The Green Bay Packers' thoroughly impressive preseason campaign hit a snag this past week when the team learned of nose tackle B.J. Raji's season-ending right biceps tear and a knee injury that will sideline center JC Tretter for 5-6 weeks. Head coach Mike McCarthy will get his first look at his replacement options Thursday evening as the Packers host the Kansas City Chiefs.
Green Bay—2-1 on the preseason—will likely sit franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers, with most of its starters seeing only a few series at most, thus providing valuable playing time for the myriad youngsters fighting for jobs.
Covering for Raji will be a platoon, including second-year defensive lineman Josh Boyd, rookie nose tackle Mike Pennel, and the recently activated Letroy Guion. In Tretter's absence, the Packers will trot out rookie center Corey Linsley, a fifth-round pick out of Ohio State.
After Linsley, perhaps the brightest spotlight will shine on Jayrone Elliott, an undrafted rookie pass-rusher in the midst of an eye-opening preseason campaign. He's certainly impressed his head coach, who spoke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tyler Dunne and the rest of the assembled media on Tuesday:
I think Elliott’s a great example of a young man given an opportunity. Obviously, three sacks in six plays – that doesn’t happen every day. That just shows you his ability. I think he’s gradually improved throughout his time here. When he’s been given a chance, he’s stepped up. Obviously played a lot more this past week against Oakland and he’ll play more than he ever has against Kansas City --- both special teams and defense.
Elliott may have begun camp as a long shot to make the final 53, but his prodigious sack production in the first three preseason games has placed him squarely on the periphery of the final roster. He's one of many focal points of the Packers' preseason finale.
Here's everything you need to know about tomorrow's matchup.