Eagles top Packers in exhibition opener, 20-13

Green Bay dropped its exhibition opener to the Philadelphia Eagles tonight, but all is not lost. The Packers got good performances out of their first units, got a long look at some of their reserves, and didn't suffer any major injuries.<p>

"As I told the guys today, it's a 53-man roster and we've got to get all 53 planned," Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman said. "That wasn't the case all the time today. There were some good things with the younger guys, but not enough to win the football game."

The Eagles' reserves broke a 10-10 halftime tie by scoring 10 straight points against Green Bay's second and third team reserves in the third quarter to win the game, 20-13, at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

The Packers, behind third-string quarterback Craig Nall, drove to the Eagles' 11 yard line with less than three minutes remaining. Nall threw incomplete to tight end Tyrone Davis in the end zone on third and 8. After Green Bay used its final timeout, Nall rolled to his left and threw incomplete on fourth down to end Green Bay's attempt to tie the game.

Philadelphia's Rod Smart (aka He Hate Me) then broke off a 29-yard gain to seal the game for the Eagles.

The Packers' first string offense ran 25 plays in the first quarter. After punting and turning the ball over on its first two series, the Packers offense drove 60 yards and took a 7-0 lead on running back Rondell Mealey's one-yard touchdown run.

Mealey, battling with a handful of other running backs for the backup spot behind Ahman Green, ran seven times in the drive for 23 yards and caught one pass for four yards. Brett Favre's 21-yard completion to tight end Bubba Franks to the Eagles' 23-yard line sparked the drive.

Mealey handled the ball six straight times and pounded to the 1. He then ran toward the left corner of the end zone behind fullback William Henderson and dived over the left pylon for the score.

Mealey finished with 30 yards on 11 carries. Green ran five times for 23 yards. Rookie free agent Tony Fisher continued his strong training camp by running nine times for 55 yards. Fisher is battling Mealey, Herbert Goodman and Ki-Jana Carter for a spot behind Green. Carter did not play because of a sore Achilles' tendon.

"He's practiced that way and he played that way today," said Sherman about Fisher. "A very impressive young man. He's a smart kid and he gives you good effort. He runs hard. He keeps making himself noticed by the coaches and myself."

Favre completed 6 of 10 passes for 53 yards and one interception. On Green Bay's seventh play from scrimmage, he found wide receiver Donald Driver wide open on a post route deep downfield, but Driver was unable to hold onto the ball after getting hit in the back by cornerback Troy Vincent.

Green Bay's second series on offense was thwarted when Favre was intercepted by safety Rashard Cook.

"The only time we were stopped is when we stopped ourselves," said Favre.

Green Bay's first string defense played without defensive end Vonnie Holliday (ribs), linebacker Nate Wayne, cornerback Tyrone Williams (groin), and safeties Antuan Edwards (knee/groin) and Scott Frost (shoulder). Despite being without the aforementioned players, Green Bay forced the Eagles to punt after three plays on each of their first two series.

"I was excited that they were able to play pretty strong early in the game," Sherman said.

Eagles running back Dorsey Levens, who was released by the Packers in a salary cap move in February, ran wild against Green Bay's second-team defense. Levens took the bulk of the plays on the Philadelphia's third offensive series and scored by diving over the right pylon to tie the game at 7-7. Levens carried eight times for 64 yards in the 11-play, 68-yard drive. Philadelphia stuck with its first team offense on the drive.

The Packers followed by inserting their second-team offense behind quarterback Doug Pederson. Pederson's 22-yard scamper to the left sideline put the Packers on the Eagles' 25 yard line. A penalty moved the Packers back to the 33 and the Packers settled for Ryan Longwell's 40-yard field goal.

Eagles kicker David Akers made a 23-yard field goal just before halftime to tie the score at 10-10.

"I thought our first offense executed our game plan, as modified as it was, pretty well," said Sherman at halftime. "Our first-team defense controled the line of scrimmage three-and-out, three-and-out (against Philadelphia's first-team offense). The second unit guys fighting for jobs have to do better than that, or they will be looking for new jobs."

Akers' 37-yard field goal midway through the third quarter capped a 51-yard scoring drive that gave the Eagles a 13-10 lead. Third-string quarterback A.J. Feeley led the Eagles on the drive.

Running back Rod Smart scored on a 31-yard pass from quarterback Tim Hasselbeck with 12:20 left in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles a 20-10 lead. Hasselbeck eluded defensive end John Gilmore, then found Smart wide open along the right sideline and Smart broke two tackles to reach the end zone. Packers middle linebacker Torrance Marshall was responsible for Smart, but Marshall lost sight of Smart, who starred in the XFL a year ago.

"This is your time to try and make the league," said Packers defensive lineman Jared Tomich. "You have to do something to get your name out there and make your name a little bit different, a little brighter than everybody elses. The only way to do that is to try to make plays."

Tomich caused a fumble in the second half with a bone-jarring hit on Smart. The loose ball was recovered by defensive lineman Billy Lyon. Tomich, who played defensive end and tackle, also got a sack on quarterback A.J. Feeley.


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