With training camp 13 days away, we’re in the throes of the dog days of summer. The Packers have 82 players on their roster, not including the suspended Johnny Jolly. The limit is 80, but the four unsigned draft picks don’t count until they’re officially under contract, and restricted free agent safety Atari Bigby doesn’t count until he signs his tender.
Like we did last year, we’re ranking the players from No. 1 to No. 83. This list doesn’t necessarily list the players from best to worst, but we take into account the players’ importance on the roster and other factors such as contracts and potential.
Packer Report Ranking: 46
— Desmond Bishop: By now, it’s apparent that Bishop will never get a shot at playing more than a bit role on the Packers’ defense. A wrecking ball throughout the training camp and preseason the last two years, the coaches just don’t feel comfortable with his occasional mental lapses. There’s something to be said about always being where you’re supposed to be, and Bishop lacks the sheer athleticism to recover from those mistakes. He was one of the blitzers in the Packers’ gimmicky 1-5 “Psycho” package but didn’t do anything to warrant more playing time.
Packer Report Ranking: 47
— Donald Lee: In November 2007, Lee was rewarded with a contract extension that runs through the 2011 season. Seemed logical at the time, with Lee en route to a career season of 48 catches for 575 yards and six touchdowns. Since then, his production has tumbled. He’s coming off a season in which he caught 37 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown. Unofficially, he dropped six passes, including one in the end zone at the Metrodome. He’s on the hot seat but remains a valued leader of a young position group. After sharing snaps with Jermichael Finley for much of last season, Lee would have a lesser role on offense and a bigger role on special teams.
Packer Report Ranking: 48
— Brett Swain: Swain, a seventh-round pick in 2008, was one of the big surprises of training camp last year and beat out reliable veteran Ruvell Martin to be the fifth receiver. That decision paid major dividends on special teams in the season opener, when Swain stopped a fake punt against Chicago. In six games, he had no receptions. He’s coming off a torn ACL but says he’ll be ready for the start of camp.
Packer Report Ranking: 49
— Patrick Williams: If not Swain, then Williams is the favorite to be the fifth receiver. An undrafted rookie last year who spent part of the season on the practice squad, Williams didn’t play in a late-season promotion. Showed so-so hands last year. At 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, he’s got good size. Of course, special teams is the key for any reserve. Can he block for the returners or get off blocks to make tackles?
Packer Report Ranking: 50
— Brett Goode: Never heard of Goode? That’s good. In his two seasons as the Packers’ long snapper, he’s been impeccable. His snaps are fast and accurate. The importance of that taken-for-granted skill became apparent during offseason practices, when a couple other linemen took their shot at snapping. Snaps that are slow and off-target screw up the timing of everything.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.