3 Nuggets on the 2018 Packers Preseason Schedule
The Packers 2018 preseason opponents have been revealed. Yes, I know you’re less than thrilled. But you clicked! So, here we are.
Dates and times have yet to be announced, but all four of the games will be broadcasted locally only. For those out of state (like the two founders of The Power Sweep), NFL Network re-airs each game at some point in the following week, or NFL Game Pass typically offers streaming of live, out-of-market preseason broadcasts.
The return of Jordy Nelson
The biggest takeaway from a quick glance at the schedule is a Week 3 matchup against the Oakland Raiders. If the Cleveland Browns are the Packers’ eastern cousin with John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf, Alonzo Highsmith, Damarious Randall and Jeff Janis, the Raiders are certainly the western cousin.
The newest addition from Green Bay in Oakland is wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Nelson will be wearing a new number in Oakland, 82, and is playing for first-year head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden spent three seasons with the Packers as a coach under Mike Holmgren, and signed a massive 10-year, $100 million contract this offseason to coach the Raiders.
Week 3 is typically the week of the preseason where the starters will play one or more quarters, and is nicknamed a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. Nelson, if healthy, will have an opportunity to go against his old teammates.
It’s a similar situation as former Packers receiver James Jones, who signed with Oakland prior to the 2014 season and played in Green Bay that preseason. This time around, the Packers will be traveling to Oakland to visit Nelson and his teammates.
Two familiar opponents appear on preseason schedule
The Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs bookend the Packers’ preseason schedule in 2018. This year will mark the tenth time in the last twenty years the two teams have faced off in an exhibition game, including an eight-year stretch from 2002-2009.
It’s been an interesting offseason for the Titans, who are led by first-year head coach Mike Vrabel. Vrabel, a former New England linebacker, saw his team add high-profile free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler from the Patriots.
Kansas City is Green Bay’s final preseason opponent for the seventh time in nine seasons. The Chiefs held their training camp in River Falls, Wisconsin from 1991-2009 before returning to Missouri in 2010.
The Chiefs will have a drastically different look in 2018 with a new quarterback under center. Gone is Alex Smith, who started in Kansas City from 2013-2017, and in is last year’s first-round pick Patrick Mahomes.
A tale of two different types of head coaches
One component of the preseason that’s worth noting is the coaching staffs of Green Bay’s opponents. Two feature first-year head coaches – Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel and Oakland’s Jon Gruden – and the other two – Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Kansas City’s Andy Reid – are familiar faces in familiar places.
Those aren’t the only familiar faces for Packers fans, though. Former cornerback Al Harris coaches the secondary in Kansas City with Emmitt Thomas, who served as Ray Rhodes’ defensive coordinator in 1999. The 1999 Packers were the first team in NFL history to feature an African-American head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator.
Oakland’s staff under Gruden features wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett. Bennett had served each of the past 13 years as an assistant coach in Green Bay, including a stretch from 2011-2014 as the team’s wide receivers coach. He continues a successful coaching career in Oakland, and towards his goal of becoming an NFL head coach.
Gruden also has the services of defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, who served under Dom Capers’ staff in Green Bay for the last nine seasons. Jim O’Neil, who interviewed for a position with the Packers this offseason, is a senior defensive assistant, too.