Time to stop talkin' and start chalkin'. Pool hall vernacular as the 2014 NFL season kicks off Thursday night with the Packers serving as the guests to the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
The Pack's practice week took place over the Labor Day Holiday, the game plan was installed Sunday and the team padded up today. The first injury report of the season was issued and the Packers have four names on the initial report. Linebacker Brad Jones (quad injury) was limited at practice, Brandon Bostick (lower leg), did not practice, nor did Demetri Goodson (concussion). Mike McCarthy said if Bostick and Goodson don't work during Wednesday's final practice, they won't be available. Jones, he said, is on track to play. J.C. Tretter (knee) has already been ruled out.
The Pack also made a chance on their practice squad already. They brought back defensive back Jumal Rolle, who I thought performed better than the draft pick Goodson during training camp, releasing receiver Alex Gillett.
The NFL Kickoff lid lifter should be as good as advertised with the defending champs against the Super Bowl winner of four seasons ago. A lot will be made of the Pack's last trip to CenturyLink, the infamous replacement referee, simultaneous catch debacle. M.D. Jennings had a game saving interception overturned on replay as a Golden Tate "Hail Mary" catch after one replacement ref called it a touchback and another called it a touchdown. The "Fail Mary" as Cheesehead nation calls it, awarded the Seahawks a 14-12 victory, and the Packers one of the most bitter defeats on record. The media asked a lot of the players about that play and A.J. Hawk said it best, the locker room was chaos afterward with players asked to put their gear on again and defend the moot point extra point, but it seems like ancient history. And it is. These teams are both noticeably different today, but keep track of how many times you see that play between now and the kickoff.
The teams do have something in common however, Vince Lombardi Trophy winning quarterbacks. I had a chance to listen to both this week in advance of the matchup. We'll start with Aaron Rodgers, who starts his 10th NFL season, his 7th as a starting quarterback:
Audio: Aaron Rodgers.
And from Seattle, via a conference call, we visited with Russell Wilson, a third round draft pick who won it all in his third season, not too shabby. Like most winning teams however, free agency took a few key players away, like Tate and defensive back Brandon Browner. But Wilson said while there have been subtractions to the roster, there have been a few important additions and he sought advice on what it's like to become a champion celebrity and how hard it will be to come up with an encore:
Audio: Russell Wilson.
The Packers know what the Kickoff game is all about. They hosted the New Orleans Saints to open the 2011 season as defending champs. The NFL takes over the entire operation, with an over the top launch to the campaign. A huge fan zone outside CenturyLink, concerts and more. If the home side isn't careful, they can get caught up in the hoopla. The Packers found themselves in a shootout to a final goal line stand to beat the Saints that Thursday night. We'll see if the Pack can catch the Seahawks with their guard down just enough to put a huge gust of wind in their sails as the 2014 voyage begins.