Packers Coach Mike McCarthy was determined to take one long, final look at a number of borderline players in a handful of areas Friday afternoon against the Tennessee Titans. After the Packers' first offense took all of two plays to score a touchdown, that look came much sooner than anticipated.
Meanwhile, the Titans, trying to figure out who will play quarterback for them this season, went with their first-team offense and defense for the first half and part of the third quarter, and cruised to a 35-21 Bishop's Charities Game victory, before 69,132 sun-drenched fans at Lambeau Field.
"We had three goals in mind, which is what I presented to the team on Wednesday," McCarthy said. "Number one was to win the football game; we did not accomplish that. The second was to give the starters one series on both sides of the ball, and I thought we did that in a productive manner. The last one was to give most of the young guys an opportunity to compete and get as much information on film so we can finalize the roster, and we did accomplish that."
The Packers, who finished 1-3 in the preseason, must reduce their roster by 20 players to the NFL-mandated limit of 53 by 3 p.m. (CT) on Saturday, then continue their preparations for the season opener Sept. 10 against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.
"They've got a great team," said wide receiver Donald Driver. "They have always had a great team. Whenever we battle with those guys, it brings out the best in them, and it brings out the best of us. It's going to be two teams going at it next Sunday.
"I'm going to sleep thinking about it. They know it's not gonna be a cakewalk We got to make sure that we don't make any mistakes and turn the ball over."
The Packers committed three turnovers, leading three touchdowns for the Titans, who were 4-12 last year. Green Bay also converted just 2 of 14 third-down situations and committed a whopping 11 penalties for 95 yards.
Brett Favre was in for the first two plays, and made the most of it, connecting with rookie wide receiver Greg Jennings for an 89-yard pass that led to an early Packers touchdown. McCarthy then went with second- and third-stringers on offense and defense to help make decisions a little easier on which players to keep or release.
Favre's backup, Aaron Rodgers, was 8-for-15 for 81 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked three times and lost a fumble, which led to Tennessee's second touchdown of the game.
The Titans took a good look at Young, who started his first preseason game and played most of the first half and third quarter. The third overall pick in the draft out of the University of Texas was effective on third down, going 5-for-6 for four first-down conversions. The former star of the NCAA Championship Game earlier this year threw for one touchdown, completing 8 of 17 passes for 80 yards. The Titans scored touchdowns twice while Young was at quarterback and once behind Collins and Volek.
Young gave way to Collins in the first half as the Titans took control, thanks, in part, to a Packers penalty and turnover. Cornerback Ahmad Carroll's off-sides penalty on ex-Packer Craig Hentrich's punt kept the Titans' drive alive. Tennessee took advantage of the miscue and tied the game at 7-7 on Young's 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bobby Wade. The sideline official ruled Wade out of bounds in the end zone, but the Titans challenged the ruling and the play was overturned.
Rodgers' fumble on a sack by defensive tackle Randy Starks on Green Bay's 11-yard line set up Tennessee's second touchdown. Starks beat rookie guard Tony Moll on a stunt to get to Rodgers and force the fumble. Collins passed for 9 yards to tight end Bo Scaife to the 2 before Travis Henry ran in for the touchdown.
Volek, in his only series of the game, took advantage of a broken coverage by the Packers and found wide receiver Brandon Jones streaking across the middle in front of linebacker Tracy White for a 54-yard touchdown early in the third quarter, giving the Titans a 21-7 lead. Volek was expected to take over for the departed Steve McNair, but the Titans recently signed Collins to start ahead of Young when they start the season at home against the New York Jets on Sept. 10.
Collins finished 7-for-13 for 96 yards in the first half, and did not play in the second half.
Rookie Carlton Brewster's muff on a punt return gave the Titans the ball on Green Bay's 17. One play later, Young threw a pass to wide receiver Tyrone Calico in what was originally ruled a touchdown. Green Bay challenged and the officials ruled that Calico did not get both feet inbounds. But Young struck on the next play, slipping the grasp of defensive end Jason Horton, and finding fullback Armard Hall for a 13-yard pickup to the Packers' 4. Tennessee stretched its lead to 28-7 on Lendale White's five-yard run with 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
Rodgers' 12-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Ruvell Martin and 45-yard connection to Brewster, set up Rodgers' 2-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to Martin, a borderline player trying to make an NFL roster for the first time after getting cut the past two seasons by San Diego.
"This is definitely something I want, something I've worked for since I was on the practice squad (late) last year," said Martin, who had three catches for 26 yards. "It's nothing that I'm going to beat myself up about."
Running back Noah Herron, another player who got an extensive look, ran 13 yards for Green Bay's final touchdown with 31 seconds left in the game. Herron finished with a team-high 65 yards rushing on 12 attempts for an impressive 5.4-yard per carry average.
"We wanted to see (the reserves) play first down, second down, third down, and be productive," McCarthy said. "I thought that's what Noah did, particularly in the run game. I thought he put his foot down and ran, which is essential in our scheme."
Running back Samkon Gado had 36 yards on 14 carries (2.6-yards per carry).
Jennings, starting in place of Robert Ferguson who did not play, caught a pass from Favre near the left sideline, then sprinted toward the end zone till he was dragged down from behind on the 3 on the Packers' first play of the game. Ahman Green followed by plowing into the end zone for his first and only touchdown of the preseason as the Packers quickly took a 7-0 lead.
"I think the corner (cornerback Pacman Jones) got tangled up and Greg was wide open," said Favre.
Favre, after watching the offense from the sideline in the first half realizes that the Packers have more kinks to work out prior to their season opener.
"We have to protect better," said Favre. "We have to run the football better. You can't win if you can't run the ball. We had two plays and went, what, about 90 yards? I'm not expecting it to be that easy during the regular season."