The Packers don't need to win their fourth and final preseason game Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs for it to be considered a success. The top priority, of course, is to avoid major injuries to key players. They'll also want to see positive play from their backups, especially the No. 2 offense. And coaches and front office men will be evaluating and assessing young and unproven players to see who deserves the final few unclaimed roster spots. Those are all general aims, though.
Here are three specific, quantifiable goals that, if achieved, would help mark Thursday's game a success.
1. Zero snaps for Rodgers: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn't need to play even one second of this game. There's no point. The reigning league MVP has nothing to prove and everything to lose against the Chiefs.
It's worth remembering: Last year, it was the Chiefs that ended the Packers pursuit of a perfect season in Week 15, and, though he wasn't sacked, Rodgers was hit six times by Chiefs pass-rushers. Considering how unsettled their backup quarterback situation is, the Packers have no reason to jeopardize Rodgers' health. By the same token, that uncertainty behind Rodgers means there's every reason to give No. 2 QB Graham Harrell as extensive an opportunity as possible to properly judge if he's capable of doing the job or if Green Bay needs to go acquire a veteran.
2. Sixty-percent passing for Harrell: These are Harrell's numbers through three preseason games: 32-of-63 (50.8-percent) for 261 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, for a passer rating of 53.7. Granted, Harrell's been victimized by poor offensive line play and wide-receiver drops. But that completion percentage absolutely needs to be in the 60s Thursday night.
Coach Mike McCarthy intimated that Harrell will not get to play with the starting offensive line, which won't help. Still, he needs to show a modicum of poise, accuracy and arm strength and complete more than half his passes. A successful game for Harrell would have him connect on 60 to 70 percent of his attempts and lead the offense on two touchdown drives. The two interceptions he's tallied in the preseason weren't really his fault, but any more turnovers would only get the Harrell-haters even more riled up.
Still, there are plenty of reserves and on-the-bubble players who could solidify roster spots by making an impact play or two on defense. Can veteran defensive linemen like Daniel Muir or Phillip Merling get interior penetration? Can rapacious outside linebackers like Erik Walden and undrafted rookie Dezman Moses get around the edge and disrupt the Chiefs' backfield?
Will we see effective blitzes from defensive backs like Jarrett Bush and Jerron McMillian seeking to show they, too, can rush the quarterback? The Packers got two sacks on seven quarterback hits last week; a slight improvement on those numbers by the backups would show the aggressiveness and physicality that coaches want to see.