This is not an easy time of year, not with the roster needing to be reduced to 75 by Tuesday and 53 by Aug. 31.
"I started doing that on Sunday a little bit and it's nerve-wracking to me personally," Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week.
Last season, the Packers had 24 offensive players and 26 defensive players on their Week 1 roster. In our first roster prediction last week, we had 25 offensive players and 25 defensive players. In our second prediction, we have 23 offensive players and 27 defensive players.
Receivers: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin, Tyrone Walker, Jeremy Ross, Myles White, Alex Gillett, Charles Johnson, Kevin Dorsey, Omarius Hines, Justin Wilson.
Prediction (5): Nelson, Cobb, Jones, Boykin, Walker. What's changed?: Last week, we had Ross sticking as the returner and sixth receiver. At the time, coach Mike McCarthy said Ross needs "to get to that point where you're going to count on him every single down." He has not shown that. Now, after starting camp as the obvious kickoff and punt returner, the Packers auditioned practically anyone with a pulse this week. Ross remains in the mix but he needs to make something happen. Otherwise, Micah Hyde will field punts and a backup running back will handle kickoff returns.
Tight ends: Jermichael Finley, Matthew Mulligan, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick, Jake Stoneburner.
Prediction (4): Finley, Mulligan, Williams, Taylor. What's changed?: Nothing, but Bostick has put together a pretty good couple weeks while Williams has dropped too many passes for a player with his talent. Special teams and blocking, however, are the selling points for Williams. Don't rule out Quarless but his injury history is a big deal for a team that has been slammed by injuries in two of the past three seasons.
Offensive line: LT David Bakhtiari, LG Josh Sitton, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, RG T.J. Lang, RT Don Barclay, T Marshall Newhouse, C/G Greg Van Roten, G Lane Taylor, C/G Garth Gerhart, C/G Patrick Lewis, T Kevin Hughes, T Andrew Datko, T Bryan Bulaga, T Derek Sherrod, T/G J.C. Tretter.
Prediction (7): Bakhtiari, Sitton, Dietrich-Smith, Lang, Barclay, Newhouse, Van Roten. Sherrod to PUP; Bulaga, Tretter to IR. What's changed?: Taylor is out, with the Packers gambling for the second consecutive season with just seven linemen. Newhouse is a perfect swing tackle and Van Roten would handle the interior roles. It's nothing against Taylor but more an acknowledgment of the depth on defense. It's worth noting, however, that Taylor is a No. 1 on the kickoff return.
Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman, Vince Young.
Prediction (3): Rodgers, Harrell, Young. What's changed?: Nothing. At this point, there's no reason to believe that Harrell won't be the No. 2. Friday's game will be huge for Young, who is being given every chance to win a roster spot. His mechanics are horrible, especially when you've watched Rodgers every day for the last six years. Still, it's hard to knock one crucial thing: He won a national title at Texas and is 31-19 in the NFL with 13 game-winning drives.
Running backs: DuJuan Harris, Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green, Angelo Pease; FB John Kuhn, FB Jonathan Amosa.
Prediction (4): Harris, Lacy, Franklin, Kuhn. What's changed?: Plenty, with Starks out and Kuhn in. Starks found himself in the doghouse after last week's fumble against the Rams. His injury history needs no explanation. Green had big-time production at Hawaii but hasn't shown much in the way of running instincts. He was in the kickoff-return rotation at Wednesday's practice. Meanwhile, there's this from running backs coach Alex Van Pelt: "You never go in without a fullback." That would be Kuhn, who is far and away the best pass protector among the backs.
Defensive line: DE/NT B.J. Raji, NT/DE Ryan Pickett, DE C.J. Wilson, DE Datone Jones, DE Mike Daniels, DE/OLB Mike Neal, DE Johnny Jolly, DE/NT Josh Boyd, NT Jordan Miller, NT Gilbert Pena, DE Jerel Worthy.
Prediction (7): Raji, Pickett, Wilson, Jones, Daniels, Neal, Jolly. Worthy to PUP or IR. What's changed?: Nothing. Seven defensive linemen is probably overboard for a defense that only has two on the field most of the time, but it's hard to imagine Jolly not sticking at this point. This is the best position group on the team. Need to play the run? There's Raji, Pickett, Wilson and Jolly. Need to rush the passer? There's Jones, Daniels and Neal. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac raved about Boyd on Wednesday, saying, "Josh Boyd's going to be a good football player." He's also spoken highly of Miller, who is the No. 2 nose tackle. The numbers, however, are working against them.
Outside linebackers: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Andy Mulumba, Dezman Moses, Nate Palmer, Jarvis Reed, Donte Savage.
Prediction (4): Matthews, Perry, Mulumba, Moses. What's changed?: Nothing. Moses hasn't been great but it'd be a huge gamble going with just three (plus a part-time Neal). Mulumba has been one of the stories of training camp. He had meager production at Eastern Michigan but two scouts told Packer Report last week that Mulumba wore a bull's-eye from opposing teams. He's incredibly strong and has been a tough customer against the run.
Inside linebackers: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Terrell Manning, Sam Barrington.
Prediction (6): Hawk, Jones, Francois, Lattimore, Manning, Barrington. What's changed?: With Barrington, all six players on the depth chart are on the roster. Lattimore and Francois are on all four special-teams units, and Manning and Barrington are on two apiece. "He plays hard, he has a little bit more speed than I anticipated, and he's really working to get all his technique down, his pads low," position coach Winston Moss said of Barrington, a seventh-round pick. "We want him striking guys, and want him to take his fundamentals and apply them instinctively and he's steady doing that on a daily basis. I'm pleased every single day he goes out. He's very serious, he doesn't want to take a step back, and he always wants to move forward." It will be interesting to see if defensive coordinator Dom Capers can find a role for Lattimore.
Cornerbacks: Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Sam Shields, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, James Nixon, Loyce Means, Brandon Smith.
Prediction (6): Williams, Hayward, Shields, Hyde, House, Bush. What's changed?: After a miserable game against Arizona, House bounced back with no completions allowed on three targets against St. Louis and a strong week at practice. House and Shields are atop the depth chart, according to position coach Joe Whitt. Bush, who started at corner in Week 1 last year, is completely out of the equation on defense but remains a No. 1 on special teams.
Safeties: Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chaz Powell, Chris Banjo, David Fulton, Sean Richardson.
Prediction (4): Burnett, Jennings, McMillian, TBA. What's changed?: Nothing, though it's worth noting that Powell lined up as a jammer with the No. 1 punt unit on Wednesday.
Specialists: K Mason Crosby, K Giorgio Tavecchio, P Tim Masthay, LS Brett Goode.
Prediction (3): TBA at kicker, Masthay, Goode. What's changed?: Nothing, with Crosby's miserable Wednesday throwing a bucket of ice water on his hot streak. A survey of several agents who represent available kickers say the "920" area code has not shown up on their caller IDs, so it appears the Packers will be scouring the waiver wire on Aug. 31.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.