Gameday: Packers vs Browns

All the news, notes and other relevant info Packers fans need for tonight's preseason match-up with the Cleveland Browns

GREEN BAY at CLEVELAND (Saturday, NFL Network)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. est Aug. 13
WHERE: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland
TV:  Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) & Rich Gannon (analyst).
RADIO: Wayne Larrivee (play-by-play) & Larry McCarren (analyst) for AM-620 and Packer Radio Network
INTERNET: Cheesehead TV Gameday Live Blog

The defending champions will visit the Cleveland Browns.  The Packers, who brought the first title back to Green Bay since the 1996 season, are focused on a repeat effort this year.

“It’s hard to win a Super Bowl, even harder to win two,” says Packers All-Star cornerback CHARLES WOODSON.  “So I think if you really want to be considered a great, great team, then you win two, you win back-to-back. We’re going to work hard to try to make sure that happens.”

Cleveland Browns head coach PAT SHURMUR will make his debut on Saturday night in front of the home crowd.  In 2010, Shurmur served as the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator and helped the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft, SAM BRADFORD, to Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

“The direction they're taking this organization is really exciting for me,” says Browns Pro Bowl tackle JOE THOMAS.  “The coaching staff MIKE HOLMGREN has put together, the scouting group, the general manager – I think they've done everything first class.”

Tonight’s captains will be Aaron Rodgers (offense), Nick Collins (defense) and Tim Masthay (special teams).

Tonight’s officiating crew includes referee Walt Coleman (65), umpire Roy Ellison (81), head linesman Ed Camp (134), line judge Mark Steinkerchner (84), field judge Greg Gautreaux (80), side judge Rick Patterson (15) and back judge Greg Yette (38).

From the Dope Sheet:

The Green Bay Packers’ 2011 season officially kicks off Saturday night when they travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns in a preseason contest at Cleveland Browns Stadium, the third straight year the teams have squared off against each other in the preseason opener.

- Green Bay lines up against another opponent for the first time since Feb. 6, when it captured its 13th world championship and fourth Super Bowl title with a 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

- Saturday marks the debut of rookie and free-agent acquisitions, as well as a potent offense that returns all but one of its starters from 2010. Under the direction of Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the offensive play-caller, the unit ranked No. 9 in total offense a season ago. McCarthy has led the offense to a top-10 ranking in total offense each of his five seasons at the helm, joining New Orleans as the only team to accomplish that from 2006-10. The Packers have also finished in the top 10 in scoring offense each of the past four seasons.

- Saturday’s contest also features a defense in its third year under defensive coordinator Dom Capers. The Packers posted their best scoring-defense mark since the Super Bowl champion team of 1996 (13.1 ppg) when they finished No. 2 in the league in the category by allowing just 15.0 points per game, highlighted by three games where their opponent did not get into the end zone. The defense also registered 47 sacks, good for No. 2 in the NFL and the most by a Green Bay unit since 2001 (52).

- As has been the case under McCarthy in previous preseasons, starters aren’t expected to play more than a few series. Maintaining the health of the football team will be the ultimate determining factor, as will the need to see a number of younger players in live game action for the first time. Teams must make the first roster cut, to 75 players, on Aug. 30.

- This will be the first time since 2007 that the Packers have opened the preseason away from Lambeau Field. The last time Green Bay played at Cleveland during the preseason was on Aug. 15, 2003. The Packers' last appearance at Cleveland Browns Stadium for a regular-season contest was on Oct. 25, 2009, when Green Bay came away with a 31-3 victory.

- Saturday marks the 23rd preseason meeting in the all-time series between Cleveland and Green Bay. The Browns registered a 27-24 victory over the Packers in the 2010 preseason opener at Lambeau Field and hold a 12-10-0 advantage in the all-time preseason series.

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