The Green Bay Packers have placed safety Atari Bigby, cornerback Al Harris and running back James Starks on the physically unable to perform list as they reached the league-mandated 75-player limit on Tuesday.
The Packers had to trim four players from their roster, and accomplished that by placing undrafted running backQuinn Porter on season-ending injured reserve.
This first wave of cuts was a cinch but the next one will be much more difficult. The roster must be reduced to 53 players by Saturday afternoon, making Thursday night’s preseason game at Kansas City a make-or-break performance for 22 players.
PUP was expected for Bigby, whose ankle surgery would have sidelined him for up to eight weeks. PUP was good news for Starks, who hasn’t taken a single rep in training camp due to an injured hamstring. The alternative, of course, was that he would be been released. PUP no doubt was a tough pill to swallow for Harris, who has poured himself into rehabbing his surgically repaired knee.
Players on PUP are not eligible to begin practicing for the first six weeks. After those six weeks, the team has a three-week window to activate the player, release the player or put the player on injured reserve.
Without Starks and Porter, the Packers have a decision to make as a third running back. They could go with Kregg Lumpkin, use fullback John Kuhn as a ball-carrier or shop the waiver wire.
Porter was the sensation of the first two weeks of training camp but sprained his ankle and then suffered a knee sprain in the Indianapolis game.
“When you (have) a young player who’s undrafted and is competing for a spot on the team, you feel badly because the kid can’t get out here and fight for a position at this point. It’s unfortunate for him,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said on Tuesday, before the roster moves were announced. “The things that flashed at us as an offensive staff were he had some quickness, some natural ability running the football and he was not afraid to stick his nose in there in blitz protection. If you’re going to play running back here, you’ve got to be able to pass block. He seemed willing to do that. That’s kind of what flashed to me: quick feet and willingness to stick his nose in there. Certainly, that hasn’t changed but when you’re not around, you kind of get forgotten.”
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