preseason action kicks off
- The Green Bay Packers’ 2010 season officially kicks off this evening as the Cleveland Browns come to Lambeau Field for a preseason contest, the second straight year the teams have faced each other in the preseason opener. * Green Bay lines up against another opponent for the first time since Jan. 10, when it fell to Arizona 51-45 in overtime in a Wild Card playoff contest.
- Saturday marks the debut of rookie and free-agent acquisitions, as well as a potent offense that returns all of its starters from 2009. Under the direction of Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the offensive play-caller, the unit ranked No. 6 in total offense a season ago. McCarthy has led the offense to a top-10 ranking in total offense each of his four seasons, joining New Orleans as the only team to accomplish that from 2006-09.
- Saturday’s contest also features a defense in its second year under defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Implementing his 3-4 scheme, Capers led one of the biggest statistical turnarounds in franchise history as the Packers improved to a No. 2 overall defensive ranking and No. 1 ranking against the run after Green Bay finished No. 20 and No. 26 in those respective categories the previous season.
- As has been the case under McCarthy in previous preseasons, starters aren’t expected to play more than a few series. Maintaining the health of the football team will be the ultimate determining factor, as will the need to see a number of younger players in live game action. Teams must make the first roster cut, to 75 players, on Aug. 31.
- Tonight marks the 22nd preseason meeting in the all-time series between Cleveland and Green Bay. The Packers came away with a 17-0 victory over the Browns in the 2009 preseason opener.
midwest shrine game
- One of the NFL’s longest team traditions, the Upper Midwest Shrine Game kicks off its 61st installment tonight.
- Each season, the Packers donate a percentage of the gate to the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
- The Shriners’ facilities provide specialized medical services, helping children with birth defects and other injuries, at absolutely no cost.
- To date, the series has raised more than $3.1 million for the Midwest Shrine’s burn centers and hospitals for disabled children.
- Green Bay is 31-26-3 all-time in the series. Cleveland played Green Bay in the game in 1983 (a 21-20 Browns win) and in 2009 (a 17-0 Packers win).
- The series has called three separate stadiums home: Milwaukee’s State Fair Park (1950-51), Milwaukee County Stadium (1952-82, 1984-94) and Lambeau Field (1983, 1995-present).
- In his first season leading the Packers, Vince Lombardi made an agreement with George Halas to play in the Shrine game annually. Green Bay and Chicago played each preseason in County Stadium from 1959-73.
- The Packers annually designate the Shrine game as the first ‘Gold package’ game for season-ticket holders primarily from the Milwaukee area. The team created the three-game package after moving all of its home games to Green Bay in 1995. Also in the ‘Gold package’ this season are the contests against Detroit (Oct. 3) and Dallas (Nov. 7).
New Browns president Mike Holmgren is the former head coach of the Packers (1992-99) who led the team to six consecutive playoff appearances, back-to-back Super Bowls, and the Super Bowl XXXI championship in 1996...Holmgren’s senior advisor, Gil Haskell, coached both Green Bay’s RBs (1992-94) and WRs (1995-97) under Holmgren in Green Bay...Browns strength and conditioning coach Kent Johnston held the same post under Holmgren in Green Bay (1992-98)...Browns VP of football operations, Mark Schiefelbein, spent the previous 18 years (1992-2009) in the Packers’ front office...As the Saints’ offensive coordinator, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy tutored Browns QB Jake Delhomme when both were in New Orleans together from 2000-02...Packers asst. strength and conditioning coach Dave Redding broke into the NFL with the Browns in 1982 as the team’s first-ever strength coach...Clay Matthews Jr., the father of Packers LB Clay Matthews III, played the first 16 of his 19 seasons in the NFL for the Browns (1978-93)...Browns T Joe Thomas hails from the Milwaukee area and played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin...Browns WR Jake Allen spent parts of the past two seasons with the Packers and appeared in one game in ’09...Browns TE Evan Moore was with the Packers during training camp in 2008-09 and spent the ’08 season with the team on injured reserve.
save the date
Important dates to remember (all times CDT):
- Saturday, Aug. 21 – Preseason game at Seattle Seahawks, 9 p.m., Qwest Field
- Thursday, Aug. 26 – Preseason game vs. Indianapolis Colts, 7 p.m., Lambeau Field
- Tuesday, Aug. 31 – Final practice open to public, 10:15 a.m., Nitschke Field; NFL-mandated roster reduction, to 75 players, by 3 p.m.
- Thursday, Sept. 2 – Preseason game at Kansas City Chiefs, 7 p.m., Arrowhead Stadium
- Saturday, Sept. 4 – NFL-mandated roster reduction, to 53 players, by 5 p.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 5 – Clubs may establish eight-player practice squad, 11 a.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 12 – Regular-season opener at Philadelphia Eagles, 3:15 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field
As per team tradition, the Packers select game captains each week.
Tonight’s captains will be QB Aaron Rodgers (offense), CB Charles Woodson (defense) and K Mason Crosby (special teams).
WEARING THE STRIPES
Tonight’s officiating crew includes referee Ron Winter (14), umpire Tony Michalek (115), head linesman Julian Mapp (52), line judge Tom Stephan (68), field judge Jim Howey (37), side judge Tom Hill (97) and back judge Richard Reels (83).
On Friday, the Browns signed OL John Malecki and waived TE Joel Gamble (No. 87). Malecki, a 6-foot-2, 304-pound rookie from the University of Pittsburgh, will wear No. 60.