Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur has decided: His veteran starters, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, won’t play in the preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.
“No, we’re not going to play them,” LaFleur said.
LaFleur said “everybody who has been playing” will continue to play, meaning a few starters – including first-round pick Quay Walker and the first-team offensive line – will play in Kansas City. Jordan Love, who played well against the New Orleans Saints last week, will start his third straight preseason game.
Why the decision? LaFleur said “everything” went into the decision.
“Just the risk versus reward knowing it’s a long season, having 17 games and I think early on we get stressed with travel,” LaFleur said. “Just trying to factor in everything.”
The Packers sat every veteran starter during the first two preseason games.
LaFleur said he “doesn’t have a crystal ball” and won’t know if it’s the right decision until he sees what works. In 2020, the Packers didn’t play a preseason game but won Week 1 in Minnesota. Last year, the Packers rested starters during the preseason and then got blown out by the Saints in the opener.
LaFleur said the team learned lessons from last year’s season-opening issues and are better prepared to go into the season without preseason snaps from key players.
By not playing starters, LaFleur is – if nothing else – preventing an injury to a major contributor before the start of games that count in the standings.
LaFleur said that rookie receiver Christian Watson would play if he’s ready physically, which would mark his preseason debut.