Return concerns

Opponents' kickoff returns for touchdowns in back-to-back preseason games present a trend that the Packers must stop. Those worries will be eased Sunday when the regular coverage team personnel steps onto Lambeau Field, some coaches and players said.<p>

Ryan Longwell's best kickoff of the preseason was wasted Friday night when Tennessee rookie John Simon returned the second-half opener for a touchdown.

Longwell's troubles reaching inside the 5 have been well documented, but this time his kickoff boomed to the goal line. Simon took it there, headed up the right side and cut all the way back left around the 25. Simon deftly dodged Longwell and took it to the end zone.

"I would say the concern is momentum," Longwell said. "You don't want that hanging over your head going into the season.

"I don't think it's a huge issue because we don't have our team out there," Longwell said.

Simon averaged 39.4 yards on five returns. Last Monday night, Cleveland Browns rookie Andre Davis took the opening kickoff down the right sideline 93 yards for a touchdown. With the Atlanta Falcons (and Alan Rossum) coming into town Sunday, adjustments will undoubtedly be made.

Packer head coach Mike Sherman said that those adjustments were coming, touchdowns or not.

"We've had people out there who are not going to be out there when the season starts," Sherman said.

Meanwhile, there's some good news for the Packer kicking game. Longwell consistently placed the ball better on kickoffs this preseason and improved this stat over the four-week exhibition run. In the finale he had kickoffs go to the goal line and the three-yard line, although his kickoff after the Packers' first score only reached the 12.

On field goals Longwell was a perfect 8-of-8, capped off by his field goals of 30 and 27 yards Friday night.

Packer Report Top Stories