3 storylines: Packers at Bears
Each Tuesday morning, Press-Gazette Media will look ahead with three storylines for the Green Bay Packers' next game. This week, the opponent is the Chicago Bears. Here's a glimpse of what to watch for when the Packers travel to Chicago for a noon kickoff Sunday.
1. He's baaaack: After a season on the West Coast and an offseason on the East Coast, former Packers receiver James Jones is back in Green Bay. The Packers signed Jones after he was cut by the New York Giants over the weekend. They hope he bolsters their receiver depth chart, which took a major hit in the wake of Jordy Nelson's season-ending ACL injury. Jones can't replace Nelson, but the Packers' third-round draft pick in 2007 has a good rapport with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
It's never easy to contribute in Week 1 after missing an entire offseason and training camp, but the expectations will be for Jones to play significant snaps Sunday in Chicago. Still, there are plenty of unknowns. Jones is 31, but he had respectable numbers (73 catches, 666 yards, six touchdowns) while playing with a rookie quarterback in Oakland last season. He should be more productive with Rodgers.
2. A (butt) kicking: Mike McCarthy dumped some coals on the Packers-Bears rivalry last week when he was caught promising to "kick Chicago's (butt)" at the team's annual Welcome Back Luncheon. McCarthy didn't back down when he was asked about the statement on Monday, and he has good reason to be confident.
The Packers have won nine of their past 10 games against the Bears, with the lone loss coming after Rodgers left in the first quarter with a broken collarbone in 2013. McCarthy's statement is the type of bulletin board material coaches hate to provide for an opponent. At the very least, it's another reminder to the Bears of who has owned this rivalry for the better part of two decades.
3. Next man up: The Packers will carry only five defensive linemen into their opener, which isn't unusual for a team that plays a base 3-4 defense with a lot of nickel and dime packages. But two of their top five defensive linemen will not be with them. Letroy Guion and Datone Jones start the season with suspensions. Jones will be back next week, but Guion will miss three games.
Their absences open opportunities for younger, less experienced defensive linemen, such as Mike Pennel and Bruce Gaston. It will be interesting to see how the Packers rotate their defensive line against the Bears, as well as how much they line up in their 3-4 base defense.
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