Making the Call for Green Bay Packers' Toughest Remaining Roster Cuts
After Monday's mandatory roster cutdown, the Green Bay Packers' roster currently stands at 75 players with 18 more cuts to come on Friday.
To get down to 53 players, there's going to be some difficult choices for the Packers' coaching staff and front office.
Making the task even more difficult is how injured reserve, the PUP list and suspensions factor into roster decisions. Inside, we take a look at the toughest remaining cuts yet to be made...
ON THE ROSTER
Obviously, there's no question that Aaron Rodgers' job is secure, but there are questions about both of the other two quarterbacks on the roster.
Time is running out for the Packers to make a decision on their backup quarterback situation, specifically whether to keep Graham Harrell after an uninspiring preseason so far. The Packers can go one of two directions: 1) keep Harrell as the backup quarterback or 2) acquire a veteran backup via trade, waivers or free agency.
Another decision looms regarding seventh-round draft choice B.J. Coleman. One option is to keep Coleman on the 53-man roster. The risk is that the Packers will be wasting a roster spot on a player who will rarely, if ever, play.
On the other hand, the Packers can choose to cut Coleman and ask him to join the practice squad, much like they've done with Harrell each of the previous two seasons. The risk here is that Coleman can be claimed off waivers by any other team in the NFL if the Packers cut him.
The prediction is that the Packers will keep Harrell and cut Coleman.
Even though Harrell hasn't looked very good in preseason action, he's well versed in the Packers offense and would probably play much better if he were surrounded by starters instead of second-stringers.
As for Coleman, it's not uncommon for third-string quarterbacks to remain on the practice squad. He knows he's in a good place to learn in Green Bay, and he also knows he's only an injury away from being promoted.
ON THE ROSTER
Cedric Benson, James Starks, Alex Green, Brandon Saine, John Kuhn
Marc Tyler, Nic Cooper
The signing of Cedric Benson in free agency has thrown a monkey wrench into the running back position in Green Bay. For one, the starter's job is now up for grabs, although that really doesn't have anything to do with the cuts the Packers will make on Friday.
There's some uncertainty whether the Packers will choose to keep either three or four halfbacks this season.
Cedric Benson, Alex Green and John Kuhn are all locks to make the roster. As for James Starks and Brandon Saine, their status is more up in the air.
Starks burst onto the scene during the Packers' run to the Super Bowl in 2010 and was Green Bay's feature back for much of last season when he was healthy. The problem is, Starks has found it difficult to remain healthy.
He's currently sidelined by a turf toe injury, and there's a chance the Packers will choose to part ways with Starks rather than try to rely on a player who's missed more games than he's played in the past three seasons, dating back to college.
Saine was actually having a nice training camp before a hamstring injury limited his participation and put his roster status in question. With arguably the most speed at the position, Saine looks like he could be a threat as a receiver and on special teams, but he's on the roster bubble.
The prediction is that the Packers keep four halfbacks and fullback John Kuhn with their only cuts being undrafted rookies Marc Tyler and Nic Cooper.
ON THE ROSTER
Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb, James Jones
Tori Gurley, Diondre Borel, Jarrett Boykin, Dale Moss, Curenski Gilleylen
Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are all assured of roster spots without question.
Some have speculated that the Packers would and should cut Donald Driver because of his advancing age such that by keeping him, the Packers aren't stunting the growth of younger wide receivers who can contribute for the next several seasons.
However, Driver and the Packers agreed on a restructured contract that guarantees Driver will be paid $1.2 million in 2012, so if the Packers would cut Driver, they'd be throwing away more than a million dollars.
Others have speculated that the Packers could trade James Jones, and while that's a possibility, there was hardly a team in the NFL that expressed interest in Jones in free agency last season, so his market appears cool.
During the offseason there was talk that the Packers could keep six, maybe even seven wide receivers on their roster with Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel. However, neither of them have done all that much to impress during the offseason and both of them could be released.
Rookies Jarrett Boykin, Dale Moss and Curenski Gilleylen all look like they have potential, but they're more likely practice-squad candidates than players on the 53-man roster.
ON THE ROSTER
Jermichael Finley, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor
Jermichael Finley and D.J. Williams are all but locks to make the roster. Even though they're different in size, they're the two most talented pass receivers at the position.
Finley is the taller of the two and is used to creating mismatches in the passing game, while Williams is the shorter, quicker of the two that is more likely to line up in the backfield.
There's a slim chance that either Tom Crabtree or Ryan Taylor is cut, but both stand a good chance of making the team.
Working against them is the fact that both suffered injuries at the worst possible time, toward the end of training camp. Crabtree is fighting through a shoulder injury, and Taylor is working through a chest injury.
Crabtree has played a large role on offense for the past two seasons, and both he and Taylor have been special-teams regulars during their time in Green Bay.
Brandon Bostick will help the injury-depleted tight ends get through Thursday's preseason finale, but he's guaranteed to be cut the following day.
ON THE ROSTER
Marshall Newhouse, T.J. Lang, Jeff Saturday, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Reggie Wells, Waiver Wire Pickup
Derek Sherrod*, Andrew Datko*, Don Barclay, Tommie Draheim, Sampson Genus, Shea Allard, Greg Van Roten
The starting offensive line, barring injury, is set. From left to right, the lineup for Week 1 will be Marshall Newhouse, T.J. Lang, Jeff Saturday, Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga.
As the backup center, Evan Dietrich-Smith's role on the team is also secure. He'll back up all of the interior offensive line positions.
Newly signed veteran Reggie Wells will more than likely open the season as the Packers' backup swing tackle, at least until Derek Sherrod gets healthy.
There's a chance Sherrod will begin the season on the 53-man roster, but the more likely scenario is that he starts the year on the PUP list, which will force him to miss at least the first six weeks of the season.
Andrew Datko recently suffered a concussion, and he may be one of the Packers' most difficult decisions. He's on the bubble to begin with, but he may have to be placed on injured reserve if the concussion is severe enough.
One prediction is that Sherrod starts the season on the PUP list and won't count against the 53-man roster. Another prediction is that the Packers place Datko on injured reserve and claim an offensive lineman off waivers from another team.
Don Barclay, Tommie Draheim and Greg Van Roten are all good candidates for the practice squad.
ON THE ROSTER
B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, C.J. Wilson, Daniel Muir, Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels
Mike Neal*, Phillip Merling, Lawrence Guy
The starters in the base defense will be B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson.
Rookies Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels are guaranteed roster spots because the Packers won't be ready to give up on any first-year players yet. Both will likely be rotational players who will play in the Packers' defensive subpackages.
After a very good training camp, Daniel Muir has more than likely earned himself a spot on the 53-man roster. His spot may be in jeopardy once Mike Neal comes off suspension, but even that's not guaranteed.
Speaking of Neal, he'll be suspended the first four games of the regular season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. During that time, he won't count against the 53-man roster, so don't expect to see him until October.
After a slow start to training camp, Phillip Merling made a nice effort to make the Packers' roster, but the prediction is that he ultimately comes up short. If the Packers happen to suffer an injury along the defensive line in Thursday's preseason finale, Merling would be a good fill-in.
Lawrence Guy still has practice-squad eligibility.
ON THE ROSTER
Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Dezman Moses, Brad Jones, Erik Walden
Clay Matthews and Nick Perry don't have to worry about making the team. All they have to worry about is wreaking havoc.
Even though he's only an undrafted rookie, Dezman Moses has all but assured himself of a roster spot with an impressive training camp to follow up an already impressive offseason. He'll play a role for the Packers in 2012, even if it's mainly on special teams.
The wild card comes with Erik Walden who's suspended for the first game of the regular season. The Packers can either cut down to 52 players for Week 1, or they can play with 53 players.
If they choose option B, they must cut a player after just one week to make room for Walden. And considering the way he's played this preseason, Walden is pretty much assured of a roster spot.
Brad Jones is squarely on the roster bubble. There might only be one spot between both him and Jamari Lattimore who can both play inside and outside linebacker, but the injury situation at inside linebacker only helps Jones' chances.
Vic So'oto is probably on the outside looking in, but he does have practice-squad eligibility remaining.
ON THE ROSTER
A.J. Hawk, D.J. Smith, Rob Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Terrell Manning
Now that Desmond Bishop has been placed on injured reserve and is out for the season, A.J. Hawk and D.J. Smith will form the starting inside linebacker duo despite concerns about Hawk's ability.
Both Rob Francois and Jamari Lattimore have had good training camps and have probably set themselves up to win roster spots, but recent injuries to both have put their status in question.
Francois injured his hamstring in the third preseason game while Lattimore hurt his ankle during practice this week. Both will likely still make the roster, but they might be limited until they get healthy.
The recent injury spate is actually beneficial to Terrell Manning's roster life. Manning has done little to justify keeping him during training camp, but the lack of current depth at inside linebacker may require the Packers to keep him.
ON THE ROSTER
Tramon Williams, Davon House, Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush, Casey Hayward
Otis Merrill, Brandian Ross
Tramon Williams is the one cornerback who's assured of a spot in the starting lineup, but he's not the only one assured of a roster spot.
It appears as if Davon House has escaped the possibility of surgery on his injured shoulder, but he'll have to play the entire season with a harness, which may limit his aggressiveness and effectiveness.
Because of House's limitations, Jarrett Bush may be called upon to play a role very much like he did last year in the playoffs, when he basically played on early downs and Sam Shields played on late downs. Bush's willingness to sacrifice his body makes him effective against the run, if not the pass.
Speaking of Shields, he may be demoted compared to the large role he played last season, but it's too early to give up on him yet. If he can get over a recent elbow injury, he stands a better chance of contributing in 2012.
As a second-round draft choice, Casey Hayward's roster spot is safe, but his role on defense is not yet defined.
Otis Merrill and Brandian Ross appear to be long-shots to make the 53-man roster, but either could find himself on the practice squad.
ON THE ROSTER
Charles Woodson, Morgan Burnett, Jerron McMillian, M.D. Jennings, Sean Richardson
When the Packers are in their base 3-4 defense, Morgan Burnett and Charles Woodson will be the starters at safety, and they won't have to stress about roster cuts.
Following an impressive training camp, rookie Jerron McMillian looks like the front-runner to become the Packers' nickel safety, although he hasn't won the job just yet. Even if he loses out on his bid for playing time at safety, however, he's still assured of a roster spot.
Considering he hasn't played all that well this preseason, M.D. Jennings' hold on a roster spot isn't as secure as it once used to be. His experience, however, gives him more an advantage over Anthony Levine and Sean Richardson.
It's possible that Levine and Richardson could be fighting for one roster spot, although in his third season, Levine has done little to impress. Richardson, meanwhile, has a nice blend of size and speed perfect for special teams.
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