Beware of the preseason's Doug Ritchay offers his take on how top players around the league should approach the preseason. Ritchay also lists five things he will be hoping to see from the Packers in their preseason game tonight against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.

Brett Favre throws an interception during a preseason game, instincts take over and the Packers' franchise begins chasing the defender who snatched his pass.

Favre gets blocked out of the way, lands on his right shoulder and is out for three months. Nothing against Aaron Rodgers, but the season is over.

What if this would happen? How mad would anybody associated with the Packers be, and how about the fans and media?

The Packer Nation would be going beserk.

Something similar to this happened during the first week of the preseason, when Washington franchise running back Clinton Portis made a tackle after the Redskins threw an interception. Portis, who ran for more than 1,500 yards in 2005, did what most players do when the defense gets the ball, he made an effort to stop the player.

He did, but as he made the tackle, Portis slightly separated his shoulder, making him "iffy" for the regular-season opener. Afterward, Portis complained about scheduling too many preseason games. I agree, four is too many, but Clinton your injury came in the first quarter of the first preseason game.

My advice in the preseason, why make this attempt when you're Clinton Portis? It's preseason and nothing counts – except injuries.

Portis' situation got me thinking, especially after watching San Diego and the Packers in their preseason opener. The Chargers don't even play running back LaDanian Tomlinson in the preseason because of fear of injury.

If he's going to get hurt, let him get hurt when it counts, San Diego is thinking. He's played long enough, so San Diego errors on the side of caution.

Surprisingly, more teams don't do this. Why is Kansas City playing Larry Johnson? Why are the New York Giants playing Tiki Barber? Running back seems to be the one position where you can do this. Quarterbacks need repetitions with receivers and tight ends. Offensive lines need to develop chemistry (the Packers certainly know that), and on the defensive side, at least those players are giving the hits.

Still, it is football and these guys likely want some field time. Friday night, my eyes opened when Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers tossed and interception and began chasing down Brian Urlacher. Why? It's preseason, let him go. Rivers got hit, but got up with no reason for panic. Still, what if Rivers goes down? Drew Brees is in New Orleans and Dan Fouts has been retired a long time. The Chargers would have been in a tough spot.

The moral of the story: If you're playing your franchise-type players, don't play them long, remind them (especially quarterbacks) if there's a turnover don't try to make a tackle.

I like the route Marty Schottenheimer takes with Tomlinson. He makes sure when Week 1 arrives the best running back in the game is 100 percent ready to go. If there's a little rust, so be it. It certainly beats the alternative Portis is going through right now, not knowing if he'll be ready for the opener. Furthermore, will that shoulder be 100 percent for the beating he'll take?

The Packers' second preseason game is tonight and there are five things I will watch:

1. The offense needs to show some life. This starts with the offensive line, which appears to be as solid as water.

2. A wide receiver outside of Donald Driver needs to stand up, whether it be Greg Jennings, Robert Ferguson or Rod Gardner. Speaking of Gardner, not much has been talked about him so far.

3. I want to see the rookie linebackers continue to make strides. A.J. Hawk and Abdul Hodge are keys to the defense this season and the more momentum they get in the preseason, the better off they'll be in the regular season. 4. Dave Rayner is the kicker – for this week. Billy Cundiff was cut, so Rayner has a chance to stake claim as Ryan Longwell's successor. If not, got Paul Edinger's phone number?

5. I would like to see a backup cornerback make a play. The Packers' No. 3 is Ahmad Carroll and as we saw last week he's as beatable as a drum. He'll never be reliable, but until someone stands up, the Packers are stuck with him.

Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at

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