If you read any preseason football reports, you will read that the third game of the preseason is a "dress rehearsal" of sorts for the regular season. Since this blog desires above all else to be like every other sports blog in the world, I too shall refer to this third preseason game as a dress rehearsal. Done and done.
In all seriousness, this game is very much like a dress rehearsal for the regular season, especially so for the Packers. We'll see more of the starters tonight than we've seen in any game so far this preseason, and that should clear up quite a few questions. Here are four that could be answered tonight.
1. What can Cedric Benson do? Due to the timing around the Cedric Benson acquisition, he was unable to play in last week's game against Cleveland, but from all appearances he should be ready to roll tonight. He's an experienced veteran, so in some respects he should be able to figure out how to contribute quite quickly. On the other hand, he's never been known for his pass catching ability, running prowess out of the shotgun, or pass blocking skills, all things high on the list of requirements for Packer running backs. Tonight should provide a pretty good starting point for assessing his ability to contribute to this offense. If nothing else, he should have pretty fresh legs, so let's hope we like what we see.
2. Is Greg Jennings rusty? Greg Jennings has been out the last two preseason games with a concussion, and during that time he wasn't allowed to do anything physical, not even so much as running on a treadmill. Having just begun to practice again on Sunday, it's possible he could be a little rusty. How quickly will he get back into the flow? Will he immediately pick up right where he left off? I'm confident he will, but seeing where he's at physically should be interesting.
3. Do Jermichael and Aaron love each other?Earlier this offseason, Jermichael Finley said he felt like he didn't have chemistry with Aaron Rodgers last season, despite putting up career numbers in almost every area. Like Jennings, Finley also has yet to play this preseason, which certainly won't help establish any chemistry with his starting quarterback. Without seeing him in practice every day, it's difficult to gauge what sort of connection there is between Finley and Rodgers, but with the starting offensive unit expected to get about a half of play tonight, we'll be able to see what sort of magic they can create together. (UPDATE: According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Finley is a healthy scratch for tonight. He's been excused from the game to attend to the birth of his child. Slacker.)
4. Has the starting defense improved? Just going off what I've seen in the first two games, I think Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, and B.J. Raji have been on the field together for maybe eight plays together. Yes, the rest of the defense hasn't exactly set the world on fire in the games so far, but when your best three players are barely on the field, it's hardly fair to evaluate the unit as a whole. As I've said before, the starters are expected to get plenty of burn tonight, so we may be able to get a better idea of what we've got on the defensive side of the ball.