Gridiron Preseason Preview: Cardinals at Packers

The Packers make their first appearance at Lambeau Field since capturing last season’s Super Bowl title when the reigning world champions host the new-look Cardinals in the second preseason game for both teams of the 2011 campaign.

The Packers actually haven’t been on the storied Lambeau turf since the final week of the 2010 regular-season, when the club earned a 10-3 victory over rival Chicago to seize the NFC’s sixth and final playoff seed. Green Bay then came through with three straight road wins to advance to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV, where the Pack took home the fourth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history with a 31-25 triumph over the Steelers.

Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers was sharp once again in Green Bay’s preseason opener, though the Packers still were dealt a 27-17 loss at Cleveland last Saturday. The standout quarterback completed 6-of-8 passes over two possessions of work against the Browns, and capped the second drive with a 21-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Greg Jennings.

Backup Matt Flynn went 11-of-18 for 126 yards and a score in relief of Rodgers, while rookie wideout Randall Cobb caught three passes for a team-best 60 yards in an impressive pro debut for the 2011 second-round draft choice.

The Packers did receive some potentially troubling news on Tuesday, as projected starting defensive end Mike Neal hurt his left knee in a non-contact practice drill. The second-year pro certainly won’t play against the Cardinals, while running back and 2010 postseason hero James Starks figures to be held out as well after spraining an ankle in the Cleveland game.

On a more positive note, tight end Jermichael Finley is expected to take the field for Green Bay for the first time since tearing his ACL during Week 5 of last year’s regular season.

The Cardinals had a successful start to the Kevin Kolb era last week, delivering a 24-18 win at Oakland in their 2011 lid-lifter.

Kolb, acquired in a big trade with Philadelphia this offseason to fill Arizona’s need for a starting quarterback, did not throw a touchdown pass in his first game with his new team, but backups John Skelton, Richard Bartel and Max Hall all had one as the Cards piled up 290 net passing yards on the Raiders.

The ex-Eagle did connect with star wideout Larry Fitzgerald for a 43-yard gain in the opening quarter, however, and finished the night 4-of-7 for 68 yards.

Kolb is one of several new additions to a revamped Arizona roster as the Cardinals seek to improve off a disappointing 5-11 season in 2010. Another of those newcomers is left guard Daryn Colledge, who started 76 regular-season games as well as last February’s Super Bowl during a five-year stint with the Packers.

Green Bay owns a 15-6 advantage in its all-time preseason series with the Cardinals and handed Arizona a 44-37 loss at University of Phoenix Stadium when the teams met in August of 2009. The Cardinals would top the Packers in a higher-stakes contest later that season, coming out on top of a memorable 51-45 thriller in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs.

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