The Green Bay Packers got to the 53-man roster limit on Saturday by releasing 22 players, including quarterback Vince Young, running back Alex Green, tight end D.J. Williams and outside linebacker Dezman Moses.
Among the survivors of a stressful day on the roster bubble were quarterback B.J. Coleman, defensive linemen Johnny Jolly and Josh Boyd and undrafted rookie safety Chris Banjo. In potentially the hardest decision, the Packers went with rookie Sam Barrington over second-year pro Terrell Manning at inside linebacker.
Also out: fullback Jonathan Amosa, tackles Andrew Datko and Kevin Hughes, interior linemen Garth Gerhart and Patrick Lewis, wide receivers Charles Johnson, Tyrone Walker and Myles White, tight ends Matthew Mulligan and Jake Stoneburner, outside linebacker Donte Savage, defensive tackle Jordan Miller, cornerbacks Loyce Means, James Nixon and Brandon Smith, and safeties David Fulton and Chaz Powell.
Young faced a huge challenge by signing with the Packers more than a week into training camp and after the playbook had been installed. When he lined up as the starting quarterback against Kansas City on Thursday night, Young had been a member of the team for all of 23 days. Thus, his preseason struggles shouldn’t have been a surprise.
However, there’s no getting around the fact that Young was terrible against the Chiefs. Despite facing a defense daring him to throw the ball down the field, Young completed 14-of-30 passes for 144 yards. He fumbled twice, losing one of them, and was guilty of sloppy ball-security on at least two other occasions while dancing around pressure. His passes arrived too high or too low, or were thrown too late or too early.
In four preseason games, he completed 53.1 percent of his passes, averaged a paltry 4.4 yards per attempt. He had one touchdown pass — coming at St. Louis on a drive in which a linebacker dropped an interception — and the one turnover against the Chiefs.
Coleman was worse with 41.2 percent accuracy, 3.8 yards per attempt, one touchdown and one interception. Coleman went 2-of-7 in each of the last two games. However, he outperformed Young on the practice field over the last two weeks. With youth and arm on his side, the Packers sided with Coleman.
Young led the offense on 11 drives against the Chiefs, with just two field goals to show for his efforts. Other than the opening possession, which started at Kansas City’s 35-yard line after Tramon Williams’ interception, Young drove the Packers to the Chiefs’ side of the field just once. The offense gained 12 first downs but punted eight times.
“That’s something that you definitely have to take a hard look at with the videotape,” coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. “It was an eight-man front football game. We were not as sound as we would have liked. As far as getting the ball on the perimeter, extending plays, we didn’t do a very good job of that as an offense. With that, it obviously affects the quarterback’s play and the ability to overcome that was definitely a challenge for Vince tonight. We’ll take a hard look at it and it will be part of our decision-making process.”
It clearly did. Now, the question is what the Packers will do at No. 2 over the long haul. Will they keep Coleman, who had a strong final two weeks of practice but went 2-of-7 in each of the last two preseason games? Will they scour the waiver wire or trade from their depth on the defensive line? And regardless of what happens with Coleman, the Packers might be shopping for another young quarterback. One option for the practice squad would be former Wisconsin standout Scott Tolzien, who ran a version of the West Coast offense with San Francisco and might be able to provide some insight on the 49ers.
At tight end, the Packers are going with Jermichael Finley, Brandon Bostick, Andrew Quarless and Ryan Taylor. It ranked as a surprise that Williams, a better blocker and more well-rounded player, lost out to Bostick, a better receiver. It also was a mild surprise that Mulligan, who was signed because of his blocking prowess, lost out to Quarless, a talented and well-rounded player with an injury history.
At running, the Packers are going with Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin and John Kuhn. Former Jets kick return ace Joe McKnight worked out for the Packers on Saturday but was not signed.
At outside linebacker, Moses — who started four games, played about 450 snaps and tallied four sacks as an undrafted rookie in 2012 — lost out to sixth-round pick Nate Palmer and undrafted rookie Andy Mulumba as the depth behind Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and the multi-tasking Mike Neal. Moses was slowed by injuries throughout camp while the rookies showed some situational potential.
At defensive line, Jolly and Boyd join B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, C.J. Wilson, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones and a part-time Mike Neal in providing a ton of depth.
“Like thank Packers brass, coaches, packers nation 4 the support and opportunity. I won't let you down!!” Jolly said on Twitter.
On the offensive line, Greg Van Roten, Lane Taylor and Marshall Newhouse provide the depth behind the starting five.
According to sources, the Packers would like Johnson, White, Stoneburner, Amosa, Means and Nixon on the six-man practice squad. Datko potentially lands on the practice squad, too.
Veteran players considered to be on the bubble at some point in training camp who made the cut include Jolly, Kuhn, James Starks and Jarrett Bush.
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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.