If you didn't already hear by now, the Associated Press reports the Oakland Raiders (with GM and former Packer Reggie McKenzie) signed Brandian Ross off of the Packers' practice squad Wednesday (h/t FOX News). The Raiders seem to need even more defensive back help, even after signing former Packers Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood this offseason.
Ross was a solid corner that was probably most remembered for the interception he tallied against Rodgers in the Family Night Scrimmage in 2011. Ross was even on the active 53-man roster for the Packers earlier this year before Walden came back from suspension and was put back on the practice squad. By that exchange you would assume he was the 54th-best player on the team.
When the opening showed up early Wednesday, most Packers fans thought Tori Gurley would be making his way back to Green Bay. The former Packer WR turned down a Vikings roster spot last year to stay on the practice squad and try to make a run for the roster in 2012.
Unfortunately for him, undrafted free agent Jarrett Boykin beat him and Diondre Borel out for the sixth wide receiver spot on the team. Borel was signed to the Packers squad and Gurley went to Minnesota to be on the active 53-man roster. For whatever reason it may be, Gurley was cut this week and is no longer on the team.
In a very Thompson-like move, the Packers signed someone no one expected (per the team's official website): a big, fast, undrafted rookie from a small school by the name of James Nixon.
Nixon is a 6'0", 178-pound cornerback from California University of Pennsylvania, but started his career at another school in the state, Temple. Coming out of high school, he had five BCS schools looking at him, but didn't seem to have the grades (only a 2.4), so he spent two years at a college prep academy where he switched to running back and signed to Temple.
Spending a couple of years at Temple at a hybrid RB/WR position, he finally switched back to DB and earned a spot on the Paul Horning Award Watch List before 2010. His senior year he transferred to California (P.A.) and tried to keep his cornerback position but only started two games there while the coaching staff moved him all around on defense, offense and special teams.
His ability to play multiple positions partially has to do with his amazing speed. At his pro days this offseason, he ran a 4.31 at both the Central Connecticut State and California (P.A.) sites.
A diamond in the rough, it should be fun to see if James Nixon can move up to the active 53 during his career.