Packers coach Matt LaFleur still unsure on playing starters during preseason finale

Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur sounds stuck between wanting to play his starters to ward off the possibility of repeating last year’s Week 1 disaster and understanding the risk-reward analysis of exposing key players to injury in a game that doesn’t mean anything in the win-loss column.

LaFleur said Sunday that he’s still trying to determine if his starters – including quarterback Aaron Rodgers – will play in the preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. He does expect every player to suit up and go through a pre-game warm-up routine, however.

Whether or not to play important members of the roster is the philosophical hurdle for the Packers. LaFleur said he’ll continue speaking with the veteran’s players council to figure out a final plan.

“I see benefits on both sides, but I also see some things that you’d be kicking yourself if something went wrong in a game that doesn’t count on your record,” LaFleur said. “There are benefits to going through the mental preparation of getting yourself ready for a game. Just working out the kinks of your pregame or whatever it might be. Also, just going out there and playing and having the confidence. I want to go through the next couple of days, see where we’re at, and make a decision.”

LaFleur said he’ll have it decided well before Thursday night’s game.

Rodgers hasn’t played in a preseason game since LaFleur was hired in 2019 and he’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to just play a quick series or two.

But it’s clear LaFleur is still thinking about last year’s 38-3 whooping from the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 and how he can avoid another season-opening meltdown. Then again, it’s unclear if key players not playing in the preseason had any impact on last year’s Week 1 performance.

LaFleur also mentioned how important it is to keep everyone healthy over a long season.

“There will be discussions with some of our veterans in terms of their mindset and if they need this to go out there and play well Week 1,” LaFleur said.

Even if LaFleur might want to play some of his veterans, he knows he probably shouldn’t risk it.

“To me, a lot of it comes down to a gut feeling on what you want to get out, and what you want to see and where you’re at as a football team,” LaFleur said.

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