1. QB Aaron Rodgers approaches 300 career TD passes – The Packers star is at 297 heading into Sunday’s opener, and the most impressive statistic related to the milestone is that Rodgers has thrown just 72 interceptions in his career. The fewest INTs by any QB in NFL history at the time he threw his 300th TD is 115, by New England’s Tom Brady. Packers QB coach Alex Van Pelt, a former quarterback himself, has trouble comprehending numbers like that. “No. I can’t,” Van Pelt said. “It’s a tribute to him and his ability to take care of the football. It’s a strength of his. It always has been. It’s one of the best things he does. He knows when to pull the trigger and fit it in a tight spot. I don’t know if it’ll ever be touched.”
2. Seahawks S Earl Thomas returns – Last season, Rodgers posted a season-high 150.8 passer rating against Seattle’s stingy defense. How? In part because the Seahawks were playing their first game without the All-Pro Thomas, who had broken his leg the week before. “Completely different,” WR Randall Cobb said of Seattle’s defense with the speedy, sideline-to-sideline Thomas back in action. “Earl Thomas is a game-changer. His ability, what he brings to that defense, it can’t be replaced, it can’t be simulated. He’s a big-time player.” The Seahawks hadn’t given up more than 25 points all season until Thomas went down, and then they surrendered 34 or more in three of the six games he missed, including their playoff loss to Atlanta.
3. LB Ahmad Brooks makes his Packers debut – Green Bay gave the pass rush a big boost with the late acquisition of an accomplished veteran in Brooks, who was a star in San Francisco’s dominant defenses from earlier this decade. While Clay Matthews concedes the bulk of the pressure on opposing QBs must still come from him and Nick Perry, having a proven pro like Brooks seamlessly slide into the rotation could prove invaluable. “Watching him have success when the 49ers were having success, I’m obviously a big fan of his,” Matthews said. “To add a player of his caliber, not only physically on the field, but also within the locker room, too, and his knowledge and know-how, I think really helps this defense out.”
4. RB Eddie Lacy comes back to Lambeau – The former Packers running back rushed for more than 3,400 yards and 23 TDs in four seasons in Green Bay. He signed with the Seahawks as a free agent this past spring, and now it’s his former teammates who will have to tackle him. Lacy could be in for a hefty workload with Seattle RB Thomas Rawls just coming back from an ankle injury.
5. RT Bryan Bulaga questionable for Packers – Bulaga practiced on a limited basis this week, and he is questionable for the game with an ankle injury sustained two weeks ago in training camp. He has missed just one game since the early stages of the 2015 season, but if he can’t go, the job will likely fall to second-year pro Kyle Murphy, a sixth-round draft pick from Stanford a year ago. Seattle’s edge rushers on that side include Michael Bennett and Frank Clark, who combined for 15 sacks last season.