Thursday marks the debut of the Green Bay Packers' newest faces including rookies and free-agent acquisitions, as well as a potent offense that returns all but two of its starters from 2011. Under the direction of Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the offensive play-caller, the Packers set franchise records for points (560), touchdowns (70), total net yards (6,482), net passing yards (4,924), passing TDs (51) and fewest giveaways (14). McCarthy has led the Packers to a top-10 ranking in total offense in each of his six seasons at the helm, joining New Orleans as the only team to accomplish that feat from 2006-11.
Thursday's contest also features a defense in its fourth year under defensive coordinator Dom Capers. In 2011, Green Bay led the league in interceptions (31) for the second time in three seasons (also 2009). That interception total was the best registered by the Packers since 1962 (also 31). The Packers tied for the league lead in 2011 with San Francisco for the most total takeaways with 38.
As has been the case under McCarthy in previous pre-seasons, starters aren't expected to play more than a few series. Maintaining the health of the team will be the ultimate determining factor, as will the need to see a number of young players in live game action for the first time. Teams must make the first roster reduction, to 75 players, on Aug. 27.