by Troy Sparks-MCJ Sports Editor
Many people wondered how the Green Bay Packers would respond in their first real test of the season. They barely passed it against New Orleans, Sept. 8.
The 42-34 win at Lambeau Field was impressive, especially when you had the game’s last two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks matched up against each other. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees gave the fans their money’s worth.
Some of the criticism focused on how Rodgers would play in a real contest with only the benefit of training camp. He chose not to gather his offensive team and work together during the NFL lockout. Brees had no problem with getting his troops together for team bonding.
That’s not to say that Rodgers is isolated towards his teammates as Brett Favre sometimes was when he quarterbacked the Packers. Rodgers felt that it was up to the individual players to work out on their own. They had about five weeks to prepare for the regular season.
The evidence showed that the score should not have been that close. The Saints were a yard away from the end zone with seconds remaining in the game. The defense held them up in a goal line stand.
If they would’ve crossed the goal line and made the two-point conversion, the score would’ve been tied at 42 going into overtime. The Packers probably was in for their first loss of the year because they’re so-so in winning games in OT.
After a 10-day gap in the schedule, the players had five days off until they met again Sept. 14 to plan for their next game at Carolina, Sept. 18. That gave the coaching staff enough time to dissect the film from that game and point out the breakdown in the special teams play and giving up big plays.
Two of the six penalties in the game were false starts against T. J. Lang. Lang won the left guard spot over rookie Derek Sherrod. That position was vacated when Daryn Colledge went to Arizona.
Green Bay will have their hands full in trying to stop the passing attack of rookie quarterback and Heismann Trophy winner, Cam Newton. He threw for over 400 yards in his first regular season start for the Panthers in a loss.
This will be the 11th meeting between the two teams. The Packers are 6-4 all-time and 4-2 in Carolina. The last time that Green Bay visited Carolina was in 2005. The Panthers beat the Packers at Lambeau in 2008. Brett Favre helped the Packers defeat the Panthers in the 1996 NFC Championship Game at home.
Rodgers will spread the ball around again. He will make sure that he throws a pass to Donald Driver for more than a yard. Driver tied the all-time mark for career reception yards with James Lofton with 9,656. Give him a yard so he can own the record by himself.
Notable players for Green Bay who are out of action due to injury are defensive end Mike Neal with a knee injury and linebacker Frank Zombo with a bum shoulder. Cornerback Tramon Williams was held out of practice with a shoulder injury.