Packer Report Roster Prediction

Tough decisions are ahead due to the impact of injuries, depth at some positions and a lack of depth elsewhere.

The Green Bay Packers must reduce their roster to 75 players by Tuesday and 53 players by Saturday. In taking our latest swing at the final 53, we were stuck at 55. The most intriguing positions are at quarterback, outside linebacker, receiver and defensive line.

Quarterbacks

Who makes it (3): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien. It’s a tough call, given the depth elsewhere. Tolzien has outplayed Matt Flynn in the preseason games and has the better arm. Flynn has the track record. Could the Packers keep just Rodgers and Tolzien, and gamble that nobody would pick up Flynn and he’d be available should emergency strike?

Running backs

Who makes it (4): Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris; FB John Kuhn. No brainer here. Lacy is having a dominant preseason. Harris has been great, if you can somehow overlook a fumble and two false starts.

Receivers

Who makes it (5): Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis. Really, neither Jeff Janis nor Kevin Dorsey have earned a spot. Janis has made some splash plays but not enough routine plays, and Rodgers didn’t exactly give him a seal of approval last week. Dorsey remains highly regarded on special teams, working with the first unit on kickoff return and punt return. The Packers might be forced to keep Janis for fear they can’t get him on the practice squad. On the other hand, it’s hard to see anyone claiming Dorsey, who spent last season on injured reserve.

Tight ends

Who makes it (4): Richard Rodgers, Brandon Bostick, Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor. If Bostick were healthy, Quarless might be on thin ice, though being a veteran has to count for something considering the inexperience of Rodgers and Bostick. “With Aaron (Rodgers) being a key leader on offense, I think that kind of lends itself to certain dynamics in other rooms where you may not need to have a guy that’s had a number of years invested in a team in order to be successful or to make the room successful,” tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said. “But it’s always a benefit to have a guy with experience. Drew is certainly that guy for us as far as his playing experience. He can help young guys, guys that are new and coming in are looking to him to see how things are done and see what the protocol is. In terms of that, it’s a very important role for Andrew as well as for the room.” Taylor, who wasn’t a No. 1 on some of the special teams earlier in training camp, was with the first team on all four units on Sunday.

Offensive line

Who makes it (8): David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, T.J. Lang, Bryan Bulaga, J.C. Tretter, Lane Taylor, Derek Sherrod. Tretter might miss the first half-dozen games with an injured knee. If they keep him on the roster, will they have to add a ninth lineman? Or do they put him on the short-term injured reserve list, which would sideline him for eight games?

Defensive line

Who makes it (5): Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd, Datone Jones, Khyri Thornton, Mike Pennel. B.J. Raji’s injury probably ensures Pennel’s spot on the roster. Can the Packers get by with only five, considering how little base defense they play and the versatility of a couple of the outside linebackers? Does injured Letroy Guion stick around for a badly needed veteran presence or wind up on the PUP list? “I don’t know about tough to replace him,” he said when asked about Raji. “I’m a good player myself. I know how to play defense, I know how to play D-line really good, so I’m going to get back out there and do my job.”

Outside linebackers

Who makes it (7): Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, Nick Perry, Nate Palmer, Carl Bradford, Jayrone Elliott. Every year, it seems like the Packers keep an odd number at one position. Maybe it’s outside linebacker this year. The top four are locked in place. Palmer is a No. 1 on the punt and punt return teams. Bradford has disappointed as a fourth-round pick but his college pedigree makes it unlikely he’d make it to the practice squad. A possible move to inside linebacker provides a decent Plan B. Elliott has gotten better as camp as progressed. The team might be able to sneak him onto the practice squad. The odd man out might be Andy Mulumba, though his toughness against the run is a nice asset. He was only on the kickoff unit on Sunday. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he makes it over Elliott, Bradford or Palmer.

Inside linebackers

Who makes it (4): A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington. This group is set in stone.

Cornerbacks

Who makes it (5): Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jarrett Bush. The Packers are high on Jumal Rolle but he’s got practice squad eligibility and hasn’t progressed quickly enough to merit a spot on the 53. Sixth-round pick Demetri Goodson is all upside but isn’t ready for prime time, either, so is destined for the practice squad.

Safeties

Who makes it (5): Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo. Banjo is a No. 1 with the punt return, kickoff return and kickoff units so makes it as the fifth safety.

Specialists

Who makes it (3): K Mason Crosby, P Tim Masthay, LS Brett Goode. All three have gone unchallenged through training camp.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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