1. Backup quarterbacks to get a lot of reps
There will be plenty of time to watch backup quarterbacks Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn as Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the starting offense wont play much in Thursdays preseason finale (only about 10 plays, according to coach Mike McCarthy).
The two rookies have struggled throughout the preseason. Last Friday at Denver, Brohm failed to complete a pass and Flynn threw for a total of just 2 yards. Because Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher typically plays his starters into the second half in the last preseason game, Brohm and Flynn should get some work against quality NFL players.
If either one has some success, it could go along way toward easing the Packers concerns about whether they can handle a regular-season game. If they struggle, it could force the Packers to consider bringing in a veteran backup for the regular season.
2. Grant to debut?
Running back Ryan Grant is expected to make his preseason debut after missing parts of training camp due to his contract situation and then a strained hamstring. Grants practice reps have been extremely limited, so its unlikely McCarthy will play him very long Thursday night.
Last season, Grant didnt become the No. 1 running back until the seventh game of the season in part because he wasnt with the Packers in training camp. They had hoped to have Grant for a full camp this year, but it didnt work out.
3. How will the defense hold up?
Last week in Denver, the Broncos ran all over the Packers defense. On the Broncos 16-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that spanned eight minutes and 29 seconds, they ran 10 times, including six straight plays.
Sure, the Packers were without starting defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, their best run stopper, and they will be without him again Thursday night due to the hamstring injury that has kept him out for all of the preseason.
Still, the Packers had plenty of regulars in the game during that drive, and they still couldnt stop the Broncos. The Titans have a capable running game both because of their quarterback Vince Young and their top halfback LenDale White that will prove to be a good measuring stick to see if the Packers have improved from last week.
4. Cornerbacks Harris, Woodson might not play
Theres a good chance that the Packers entire starting secondary wont play Thursday night. Cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson didnt do much in practice this week and may not play.
Safeties Atari Bigby (ankle) and Nick Collins (neck) were banged up last week against the Broncos and probably will be held out even though their injuries dont appear to be serious. That means plenty of playing time for the backups, who are still fighting for jobs. While Tramon Williams appears to be a lock for the No. 3 cornerback job, theres still a battle for the third spot between Will Blackmon and Jarrett Bush.
For most of camp, Bush has held the edge, but Blackmon has been closing fast. Look for Bush also to get some time at safety behind Aaron Rouse and Tyrone Culver, who should start in place of Bigby and Collins.
5. Herron, Lumpkin, Morency battle it out
Perhaps the last true battle for a roster spot is at running back, where the threesome of Noah Herron, Kregg Lumpkin and Vernand Morency are running close. In Herron and Morency, the Packers have known commodities. Herron plays smart and is assignment sure, especially as a third-down back who can effectively pick up blitzes.
Morency does the same plus is perhaps a little better with the ball in his hands. Lumpkin, the undrafted rookie from Georgia, is probably the most talented of the three but is raw. Injuries limited his playing time in college and allowed him to slip through the cracks, but the Packers made him one of their free-agent priorities. A good showing Thursday night could make him impossible to cut.