GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers could be in the market for another offensive lineman, whether it is through a trade, waiver claim or free agency.

If they were going to keep a fourth offensive tackle, it likely would have been first-year pro Aaron Adams, who spent all of last season on their practice squad. But the knee injury Adams sustained on the Packers' second play from scrimmage in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs turned out to be season-ending.

Adams tore both his ACL and MCL on the play, according to a league source. When the Packers make their final cuts on Saturday, Adams will be placed on injured reserve.

The Packers have eight offensive linemen who are locks to make the final cut. One of those eight, projected starting center JC Tretter, won't be able to play for at least the first month of the season because of the knee injury he sustained last week.

That would leave the Packers with only two healthy backups, tackle Derek Sherrod and guard Lane Taylor.

The Packers have at least two other injuries from the preseason finale to consider before Saturday's cuts. Rookie defensive end Khyri Thornton sustained a hamstring injury that his agent, Rodney Edwards, said on Friday could keep the third-round pick out for a few weeks. Also, second-year linebacker Nate Palmer sustained a knee injury, but the severity was not known.
The preseason is over and on Thursday night, many Detroit Lions starters did not play a snap against Buffalo.

But many players battling for roster spots did.

Here’s a peek and some analysis on the defensive snap counts:


Larry Webster 29 snaps (48 percent); Darryl Tapp 25 snaps (42 percent); George Johnson 23 snaps (38 percent); Devin Taylor 23 snaps (38 percent); Ezekiel Ansah 15 snaps (25 percent).

Analysis: The Lions are still trying to get Webster as much experience as possible to try and work him into a rotation player as soon as possible. Nothing else to really read into here.


Xavier Proctor 29 snaps (48 percent); Jimmy Saddler-McQueen 29 snaps (48 percent); C.J. Mosley 21 snaps (35 percent); Andre Fluellen 20 snaps (33 percent); Nick Fairley 13 snaps (22 percent); Caraun Reid 13 snaps (22 percent).

Analysis: This went about as expected other than Reid, who appeared to have some sort of injury in the game. But Proctor and Saddler-McQueen are players Detroit wanted to get one last look at, perhaps for practice squad decisions.


Tahir Whitehead 28 snaps (47 percent); Travis Lewis 26 snaps (43 percent); Julian Stanford 25 snaps (42 percent); Brandon Hepburn 23 snaps (38 percent); DeAndre Levy 7 snaps (12 percent); Stephen Tulloch 7 snaps (12 percent); Shamari Benton 2 snaps (3 percent).

Analysis: With Kyle Van Noy out, the Lions played Whitehead probably more than they would have liked. Lewis needed to continue to show linebacker skills. That Benton played fewer snaps than the starters is not a good sign for his roster chances.


Chris Greenwood 40 snaps (67 percent); Nevin Lawson 31 snaps (52 percent); Cassius Vaughn 29 snaps (48 percent); Mohammed Seisay 25 snaps (42 percent); Bill Bentley 21 snaps (35 percent); Darius Slay 15 snaps (25 percent).

Analysis: Rashean Mathis didn’t play and Slay didn’t need to do much, especially once Sammy Watkins left the game. The Lions needed to play Greenwood a lot since he is on the roster bubble and likely wanted to give Lawson as many snaps as possible. Seisay’s 25 snaps feel like an attempt to hide a good player for practice squad purposes.


Jerome Couplin 45 snaps (75 percent); Isa Abdul-Quddus 40 snaps (67 percent); Nate Ness 25 snaps (42 percent); Glover Quin 10 snaps (17 percent).

Analysis: With Don Carey and James Ihedigbo not traveling, there were a lot of snaps for Couplin, Abdul-Quddus and Ness to have one last chance to impress. Couplin again showed up a lot of places and seems to be close to a roster spot. Abdul-Quddus intercepted another pass. With Carey and Ihedigbo’s status unknown, he’s almost a lock for the roster at this point.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers fell from atop the ESPN #NFLRank list.

But he's still the highest-ranked quarterback.

The Green Bay Packers star slipped to No. 2 in the second annual offensive player list, flip-flopping spots with Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, but Rodgers remained on top of the quarterback class. He edged out Denver's Peyton Manning (No. 3 overall).

Other quarterbacks in the top 10 were New Orleans' Drew Brees (No. 6) and New England's Tom Brady (No. 7).

According to ESPN Stats & Information, since Rodgers became the Packers' starting QB in 2008, his 3.67 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the best in the NFL. His Total QBR of 74 during that span is second only to Peyton Manning (80).

The Packers finished with nine players in the top 100 combined on offense and defense. Only four teams – San Francisco (15 players), Seattle (13), New England (10) and Denver (10) – placed more players on the lists.

Here are the Packers in the rankings:

No. 95: CB Sam Shields
No. 81: DT B.J. Raji
No. 50: OLB Julius Peppers
No. 14: Clay Matthews

No. 77: G Josh Sitton
No. 66: WR Randall Cobb
No. 60: RB Eddie Lacy
No. 34: WR Jordy Nelson
No. 2: QB Aaron Rodgers
The preseason is over and on Thursday night, many Detroit Lions starters did not play a snap against Buffalo.

But many players battling for roster spots did.

Here’s a peek and some analysis on the offensive snap counts:


Kellen Moore 56 snaps (77 percent); Dan Orlovsky 17 snaps (23 percent)

Analysis: Moore was going to get the majority of snaps in Buffalo. Orlovsky remains the No. 2 quarterback as Moore waits to find out if he has a roster spot or has to go through waivers. Moore had a strong preseason, though, and will give coaches something to think about.


George Winn 31 snaps (42 percent); Mikel Leshoure 26 snaps (36 percent); Theo Riddick 18 snaps (25 percent).

Analysis: Reggie Bush and Joique Bell didn’t play. Riddick didn’t see much time as the third back. This was a final audition for both Winn and Leshoure, and neither one stood out. Winn had the most carries for the second straight game and should be ahead of Leshoure on a roster spot fight if the team keeps either one.


Emil Igwenagu 22 snaps (30 percent); Jed Collins 5 snaps (7 percent)

Analysis: Montell Owens didn’t play, probably meaning he’s on the roster. Jim Caldwell said he wanted to take a long look at Igwenagu and he got it, although not sure how much he really saw.


Ryan Broyles 36 snaps (49 percent); Jeremy Ross 26 snaps (36 percent); Andrew Peacock 23 snaps (32 percent); Kris Durham 23 snaps (32 percent); Kevin Ogletree 23 snaps (32 percent); Patrick Edwards 23 snaps (32 percent); Corey Fuller 20 snaps (27 percent).

Analysis: No need for Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate to play. That Broyles was in the game so late was somewhat curious -- and leads to some question about his potential roster spot. That said, I have Broyles on my final projection. Fuller receiving the least amount of snaps again leads me to think the team might be trying to hide him for the practice squad.


Jordan Thompson 27 snaps (37 percent); Joseph Fauria 22 snaps (30 percent); Eric Ebron 21 snaps (29 percent); Michael Egnew 20 snaps (27 percent).

Analysis: Nothing to read into here, although the team took a look at Egnew. Still don’t think he fits anywhere on the roster.


Cornelius Lucas 56 snaps (77 percent); Michael Williams 56 snaps (77 percent); LaAdrian Waddle 17 snaps (23 percent); Corey Hilliard 10 snaps (14 percent); Riley Reiff 7 snaps (10 percent).

Analysis: Waddle received the start and it is still unclear who wins that right tackle between him and Hilliard. That Lucas and Williams received the same number of snaps, to me, means that’s still a really tight competition for the fourth tackle spot. Could be close to a 50-50 decision there.


Rodney Austin 66 snaps (90 percent); Travis Swanson 57 snaps (78 percent); Darren Keyton 55 snaps (75 percent); Garrett Reynolds 33 snaps (45 percent); Larry Warford 7 snaps (10 percent).

Analysis: Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims sat with no real reason to play. Warford played sparingly as the Lions needed to get some work for reserves. Reynolds getting the start was curious to me. That Austin played so much Thursday night makes me wonder if he is more on the roster bubble than previously thought, with both Keyton and Reynolds pushing him.
Examining the Detroit Lions' roster. This is the final projection of the roster. A practice squad projection will be up this morning, too.

Kellen Moore did what he could and might make it hard on the Lions coaches when it comes to deciding whether or not to keep the third-year quarterback as the team's No. 3 quarterback. Stafford is the starter. Orlovsky is the backup based on his preseason snaps and everything I've seen. Moore remains a true question mark.


Another tough call here. Staying with five in the final projection, although I could easily see a scenario where George Winn makes the team. Would be somewhat surprised if Mikel Leshoure stuck considering he does not bring special teams value and and did not run well in the preseason. Both Winn and Emil Igwenagu are practice-squad candidates.


Staying the same here, too, although Corey Fuller did catch another touchdown pass. If he doesn't end up on the final 53-man roster, the Lions will hope he slips through waivers for the practice squad. Broyles was curiously playing very late in Thursday's finale, so his spot might not be as secure as initially thought. Both Fuller and Andrew Peacock are practice squad possibilities.


All three will make the roster. Nothing is changing here barring injury.


Made a change here and it is somewhat of a bold one. Put Reynolds in the final projection over Rodney Austin. This is definitely a place I could be wrong, but it could be significant that Reynolds saw more time -- and appeared to hold up well -- against Buffalo. Also, he has much more experience than Austin and can play both guard and tackle. There's a possibility the Lions could stash Austin as well on the practice squad. Williams vs. Cornelius Lucas is also a tough call, but Williams appeared to outplay Lucas in the preseason and both have major potential as a fourth tackle.


As you'll see below, I pulled linebacker Kyle Van Noy off of the final roster projection because I think he ends up on injured reserve with a designation to return. This opens up one roster spot and I think it goes to Tapp, who has the flexibility to play defensive end or linebacker in an emergency situation. That might be enough to give him a roster spot in a position group that otherwise feels pretty set.


As mentioned above, I moved Van Noy to injured reserve in this projection, opening up a roster spot. If the Lions choose to keep a sixth linebacker, it would probably be Julian Stanford, but Lewis should beat him out and Detroit has other needs elsewhere. The other four linebackers are close to locks.


Another tough position call. Mohammed Seisay is likely bound for the practice squad, so it comes down to whether or not the team keeps Chris Greenwood on the active roster or tries to sneak him through to practice squad for one more season. Greenwood could very easily end up on the roster and if the Lions are feeling really adventurous, they could try to cut Lawson and move him to the practice squad, but Greenwood feels like the odd player out in the defensive backfield.

DeJon Gomes heading to injured reserve made this position much easier to predict. Quin and Ihedigbo are the starters. Abdul-Quddus had a better preseason than almost any other player on the roster. Carey is a special teams dynamo and has position flexibility. Couplin is a rookie and raw, but can play special teams and has the potential to eventually replace Ihedigbo in a couple of seasons.


No changes here. These are your specialists.
Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

Fales looked good in the first half of the preseason finale at Cleveland, but fell off somewhat in the second half. Still, Fales showed enough to prove he belongs. There's still a chance the Bears try to waive Fales and bring him back to the practice squad.

Senorise Perry and Jordan Lynch made late pushes in extended action to close the preseason, but neither will overtake Draughn and Carey.

Josh Bellamy made a strong case to make the team against the Browns, but Holmes showed he's still a dynamic player. In fact, if Holmes grasps the offense quickly enough, he could wind up as the No. 3 receiver, which would mean Wilson's time will have to wait.


Rosario remains the most well-rounded tight end among the candidates for the No. 2 spot, and should stick.


Britton returned to play in the preseason finale and while other players have flashed, the veteran is probably still the most consistent.

Cornelius Washington and David Bass, received extension action against the Browns. The Bears have a tough decision here, but would likely go with Bass' experience.


This group has struggled throughout the preseason, but the team will likely take these players into the regular season. Jerry Franklin remains on the bubble.


The combination of youth and experience makes this position group one of the team's strongest.


The Bears released Craig Steltz and M.D. Jennings didn't show much in the last preseason game.


The Bears could decide to use Holmes as the return man and make Bellamy the sixth receiver. Initially though, the Bears will probably take a chance on Williams although he missed the majority of the preseason due to a hamstring injury.
Examining the Minnesota Vikings' roster:

Coach Mike Zimmer said he didn't think the Vikings would only carry two quarterbacks, effectively quashing the idea the Vikings could cut Ponder to free up a spot elsewhere. Ponder received his first significant work of the preseason in the Vikings' final exhibition, and could still have some value in an emergency if the Vikings aren't ready to put Bridgewater on the field and they need someone to fill in for an injured or ineffective Cassel.


Asiata has played well during training camp and is listed ahead of McKinnon for the No. 2 running back spot behind Peterson at the moment. At the very least, both could have distinct roles behind Peterson, with Asiata as a downhill runner and McKinnon as a threat in the passing game.


General manager Rick Spielman singled out Thielen -- who spent last season on the Vikings' practice squad -- as a player who had improved from last year during the Vikings' minicamp, and the Minnesota State product continued to get better throughout training camp, making contributions on special teams in addition to his work as a receiver. Undrafted free agent Kain Colter received an $8,000 signing bonus from the Vikings, but the 6-foot-5 Smith sneaks in ahead of him to give the group a bigger target; he showed on Saturday night what his size can do for him when he caught the game-winning touchdown from Bridgewater on a fade route.


Even though Chase Ford is making progress in his recovery from a broken foot, he didn't play in a preseason game, and as much as the Vikings seemed to want to keep him, they might have to look elsewhere. If he is still hurt, that could open the door for Reisner, who caught a pair of touchdown passes from Bridgewater in goal-line situations on Saturday.


The Vikings seem set with their starting five from last season, which means Yankey will have to wait for a chance to push Johnson at left guard; everyone from Zimmer to offensive line coach Jeff Davidson seems to like the continuity the Vikings have enjoyed on the line. The Vikings worked Ducasse at tackle on Thursday night against Tennessee, and his ability to play both the guard and tackle spots might help the Vikings solve their question mark at the swing tackle spot.


This might be the deepest position group on the Vikings' roster, and they could all play in Zimmer's defensive line rotation. Wootton and Crichton give the Vikings a pair of versatile backups who can play inside or outside, and Johnson and Evans figure to be the primary backups at three-technique and nose tackle, respectively. Johnson has also seen time as the three-technique tackle in the Vikings' nickel rush package. If there's one player on the roster who could compel the Vikings to make room somewhere else, it might be Shamar Stephen, the seventh-round pick who has impressed Vikings coaches throughout camp and has seen time at both the three-technique and nose tackle positions.


In Cincinnati, Zimmer had linebacking groups of just six and five players, respectively, after training camp the past two seasons. If the position is similarly staffed this season, it could mean the Vikings will cut seventh-round pick Brandon Watts. There are plenty of questions at the position -- none of the three spots in the base defense is completely solidified -- but in Barr, Hodges, Mauti and Cole, the Vikings have some young talent to work with. Dean keeps his roster spot because of his continued contributions on special teams.


This position might have been the Vikings' biggest liability last season, and it remains unsettled even after the preseason. Price has been injured after a strong start to the preseason, and a quadriceps injury took Jamarca Sanford out of action again on Thursday, unable to compete for a starting spot at a safety position Zimmer said is still open. Sanford started the past two years for Leslie Frazier, but he has spent so little time on the field for Zimmer, it would take someone in the front office vouching for him in order for the Vikings to keep him at this point. Short of that, the guess here is he gets cut.


The group returns unchanged from what the Vikings had on their roster last season. Locke punted better toward the end of the season, and has already put in some work getting to know the wind patterns at TCF Bank Stadium.

Green Bay Packers' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:


If the Packers keep only two quarterbacks, bet on Tolzien being the backup while Flynn would be left out. But the more likely scenario is they keep both, and the proven winner (Flynn) is the backup this year while Tolzien takes another year to develop. Tolzien has shown too much promise to cut loose at this point.


Undrafted rookie LaDarius Perkins of Mississippi State made a late push, but there's probably not room for a fifth back.


Janis solidified his spot with his second touchdown catch of the preseason on Thursday against the Chiefs. If the Packers keep six receivers, it will come down to Kevin Dorsey or Alex Gillett.


Veteran Andrew Quarless, who received a $350,000 signing bonus last March as part of a two-year deal, never made any kind of push for a starting job and could find himself on the street. If there's a surprise cut this year, it's him.


This is a spot where the Packers could be in the market for help either via trade or off the waiver wire. They could use another backup on the interior of the line and at tackle. As long as Tretter is out, which could be another month because of a knee injury, there's not another true center available behind Linsley.


It would have been a tough call on whether to keep rookie third-round pick Khyri Thornton, who has been a non-factor in the preseason. But the hamstring injury he sustained against the Chiefs may have bought him a year on injured reserve. It's possible the loss of B.J. Raji to a season-ending torn biceps might force the Packers to go looking for another defensive tackle, but the return of Guion this week from a hamstring injury might be enough to fill the void. Pennel should make it as an undrafted rookie.


The knee injury that Nate Palmer sustained against the Chiefs may have given Bradford new life. If Palmer's injury is long-term, they can't keep him on the roster. It would be hard to give up on Bradford, a fourth-round pick, so soon. His move to inside linebacker last week may have saved him. Elliott, an undrafted rookie, showed too much pass-rushing promise to try to sneak through to the practice squad. Some team would claim the NFL's preseason sack leader (five sacks).


Rookie Demetri Goodson is another draft pick who might wind up on injured reserve (concussion). He has not done enough to warrant a roster spot. The Packers can afford to keep only five cornerbacks because safety Micah Hyde will play as a slot cornerback in the dime package. If they keep another one, look at Jumal Rolle, who got a late-season promotion from the practice squad last year.


This group went from the weak link of the defense last year to potentially having three starting-caliber players in Burnett, Hyde and Clinton-Dix. Plus, Richardson keeps showing playmaking potential, and Banjo has played a big part on special teams.


All three returning specialists are safe and secure.
Ndamukong Suh is one of the most polarizing players in the NFL. His talent has made him one of the best players in the league and a dominant defensive tackle. How he sometimes roughs up quarterbacks and others, though, has brought him a bunch of scrutiny.

Based on his play, however, there is little doubt he is in the Top 10.

Suh was one of two Detroit Lions players to be in the Top 10 of the #NFLRank project on either offense or defense and he comes in at No. 9 on defense. Calvin Johnson was named the top offensive player in the NFL from our 90-person panel.

Combined, they are two of the most dominant players in the NFL and last season they combined to be the two most feared players in the league.

Suh's skills are special for a defensive tackle. He is an elite pass-rusher who is also strong against the run. His size and speed make him capable of lining up outside on the end in some situations, and he commands double teams on almost every play.

It isn't a shock at all that he is in the Top 10 among defensive players. If anything, I'm kind of surprised he wasn't higher on the list, but because of the position he plays, his statistics sometimes don't explain exactly how good he is.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Things will be much different next week in Seattle. For starters, there will be 68,000-plus trying to break the sound barrier at CenturyLink Field.

And in the middle of it all, rookie Corey Linsley will be trying to snap the ball to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- something he has never done in a game.

If two series in the preseason finale were any sign -- and it might not be -- then the Packers believe Linsley will handle it without complications. In his first action since starting center JC Tretter sustained a knee injury that will keep him out for up to six weeks, Linsley played 22 snaps of near mistake-free football alongside a collection of second-stringers in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Linsley made all of the line adjustments that the Packers center normally would make -- "He had the controls of it, and he was making all the calls," said left guard Lane Taylor, who started next to Linsley -- and by his count had only one missed assignment, a wrong step on an outside zone run.

"He did a really nice job," said quarterback Matt Flynn, who took both series with Linsley. "We weren't getting a lot of exotic looks or anything but he did a nice job of setting the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage, making a quick declaration and getting us in the right spot. He's been impressive to me since I've been kind of working with him since the beginning of OTAs. I've been with him first-hand, and he's done a nice job."

But things will be different next week on the road against the Seahawks. Coach Mike McCarthy likely will want to run more of the no-huddle offense, a task that will be more difficult in the crowd noise. Against the Chiefs, they used it for just three of Linsley's 22 snaps.

Linsley was the only presumed Week 1 starting offensive lineman that suited up against the Chiefs, so the upcoming week of practice will be critical for him to fine-tune things with Rodgers and his fellow linemen. But there were no red flags that would cause the Packers to look for other options between now and the opener.

"I actually felt mentally and in terms of the intangible aspect of the game, I actually felt the most comfortable out there," said Linsley, a fifth-round pick from Ohio State. "They've been telling me to get the line and make the call quicker, and I felt that I did that better today than I ever have before, so I feel like I got better there."

The Packers gave Linsley some help. Several times, he and Taylor used combination blocks to secure Chiefs defensive linemen. However, on one play -- a 10-yard rush by DuJuan Harris on the second series -- Linsley got to the second-level and blocked linebacker James-Michael Johnson.

"I watched Corey and Lane early," McCarthy said. "I thought they did some really good things. I thought they were really composed, just managed the huddle. From what I did see I thought they played well."
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- A fan asked Matthew Stafford a question Wednesday. It was almost a silly question six years into the quarterback’s NFL career -- especially since throughout his whole career, he has known one receiver more than anyone.

 To paraphrase the question: Was there any awkwardness for him, as a Georgia player, to throw to a receiver who went to rival Georgia Tech?

It took Stafford essentially one day to get over that. When a player is as gifted as Calvin Johnson, it’s easy to forget about college loyalties.

For Stafford, this connection has been extra special and extra important, and he knows it. Johnson is a special player. He is the best receiver in the NFL and perhaps one of the top pass-catchers of all time. Stafford is the second-fastest quarterback ever to throw for 10,000 yards, and a lot of that has to do with the man at the other end of so many of his passes.

All of those skills are why Johnson was named the top offensive player in the NFL by our 90 panelists here at ESPN. This may be a quarterback-driven league, but Johnson is one of the few players any quarterback in the league would want to make him look even better.

In seven years in the NFL, Johnson has amassed 572 catches for 9,328 yards and 66 touchdowns. He holds the single-season receiving yards record with 1,964 yards, and the combination of all of his physical gifts make him torturous to cover for opposing defensive backs, who nearly all admit to needing help to do it.

“When I first came into the league, Randy Moss was kind of that big, long receiver who could stretch the field, run by you, separate from any corner he played against,” cornerback Quentin Jammer told last year. “[Johnson] is a bigger version of that, [he can] out-muscle you and run by you.”

Then there’s how Johnson acts on and off the field. In a wide receiver world in which so many skill players like to talk and draw attention to themselves, Johnson does none of that. He’s almost universally liked, even by the players who have to cover him.

 He is fairly quiet. He rarely boasts and often appears uncomfortable talking about his own ability and feats. He is a superstar in skill and in game, but he's a regular guy when it comes to how he acts.

“When you talk about going against a guy, you look at off-the-field presence, who he is as a player, and he’s just a hardworking, stand-up, nice guy off the field, very humble,” Miami cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. “So it’s hard to try and p--- him off, you know. It’s just one of those things.

“But you just want to compete with him because you understand in order to become better and be on to his level, you have to play good every snap because he’s going to bring it every snap. It’s one of those things that you know every single play can be that game-changing play.”

Not many players in the NFL are like that -- and Johnson is one of the most dangerous and best at accomplishing it.

ESPN NFL Nation Denver Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold contributed to this report.
CLEVELAND -- Veteran Santonio Holmes' odds of making the Chicago Bears' 53-man roster increased on Thursday when the wide receiver turned a routine slant route into a 32-yard second-quarter touchdown reception, a sequence that proved Holmes still has the ability to make impact plays at the NFL level.

"It was a slant route and I felt the coverage of the defender; he was playing a little over the top," Holmes said. "I made a couple good plays afterwards and finished the play off."

Holmes admits he hasn't mastered the entire Bears' playbook since he signed with the team two weeks ago, but the former Super Bowl MVP gives the team experience and flexibility, not just on offense, but also on special teams. Holmes followed up his touchdown with a 30 yard punt return, one of the few bright spots in the return game for the Bears all preseason.

"We saw the punt return. Obviously, he did a good job with that," head coach Marc Trestman said. "How far along is he in the offense? Is he really ready to play enough plays to help us in that regard as we start the season? Can he catch some punts? It looks like he can. So we'll have that discussion and try to put it all together over the weekend to get us going moving forward Monday and into practice on Wednesday."

Holmes excelled in the return game early in his NFL career, but generally speaking, accomplished older players tend to lose their zest to field punts and kickoffs over time. However, Holmes' versatility could be a serious asset to the Bears after the team lost numerous core special teams players since the end of last season.

"I wouldn't say I would lobby for it [a role in the return game]," Holmes said. "If the opportunity and the spot opens up and coach wants me to play as a returner; I'll do whatever I can to help the team.

"I really felt in my heart that I can continue playing. Given this opportunity to play again, I just really take advantage of the opportunity. And the opportunity came today with me making a big play for the team."

Bears players are scheduled to report to Halas Hall for a weight lifting session at 1 p.m. on Friday, where the team will begin to trim the roster from 75 to 53 in advance of Saturday afternoon's deadline.

Does Holmes anticipate sweating out the final cuts?

"I still don't think I'm going to be concerned," Holmes said. "I'll leave it up to the coaches. If they want me here, I'll be here. If not, hopefully I'll land a job somewhere else."
GREEN BAY, Wis. – We'll see if Mike McCarthy feels the same way in a week, but after Thursday night's preseason finale – a 34-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field – the Green Bay Packers coach made a bold statement to his team that he later repeated to the media.

"I don't know if I've felt this good coming out of the preseason as I do tonight," McCarthy said.

With the regular-season opener next Thursday at the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, McCarthy wasn't willing to look any further than where his team stood coming out of the preseason.

"I don't jump out and make statements, but our goal is simply the same every year: We're here to win championships," McCarthy said. "That's what we're working for. That will never change. That's a part of being a Green Bay Packer, but with that, we're not ignorant to the fact that you play 16 games, and we've got a game coming up here next Thursday."

If McCarthy was giddy about his team's preseason, which included a 3-1 record, it's probably because he felt just the opposite coming out of camp the past two summers.

"I haven't felt that way in," McCarthy said, "it's been awhile."

Rookie center Corey Linsley does not know the recent history of training camps past, but McCarthy's statement still resonated with him.

"I feel that when a head coach like Coach McCarthy says something like that, it's for real," Linsley said.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Three days before the Green Bay Packers' preseason finale, quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt had one wish for his last look at backup quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien.

"I'd like to see them both make it really hard," Van Pelt said on Monday.

Two touchdown passes per man combined with passer ratings of better than 100 for each in Thursday's 34-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the preseason finale might have made even harder than Van Pelt could have imagined.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy will have to pick one of them to serve as the backup for Aaron Rodgers, who was given the night off along with most of the other starters. Just as difficult might be whether to keep both backups on the 53-man roster.

"I think Matt and Scott have both championed the case to be on our football team," McCarthy said after the game. "I felt very good about their progress from last year through the spring and all the way through training camp and watching it live, I think they both played very well tonight."

Flynn played the first and third quarters. He threw touchdown passes of 22 yards to Davante Adams and 11 yards on a screen pass to LaDarius Perkins. Tolzien handled the second and fourth. He threw touchdowns passes of 33 yards to Jeff Janis and 6 yards to Myles White. Each put up 17 points.

Tolzien's overall numbers (12-of-18 passing for 139 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 126.9) were slightly better than Flynn's (7-of-15 for 102 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 108.9) just as they have been throughout the preseason.

If the Packers went simply by the numbers, it wouldn't be close. For the entire preseason, Tolzien completed 38 of 56 passes (67.9 percent) for 477 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, which equates to a passer rating of 112.0. Flynn was 18-of-38 (47.4 percent) for 232 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 82.3.

But the Packers can't ignore Flynn's history. He was the backup here from 2008-11 and then returned last season to bail out the Packers after Rodgers' injury and unsuccessful starts by Seneca Wallace and Tolzien.

"I've said it from Day 1, and it's true: I'm not just saying it to be saying it, but I really haven't paid attention to any competition," Flynn said. "I've been out there supporting Scott. I have never wanted to compare apples to apples or even try to. I don't think anybody really does in a competition."

McCarthy said the decision about how many quarterbacks to keep will come down to more than just the competition between Flynn and Tolzien. It also could be impacted by competition at other spots.

Earlier in the week, Rodgers made a plea for his bosses to keep both of his backups. Tolzien said he would be fine with that.

"I like our room and first and foremost, they're great guys," Tolzien said. "It's truly been the most fun I've ever had play football, having those guys in the room. They keep the mood light, and it's been fun in that regard. You spend so much time preparing for these guys that you're always happy for the other guy's success just because you see how much time we put into it together. It's nice when it shows up on game day."

Chicago's starters received the night off, prompting the club to point the spotlight Thursday night on a group of backups comprised mostly of players not likely to survive final cuts.

Squaring off against Cleveland's starters, the Bears reserves held their own for two quarters in playing to a four-point deficit at the half, before eventually falling to the Browns 33-13.

Here are some other thoughts on the club's final preseason game:
  • Santonio Holmes quashed any question of whether he can still play against the Browns, taking in his only catch of the night from David Fales for a 32-yard touchdown in the second quarter. After hauling in the back-shoulder throw from Fales, Holmes spun outside and eluded Browns first-round pick Justin Gilbert en route to the score. Upon arriving at the sideline, Holmes gave the ball to Fales. “You see the explosion in him,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He caught a short throw, turned and ran, separated from the defense. That's a good sign.” Later in the quarter, Holmes fielded a punt and stumbled between a pair of tacklers to reel off a 30-yard return. It's probably safe to say Holmes' name won't be called for final cuts as the Bears saw what they needed to see. That's probably why Holmes came out after halftime no longer wearing pads. Now, the Bears need to work overtime to get Holmes up to speed to fill the No. 3 receiver role along with Josh Morgan.
  • Speaking of erasing doubts, it appears Fales did just that against the Browns. Starting in place of Jay Cutler, Fales completed 13 of 24 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown to Holmes. Fales made good decisions for the majority of his snaps in the first two quarters. What's more is Fales executed well against Cleveland's starters, as it played mostly first teamers in the first half. Chicago's brass will have a difficult choice to make, and -- depending on how much the team likes Fales -- might be forced to go into the season with three quarterbacks. If the Bears decide to waive Fales and bring him back to the practice squad, that plan could backfire as the quarterback would draw plenty of interest from other teams. Fales led the Bears to scores on three of their five first-half drives, but wasn't as sharp in the second half.
  • Josh Bellamy made Chicago's pending decision about which receivers to keep on the roster more difficult by the way he performed against the Browns. Bellamy caught four passes for 78 yards and drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty against Leon McFadden that provided the bulk of Chicago's yardage during its opening drive, which ended on a Robbie Gould 39-yard field goal.
  • With the regular-season opener against Buffalo on the horizon, the Bears held out the starters on both sides of the ball. The club kept out key reserves as well such as Morgan and Micheal Spurlock, along with running back Ka'Deem Carey, defensive end Trevor Scott, and defensive tackle Ego Ferguson. Second-team guard Eben Britton made his preseason debut against the Browns after missing a good portion of training camp and the preseason with a pulled hamstring. Safety Chris Conte (concussion) traveled with the team, but did not play as he continues to work through the league's concussion protocol.
  • The Bears must trim the roster from 75 players to 53 by Saturday at 3 p.m. CST.