Jclombardi previews Chiefs game and headlines.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Basics: Packers (2-1) vs. Chiefs (0-3) at 7 p.m. Thursday at New Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Injury report: Packers–LB Matthews (hamstring), LB Jones (shoulder), DE Jenkins (calf), S Blackmon (knee), LB Bishop (hamstring), CB Underwood (shoulder) and OL Barbre (back) are not expected to play.
Things to Watch
1. Impact rookies–rookies S Burnett, OL Bulaga, DE Neal, OL Newhouse, CB Shields, and TE Quarless need to play extensively to get experience preparing for the real NFL season.
2. Nickel & Dime–rookie CB Shields gets a long look at the No. 1 nickel spot and dime spot with CB Harris out. How will CB Lee play?
3. Priority is Big 5 O–Packers need to establish specific routine series lined up with Driver, Jennings, Jones, Nelson and Finley in multiple formations to get repetitive successes. We will have shootout scenarios in a very tough schedule.
4. Running game–How many carries will RB Grant, RB Jackson, and RB Lumpkin get and how will they fare? Will HB Kuhn get many carries?
5. Special teams–as we get closer to the regular season, Slocum must see how well the new and old personnel can consistently do being in the no. 1 units.
6. OLB help–Despite leading the team in tackles (15) and sacks (two), Zombo still has some work to do. He’ll probably get the start in place of Jones. He will get some rushes vs. Chiefs LT Albert who was one of the leaders in sacks allowed last year. Zombo needs to have a strong performance. How about OLB Obiozor?
7. Punting competition–Does heavily favored P Masthay win the job with booming punts and good hang time?
8. Return game–KR/PR Chery gets his chance to make the roster. It’s as simple as having a big game on special teams. His first punt return in the NFL was a 75-yard touchdown, and his second was a nimble running fair catch in traffic. Chery had some trouble fielding the ball in practice, but if he stays fumble-free and gets some yards, he’ll be in the discussion for the 53.
9. Defensive Frontline: DL Harrell, Toribio, Wynn, Wilson and Talley are probably fighting for two spots. Toribio and Harrell are probably fighting for one spot; meanwhile, Wynn and Talley for the other spot.
10. Offensive FrontLine: Sitton, Clifton, Tauscher, Wells and Colledge are the starters. Bulaga is No. 6. Versatile Lang appears next in line followed by the Newhouse-Giacomini survivor and the survivor of the interior backup battle among Dietrich-Smith, McDonald and Spitz.
Headlines: Preview: Packers vs. Chiefs. Five things to watch against the Chiefs. Notebook: Babies, Backs, Facial Hair. Williams ready to get started. With Bigby injured, Packers face difficulty at safety. Packers may deal backup tackle.