Week 1 Preview: Packers at Eagles

We have everything you need to know as Green Bay travels to Philadelphia for the season opener.

Packers (0-0) at Eagles (0-0)

KICKOFF: 3:15 p.m.

SURFACE: Natural Grass

TV: Fox (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman)


Eagles QB Kevin Kolb isn't a first-time starter, but this is his first opener with the Eagles, who ended the Donovan McNabb Era in the offseason by dealing him to division rival Washington. Kolb was shaky in the preseason, but coach Andy Reid isn't concerned, even against a defense that had 30 interceptions in 2009.

Packers' head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy likes to say he is committed to the run, but he's not kidding anyone. The Packers enter the season with the best passing attack going after Aaron Rodgers' unbelievably high rate of execution in what amounted to only a little more than a game of action during the preseason - 41-of-53 for 470 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 141.2.

Bill Huber has his three keys to the game, one each for offense, defense and special teams, at Fox Sports Wisconsin.

So, why wouldn't McCarthy go vertical, even against the Eagles' traditionally exotic, blitz-happy defense that will challenge Green Bay's revitalized offensive line, which didn't allow a sack of Rodgers in exhibition play? Consider that in the three games Rodgers and the No. 1 unit were on the field for a total of 13 series, the Packers carried out 56 pass plays to only 25 run plays (including those nullified by penalties) for a heavily lopsided pass-run ratio of 69-31. Still, McCarthy needs to bring up the confidence of halfbacks Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson carrying the football after they combined for three fumbles (two lost) in August.

FAST FACTS: The Packers have an NFL-best 51 wins in road openers. ... Among receivers with at least 40 catches, Eagles WR DeSean Jackson led the NFL with an 18.6-yard average per reception in 2009.


Kevin Kolb will make his debut Sunday as the Eagles' new starting quarterback. But right now, there are more questions about the players who will be lining up in front of him than there are about Kolb.

The Eagles shipped their struggling right guard, Stacy Andrews, to Seattle for a seventh-round pick over the weekend. Nick Cole, who started 10 games at right guard in place of Andrews last season and did a serviceable job, will start Sunday's season-opener against the Green Bay Packers.

A bigger concern is at center where Jamaal Jackson returns just eight months removed from ACL surgery. He didn't start practicing until mid-August and didn't play in any of the Eagles' preseason games.

Even head coach Andy Reid admitted Wednesday that he doesn't know what to expect from Jackson.

"We'll just have to see," he said."There's some unknown there. We just have to see how he does and sustains throughout a game. And he's got a pretty good task this week against (the Packers') base defense. He's going to be covered every snaps. So it will be a good challenge."

The Packers play a 3-4 defensive scheme, which means their nose tackle, B.J. Raji, is going to be lining up directly in front of Jackson on every down that they're in their base defense. That's hardly ideal for a guy who is coming off major knee reconstruction surgery and who isn't in game shape.

"What I worked on a lot last week was trying to handle the bull rush a little bit," said Jackson."I did that a few times last week and I think we'll continue to work on that type of speed and what they like to do."

The Eagles' offensive line is a bit of a house of cards entering the season. Besides Cole and Jackson, left guard Todd Herremans has had issues with his surgically-repaired foot, and left tackle Jason Peters, while immensely talented, is inconsistent.

Jackson said his knee is "healthy enough to withstand physical contact." He said his biggest concern is his conditioning, particularly in the 80-degree temperatures that are expected for Sunday's game.

"It feels good," he said."It's just the endurance part of it. I didn't have a chance to do any preseason. Four quarters the first game. ... There's going to be a lot of energy. A lot of people are going to be amped up. Hopefully, emotionally, I don't drain myself."

Reid said that if Jackson has any problems with either the knee or his conditioning, he won't hesitate to replace him with backup Mike McGlynn.

"I feel comfortable with him and he feels comfortable and the doctors feel comfortable," Reid said."But I'm going to keep a close eye on him. Mike McGlynn and the experience he got at the center position is going to be important for these first few weeks here."

McGlynn, a fourth-round pick in the '08 draft, spent his first two years with the team as a guard. But he was moved to center in the offseason, where he and Nick Cole both took the bulk of the reps in Jackson's absence.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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