Thursday, September 1, 2011
Previewing NFC North preseason Week 4
By Kevin Seifert
Welcome to preseason Week 4, where most players you know and love will take up residence on the sideline. All four NFC North teams are in action Thursday night. I've tossed out a few talking points below and will have some postgame thoughts either late tonight or, more likely, first thing Friday morning.
Opponent: Cleveland Browns
Location: Soldier Field
Key issues: Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie has a 55.9 passer rating this preseason, having thrown two interceptions and no touchdowns in 53 attempts. His job isn't threatened, but the Bears would like to see him finish summer on a higher note. ... Do the Bears have any pass-rushing depth other than tackle/end Amobi Okoye? This game should provide give us some definitive answers.
Opponent: Buffalo Bills
Location: Ralph Wilson Stadium
Key issues: The Lions have built significant momentum this summer and, frankly, escaping unscathed Thursday night should be their only goal. They should take a long look at their running back depth, determine a winner in their punting derby between Nick Harris and Ryan Donahue, and get back to Detroit.
Green Bay Packers
Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs
Location: Lambeau Field
Key issues: The Packers need to decide how many receivers and tight ends they'll keep and then make decisions accordingly. Will receiver Chastin West make the team? How about receiver/punt blocker Tori Gurley? Also, third-string quarterback Graham Harrell should get a long opportunity to lock down a roster spot.
Opponent: Houston Texans
Key issues: Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder will start. Will he earn the No. 2 job behind Donovan McNabb? Or will it be Joe Webb? We'll also get a look at the Vikings' depth, or lack thereof, behind tailback Adrian Peterson. It's interesting to note they tried to claim former Lions fullback/running back Jerome Felton. Meanwhile, second-year defensive end Everson Griffen will get a look at linebacker as the team looks for depth behind its starters.