Game snapshot

The Packers and Vikings kick off the season tonight at Lambeau Field.

Minnesota Vikings (0-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-0)

Kickoff: 6 p.m. (Central).

Line: Packers by 3.

TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser)

Series: 95th meeting. Packers lead 48-45-1, and are 4-0 against the Vikings since Brad Childress took over as Minnesota's coach in 2006. The Vikings had won three in a row against the Packers, including an NFC wild-card game in 2004, before Mike Tice was fired as their coach following the 2005 season.

Prediction: Vikings 20-17

Talk is cheap: The Vikings' coaching staff boasted about quarterback Tarvaris Jackson's development over the offseason, and now it's time for him to display that maturity. Expect Jackson to look for new wide receiver Bernard Berrian early. He'll be working against physical veteran cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson, who don't have the speed to keep up if Berrian beats them off the line. And with the defense focused so heavily on running back Adrian Peterson, the Packers' corners will often be on an island. ... Quarterback Aaron Rodgers becomes the first quarterback other than Brett Favre to start a regular-season game for the Packers since Sept. 20, 1992. And he does it at home in prime time against a Vikings defense that upgraded its pass rush with defensive end Jared Allen. And moving the ball against the Vikings' stout run defense could prove difficult with center Scott Wells likely sidelined and running back Ryan Grant prepared to see his first game action since January.

Key injuries: S Madieu Williams (neck) is out. WR Robert Ferguson (ankle) is uncertain. Jackson (sprained MCL) could have limited mobility. Packers: OLB A.J. Hawk (chest) and Wells (back) are questionable, though Hawk is expected to start. Grant (hamstring) will play after sitting out the entire preseason.

Need to know: Vikings safety Darren Sharper is the active NFL leader with 53 career interceptions. ... The Packers are 3-0 in their three previous season openers played on Monday nights.

Vikings personnel news

— WR Bernard Berrian has gotten through four practices after being bothered by a toe injury on his right foot for much of training camp. Barring a setback, Berrian will play tonight.

— WR Robert Ferguson was limited in practice Thursday because of an ankle injury suffered in the third preseason game but is listed as probable.

— RB Maurice Hicks did not practice Thursday as he continues to recover from a sprained foot and is listed as questionable. It's uncertain if he will be able to return kickoffs tonight. If he can't, WR Aundrae Allison is likely to be used in that role.

— Artis Hicks talked for the first time about playing left tackle for the opening four games in place of the suspended Bryant McKinnie. "It's not that big of an adjustment," said Hicks, who has made four of 49 career starts at left tackle. "The biggest thing is guys are a little bit faster out there, a little more athletic. The plays are pretty much the same. It's just the speed and quickness of the (defensive ends)."

— The Vikings have named season-long captains for the first time. Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson (offense), middle linebacker E.J. Henderson (defense) and kicker Ryan Longwell (special teams) were picked by their teammates.

Packers personnel news

— RB Ryan Grant was full go in practice Thursday and is on track to start tonight. Grant didn't carry the football once in the preseason games after missing most of training camp with a hamstring injury.

— DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila also appears ready to be on the field Monday, which would be his first game since the end of last season. He's listed as probable. The pass-rush specialist was a full participant Thursday. He missed most of training camp with lingering soreness from offseason knee surgery.

— LT Chad Clifton, who will primarily be matched against Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen, is being limited in practice for the majority of this long preparation week because of nagging knee and chest soreness.

— C Scott Wells was undergoing further treatment Thursday for a strained muscle in his lower back that he aggravated in practice Monday. Wells hasn't been ruled out from playing in the opener, though it would be as a backup. Jason Spitz, the projected starter at right guard, will start at center, with Tony Moll tabbed as the fill-in at guard.

— WR James Jones didn't practice all week and is listed as doubtful. If Jones doesn't play, the Packers will count on Ruvell Martin and Jordy Nelson in the multiple-receiver formations with starters Donald Driver and Greg Jennings.

Focus on: Tarvaris Jackson

Tarvaris Jackson likely will be wearing a brace on his right knee tonight.

The Vikings' quarterback wore the device during Thursday's practice to protect the sprained medial collateral ligament he sustained in his right knee on Aug. 16 at Baltimore.

"I don't want to wear it, but if I have to, I will," Jackson said. "It's not to the point where I'm trying to go out here in practice and not wear it; it's the point where if I feel comfortable not wearing it I won't wear it. It's not me trying to politic not to wear it or them trying to get me to wear it. It's just the point of me feeling comfortable."

Jackson, entering his second season as the Vikings' starter, said he feels far more comfortable in the role than he did a year ago. He went 8-4 as the Vikings starter in 2007 but missed four games because of injuries. He threw three more interceptions than touchdowns (12-9) and had a subpar completion percentage (58.2) and passer rating (70.8).

"I've been through this before," he said. "I'm going into my third year. I know what to expect out of my teammates, my coaches, out of you all, everybody. So, I am very confident. It's to the point now that I pretty much know what is going to happen just by going out there and preparing well."

Jackson was not able to play in either game against the Packers in 2007. His last start against the Packers came in the second-to-last game of the 2006 season at Lambeau Field. Jackson was making his first NFL start, and it showed. He completed 10-of-20 passes for 50 yards with an interception in a 9-7 loss. Last season, Jackson watched from the bench as the Vikings lost 34-0 at Lambeau.

"It was a bad situation," Jackson said of the latest defeat. "We thought we were ready to play but we didn't come out and play as well as we thought (we should have). Like Coach (Brad) Childress mentioned earlier this week, the last two times we played at Lambeau, we haven't scored a point on offense. So we want to get out of that mode. We want to score some points, of course, and move the ball a little bit better."

Key matchups

— Packers defensive front vs. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson: Green Bay should know in a hurry whether having a relatively healthy defensive line for the first time since late last season can make a difference against wunderkind Peterson. The unavailability of run-stuffing tackle Ryan Pickett for the entire preseason and a sore groin that affected complementary tackle Johnny Jolly made the Packers vulnerable against the run. Pickett isn't in football shape, so there's no telling how effective he can be, especially as the game wears on. Peterson was unstoppable in his first encounter with the Green Bay defense last season, churning out 112 yards in only 12 carries (9.3 average). The Packers did a better job of cutting off his running lanes in the second go-around later in the season — he gained just 45 yards in 11 rushes before he sustained a game-ending knee injury in the third quarter.

— Packers offensive line vs. Vikings defensive line: Aaron Rodgers could be in for a rude awakening as he makes his long-awaited starting debut at quarterback. The Vikings were formidable with behemoths Kevin Williams and Pat Williams on the inside. They became more scary with the acquisition of Pro Bowl end Jared Allen in an offseason trade with Kansas City. Thanks to injuries to center Scott Wells (questionable) and rookie right guard Josh Sitton (out), the Packers never solidified the starting five on the line in the preseason. Pass protection was an issue for Green Bay in the first two preseason games, until Rodgers got wise and unloaded the ball quickly. Of greater concern is how the reshuffled interior trio of left guard Daryn Colledge, center Jason Spitz and right guard Tony Moll will contend with the Williams duo as the Packers try to get their mysterious running game on track.

— Vikings LT Artis Hicks vs. Packers RDE Cullen Jenkins: With left tackle Bryant McKinnie suspended for the first four games of the season, Hicks is expected to get the start and face Jenkins on early downs and, if he plays, pass-rush specialist Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on third downs. Hicks has started 49 games in his seven seasons, but only four of those have come at left tackle. The Vikings point to the fact that in 2003, Hicks played well for the Eagles in a Monday night game against then-Dolphins star Jason Taylor when Tra Thomas had to sit because of a back injury.

— Vikings RDE Jared Allen vs. Packers LT Chad Clifton: If the Vikings have concerns about their situation at left tackle, at least they know the Packers also will have their hands full at that position. That's because Allen, a Pro Bowler, will be playing his first regular-season game as a member of the Vikings. Clifton is a solid player and performed well last season against Allen, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2007.


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