The Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles meet on Saturday night at Lambeau Field, but the two teams' starting quarterbacks may not be in action.
Already dealing with the torn ACL suffered by receiver Jordy Nelson during the preseason, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t elaborated on whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers will play or for how long in a game that’s typically the most competitive in the preseason.
The same goes for the Eagles with quarterback Sam Bradford. Coming off two straight seasons marred by ACL tears, Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly might be right to exercise caution with Bradford, however the signal caller told reporters he plans to play, according to Philly.com.
The quarterbacks seem split on whether they actually need to play. Bradford has played in two series with his new squad during the preseason, and he stressed that it would be good to get more time in and develop a rhythm with the offense.
Rodgers, on the other hand, indicated the offense is “where it needs to be” and doesn’t seem too keen on playing when nothing’s on the line. Instead, it seems likely Rodgers could see one series, and turn the game over to veteran Matt Blanchard and rookie Brett Hundley.
The Eagles could again opt to go with a combination of Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, and Tim Tebow, with the last two competing for the No. 3 position on the depth chart and face a possible cut when rosters are pared down in the next week.
Whoever is under center, the game will feature several interesting subplots, especially when it comes to injuries and who is fighting for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
Rodgers' reticence to play may have something to do with the depth of his starting offensive line. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, who guards Rodgers' blindside, has missed the last two weeks of practice, and guards T.J. Lang (concussion) and Josh Sitton (ankle) are also banged up, leaving only Corey Linsley and Bryan Bulaga to start against Philadelphia.
Philadelphia has a rash of injuries heading into the game. NJ.com reports receiver Josh Huff missed practice earlier this week second straight time after a close friend of his died. He told reporters after returning to practice on Friday that he wasn’t sure if he would play against Green Bay.
Tight end Zach Ertz is still recovering from groin surgery, but has been seen at practice as a non-participant. Outside linebacker Marcus Smith (hamstring) could be out not only against Green Bay but maybe even the final preseason matchup against the New York Jets. He’s reportedly fighting for a roster spot.
Further hampering the Eagles linebacker corps is the unknown injury to Bryan Braman, but Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, and DeMeco Ryans all came back to practice this week.
Players to Watch
With three of their starters down, Don Barclay figures to start on Green Bay’s offensive line at left tackle but he’s had some troubles during preseason which might leave room for second-year guard Josh Walker to emerge as the top reserve. Walker's likely to start with J.C. Tretter and Taylor Lane beside him.
Nelson’s injury has also afforded more of a competition at wide receiver, with rookie Ty Montgomery and second-year wide out Jeff Janis battling for the No. 3 spot.
Both could have looked very good with Rodgers under center, but how they play with Blanchard and Hundley, a combined two years of NFL experience behind them, could tell McCarthy a lot about his young receivers.
Meanwhile, the ongoing battle between Tebow and Barkley continues to wage. Barkley’s proven to be the better passer, while Tebow’s shown improvement and has far more versatility. The amount of snaps each gets could determine the spot.
And Huff’s likely absence opens the door for first-round pick and receiver Nelson Agholor, a former USC standout who’s capable of putting up major numbers. He’s seen a lot of action during the preseason, and could move up the depth chart with a solid performance Saturday.
Kickoff Time: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
TV Channels: NBC 10 (Philadelphia) and NBC (Green Bay)
Live Online: NFL Game Pass