Rodgers: If we struggle, it's not due to lack of meaningless preseason reps

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Packers finalized its 53-man active roster and 10-player practice squad this weekend. Now it’s on to the regular season and it starts against one of last season’s best defenses in the NFL.

Much has been made about Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers not seeing any snaps during the preseason.

Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur, General Manager Brian Gutekunst and Rodgers have all made it clear they believe the practice reps he’s taken has been more meaningful than playing in the preseason.

Rodgers reiterated that on Sunday.

“If we go out and we struggle, it has nothing to do with playing meaningless reps in the preseason. I really believe that. You’re not facing a ton of game-like situations in the preseason. If we go out and light it up, it’s not because we rested in the preseason. Our performance will be based on our preparation this week. Our experience. And the way we execute on the field and same for them,” Rodgers said.

The biggest difference between practice and the preseason reps are the speed of play. Game speed, especially in a new offense against a top tier defense could provide a challenge for the Packers offense, but Rodgers isn’t worried.

“You have to rely on your training. Your experience in situations. Most of their guys haven’t played in the preseason either. It’s going to be both teams trying to get accustomed to the speed of the offense and defense and who can adjust the quickest and make the least amount of mistakes,” Rodgers said. “We will both be ready to play and I expect the product to be good.”

The biggest player the Packers offensive line will have to worry about is edge rusher Khalil Mack. The first team All-Pro created havoc against the Packers last season in week one, granted it was against former Packers QB Deshone Kizer.

Mack had a forced fumble and interception that he returned for a touchdown.

“That is the challenge. We all know it. Everybody on this team knows it. We’ve got a tremendous challenge in front of us,” LaFleur said.

KING, GRAHAM RETURN TO PRACTICE

Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King returned to practice Sunday and plans to play Thursday night during the season opener against the Chicago Bears.

King suffered a hamstring injury during the Packers’ annual “Family Night Scrimmage” and missed the rest of training camp and all four preseason games.

The Packers’ second-round pick in 2017 has missed 17 games with injuries during his first two NFL seasons, including the final 10 games of last season with a hamstring injury.

On the Packers unofficial depth chart, King is listed alongside second-year cornerback Jaire Alexander as the team’s starting corners.

Tony Brown has been a starter in King’s absence.

Packers tight end Jimmy Graham also returned to practice on Sunday. Graham hasn’t practiced since injuring his finger during practice on Aug. 18 and was held out of the preseason.

PACKERS, BEARS TO OPEN NFL SEASON

The Green Bay Packers take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field to kick off 100th season of the NFL.

Thursday will mark game No. 199 in the NFL’s oldest rivalry. The Packers hold a 97-95-6 edge in the series, which includes two playoff games (1-1).

It marks the first time the Packers have opened the season against the
Bears in back-to-back seasons since playing them three years in a row
in openers from 1979-81

Six of the last seven games between the two teams at Soldier Field have been decided by single digits.

Including a 2010 playoff victory at Chicago, Green Bay has won 21 of the last 26 meetings between the rivals at Soldier Field.

Thursday's game will start at 7:20 p.m. on NBC.