The third preseason game is that magical part of the preseason where we an all pretend to know what's going to happen with the team for the coming year. It's the dress rehearsal for many teams around the league. This means starters play through the first half, and sometimes into the second. It means that you get watchable football (theoretically) for an hour or two instead of half hour to hour. And if we are fortunate enough to have both teams prepare for this week as the dress rehearsal, it means we can actually get a good sense of what shape this team is in right now.
With this in mind let's take a look at a few starters that we Packer fans should keep an eye on in Thursday night's game:
1. Cedric Benson. A few things have come together to make this the easiest choice for who to watch. One, Benson is a rare controversial veteran signing for Ted Thompson, and this is his first time on the field as a Packer. Two, he is starting his Packer career at the home of his previous employer and many Bengal fans aren't too fond of him. Three, perhaps most importantly, he may be an upgrade over James Starks, Brandon Saine, and Alex Green, and this week is his first (and perhaps best) chance to prove he should be the starter week one.
2. Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has looked good so far this preseason, but not otherworldly. He's missed a pass or two that last year would normally be completed. Nothing is too concerning now, but seeing the super sharp Rodgers of 2011 would be a welcome sight in the dress rehearsal for the Packers upcoming year.
3. Casey Hayward / Jarrett Bush. One of these guys has to prove he is worthy of the starting CB job if Davon House can't go on week one. This week they will face second year man Andy Dalton and an offense that isn't afraid to sling it and so an opportunity to prove they can be the guy should present itself.
4. M.D. Jennings. Last week Jerron McMillian had a good game. Sean Richardson has been turning heads so far in camp and may win a roster spot. Jennings has done nothing. This has to change, and Jennings should start proving he belongs this week with a strong game. If not he may find himself in a fight for the starting job at the end of camp or as the year goes on.
5. Jermichael Finley. Finley has talked big talk so far in his career, but hasn't totally backed it up with his play. He's been good, but not great. This week is the perfect time for him to show the looser, more comfortable, and playmaking Jermichael Finley he's been promising.
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