. "I'm excited about being able to get those guys the ball."
As Brett Favre's backup, Rodgers knows he's always just one snap away from having to go into a game, so the preparation and playing time are valuable in that respect. But they also provide building blocks for his future, and he's had far more to build on this year than his rookie preseason.
"I can't say I'm 100 percent ready, but I'm getting there," he said. "This preseason has been very helpful as far as my development into a comfort level, a confidence level.
"I've felt like my play has been almost where I want it, I've been pretty consistent. Obviously there's mistakes here and there, growing pains and stuff, but I'm hoping to use this last game as a springboard into the season for me as far as confidence, ... using this as mental reinforcement for next year or the year after, whenever my time does come."
Even though neither the No. 1 offense nor defense played particularly well on Monday night in Cincinnati, McCarthy still wants the last preseason game to be primarily for the final evaluation of backup roster spots.
"It's definitely looking at the second guys and giving them an opportunity to win a job, because we're going to need everybody through the course of the year," McCarthy said.
McCarthy also said that he would be selective with which first-string players would play that first series, depending on health concerns. Donald Driver has a slightly tight hamstring and may not play. Running back Ahman Green potentially could play but no final decision has been made.
Recovery on track
Fullback William Henderson, who had arthroscopic surgery to clean up cartilage in his knee last week, is well on the road to recovery and could be ready for the season opener Sept. 10.
"He's off the charts," McCarthy said. "As far as rehab for his injury, he's way ahead of schedule. All indications look like he'll be ready for Chicago."
Henderson is thankful everything with the minor procedure went well, and that he's had no setbacks thus far.
"That's what our plan was, to go in there, find the problem and get out," he said. "I'm just happy that my determination and desire to get back out there is what it is, and that I'm still younger in body than people give me credit for."
Newly acquired kicker E.J. Cochrane is left-footed, which was to his benefit when he was with Philadelphia earlier this preseason because Eagles' Pro Bowl kicker David Akers is also a lefty.
"The things he taught me were so beneficial," said Cochrane, whose leg strength is similar to the Packers' Dave Rayner. "Being a fellow lefty, it really helped me when I was in Philly. Just the little things with your plant foot, your follow through, your mental aspect with kicking and what to expect in training camp and in season and all that, no one else could tell me."
Green Bay is Cochrane's third team this year after spending 2005 out of football and working as a landscaper in Arizona. He's already used to the somewhat nomadic existence of a kicker trying to latch onto an NFL team, and with Saturday the final cutdown day, he's just hoping to get an opportunity of some kind against Tennessee on Friday.
"I'm not going to be nervous," he said. "It's a different stadium, new crowd, new team, but it's just another day for me."
Running back Arliss Beach, who injured his right ankle against Cincinnati, did not practice and has a walking boot on his foot.
Safety Atari Bigby returned to practice with his fractured right hand heavily wrapped.