Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers; Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers battle in week-two of the NFL season.

Detroit Lions (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-1)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Bill Maas
SERIES: This is the 146th regular-season meeting. The Packers lead, 76-62-7. Detroit hasn't win in Green Bay since 1991. That's nine losses in a row.
2003 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 25th (25th rush, 19th pass); defense 32nd (15th rush, 32nd pass). Packers: offense 17th (27th rush, 11th pass); defense 24th (29th rush, 12th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: With Lions DTs Dan Wilkinson and Shaun Rogers clogging up the middle, RB Ahman Green will need to run off tackle in order to be effective and take pressure off a Green Bay passing game likely to be minus WRs Donald Driver (neck) and Robert Ferguson (ankle). Regardless, Packers QB Brett Favre will attack Detroit's secondary, which allowed 344 yards passing to Arizona. With little running game to speak of on offense, the Lions need to utilize the short passing game to prevent third-and-long situations and to control the clock.
FAST FACTS: Lions: Detroit hasn't won a road game vs. Green Bay since Dec. 15, 1991, a span of 12 games. ... The team has not started a season 2-0 since 2000. ... DBs Corey Harris, Dre' Bly and Jimmy Wyrick had 18 of the team's 49 tackles in the season opener. Packers: None of the first eight opponents this season had a winning record in 2002. ... Green Bay's average age of 26.45 is a full year younger than the Lions' (27.45).

PREDICTED SCORE: Packers 20, Lions 13

   -- WR Az-Zahir Hakim (knee) practiced Thursday for the first time since having arthroscopic knee surgery four weeks ago but coach Steve Mariucci said he won't decide until late in the week whether to use the starting slot receiver in the Lions game at Green Bay.
   -- LG Eric Beverly missed a day of practice with a groin injury but was back at work Thursday and is expected to play in the Lions game Sunday at Green Bay.
   -- DE James Hall missed the Lions' Wednesday practice with a slight ankle sprain but practiced Thursday and is expected to play Sunday at Green Bay.
   -- DT Cory Redding, who made a good initial impression before suffering a knee injury in the second preseason game, is practicing this week and hopes to join DTs Dan Wilkinson, Shaun Rogers and Kelvin Pritchett in the defensive line rotation but coach Steve Mariucci said that decision hasn't been made yet.
   -- LB James Davis is back on the practice field nearly a month after suffering a rib injury in the Lions second preseason game but it is not likely he will be in the lineup Sunday at Green Bay.
   -- CB Otis Smith, signed by the Lions two weeks ago after they lost starting CB Chris Cash for the season with a knee injury, is likely to get increased playing time in the Lions nickel defense Sunday at Green Bay.
   -- CB Alex Molden, signed by the Lions after a troublesome season opener in their defensive secondary, is still getting acquainted with the Lions defensive backs and schemes. If he plays at all at Green Bay on Sunday, it will probably be in a limited role in the nickel or dime defense.

   --WR Donald Driver (neck-head) is out this week and possibly one or two more. Coach Mike Sherman said he was still suffering from headaches.
   --WR Robert Ferguson (ankle) missed another day of practice Thursday and isn't expected to play Sunday against Detroit. He says that he will attempt to run Friday.
   --TE Wesley Walls (hamstring) is listed as questionable but practiced in pads both Wednesday and Thursday. "He had a good practice," offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said Wednesday. "He said at times he didn't feel it at all and other times he felt it, but I don't think it bothered him a whole lot."
   --S Darren Sharper (groin) wore pads and participated in the individual part of practice Thursday before reporters were ushered out. He played about 20 snaps against the Vikings. He is listed as probable.
   --CB Chris Johnson (knee) is out.
   --RB Ahman Green has surpassed 100 yards rushing four times in his last five games against Detroit. The Packers are 14-0 when he hits 100.
   --QB Brett Favre is 7-1 against teams coached by Steve Mariucci during his six years in San Francisco. Mariucci and Favre were like brothers when Mariucci was his position coach in Green Bay from 1992-'94.

   Neither the Lions nor the Green Bay Packers should feel overmatched in the area of the Lions' defensive secondary and the Packers' wide receivers.
   Both have been hit hard by injuries and both will be playing with patchwork lineups in the game Sunday at Lambeau Field.
   Lions coach Steve Mariucci is likely to give cornerback Otis Smith (two weeks on the roster) additional playing in the nickel and dime defense, and it's possible cornerback Alex Molden (one week on the roster) will see action also.
   The adjustments in the Lions' defensive secondary are a result of injuries that cost Mariucci starting cornerback Chris Cash (knee) and backup Chris Watson (back) for the season, and a poor performance by nickel back Jimmy Wyrick and starting corner Andre Goodman in the season opener.
   Under normal circumstances, the Lions' patched-up secondary would be an open invitation for Packers QB Brett Favre to pick them apart but Favre lost his leading receiver -- Donald Driver -- to a neck injury and it appears Robert Ferguson (knee and ankle) won't be 100 percent if they play.
   The Lions still have cause for concern, however. Last week they were ravaged for 10 catches, 217 yards and two TDs by Arizona rookie Anquan Boldin, so there's no telling what Packers Javon Walker and Antonio Freeman might do with Favre throwing to them.

   The secondary of the Detroit Lions was singed last week by Arizona quarterback Jeff Blake, who threw for 363 yards in the Lions' 42-24 victory at Ford Field. Now the Lions come to Lambeau Field, no doubt breathing much easier that the Packers' receiving corps has been obliterated by injuries.
   No. 1 Donald Driver is out with a neck-head injury. No. 2 Robert Ferguson wasn't even at practice Thursday and almost certainly will not play. No. 4 Karsten Bailey pulled a hamstring against Minnesota and was waived Wednesday.
   Against the Lions, the Packers will line up with No. 3 Javon Walker as No. 1, veteran Antonio Freeman as No. 2, free agent Chris Jackson as No. 3 and kick returner Antonio Chatman as No. 4.
   Freeman and Jackson were signed off the street for minimum wage. Freeman got the $655,000 minimum, or 16/17ths of that amount. Just $423,529 will count against the cap, and the Packers agreed to guarantee him that amount.
   You've got no choice," quarterback Brett Favre said of playing with a depleted cast. "Come Sunday, it doesn't matter how much time you've had together or haven't had together."

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