As the classic line in the classic sports movie Bull Durham goes ---- this is the hardest thing a manager has to do, as he is about to release a player, here is the ---- hardest thing Mike McCarthy has to do, decide amongst the bubble players.
Some teams the depth is not that great, and little value will have to be jettisoned. This 2010 Packers roster could see the team Ted Thompson has so skillfully built be forced to release as many as 10 players that can get significant playing time elsewhere. Let me break down the numbers.
3 special teamers, Goode, Crosby and the Mastahay - Bryan survivor, which actually probably adds to my list with the one released.
On offense there are 16 locks.
Rodgers, Flynn at QB, Jennings, Driver, Nelson and Jones at WR, Grant and Jackson at RB, Nelson at TE, Clifton, Tauscher, Wells, Sitton and College starting on the O line plus Bulaga and Lang .... 16 spots.
On the offensive side of the ball let us say there remains 9 spots..... Graham can probably slide under the claiming notice and be shuffled to the practice squad. There still remains 15 guys for the 9 slots:
FB or RB will likely take 3 remaining spots from amongst Kuhn, Hall and the rapidly improving Quinn Johnson, and Kregg Lumpkin one very tough cut to be made.
There will be at least 3 TE or R from Lee, Quarless, Havner and Swain that make the squad and puts one more very tough cut to be made, and Chery has made a statement as a returner, so the number could be 2.
The Offensive line is where some critical and difficult decisions will have to be made. Spitz and Barbre have both put in plenty of starts and are value backups, but with Dietrich Smith, Giacomini, and Newhouse all tabbed as having more talent, and with rookie Campbell looking great there are certainly 2 and likely 3 very tough O line cuts. Campbell can likely slide through to the practice squad.
Now is the tough call for me..... predicting the mind of Thompson and McCarthy. My projections for those last 9 spots......
Lee is cut due to salary. They Waive Quarless to try to get him to the practice squad. Havner and Swain make due to special teams play, and Chery makes it as a returner. Losers Lee and Quarless, ouch!
Like with the bubble receivers I am completely horrified at having to let Kuhn or Hall go due to special teams, Johnson has really developed into that hole opener at the goal line, so .... very sorry Mr Lumpkin, as good as you have been, hope you can get to the practice squad.
That brings us to potentially some of the toughest cuts. On the offensive line my gut wants to go with the guy that has given his all Mark Spitz, but I cannot do it. Hopefully a trade for him. Newhouse might have the best odds of sliding through to the practice squad, but I do not think they take that chance. Dietrich Smith gets one spot, and I believe Newhouse the other, leaving the Packers trying to deal Spitz, Barbre and Giacomini. Only one of those 3 can make it ... and like Lee and Lumpkin, two of those 3 guys becomes very difficult cuts. They may find a way to have a magic Injury reserve like the Lee IR move last year, please fall down and be hurt Mr Newhouse, so we can groom you for a year!
Ted Thompson has done a fine job assembling talent. 4 incredibly tough cuts to make on O and the hope that a few more do not get picked up and they can be moved to the practice squad..... from the offense!
Defense is nearly as problematic.
4 Defensive linemen Pickett, Raji, Jenkins and Neal are locks.
7 LB Jones, Hawk, Barnett, Matthews, Chillar, Bishop and Poppinga are also locks
They did manage to protect seasonal depth by putting Bigby and Harris on PUP list which can see them back after 6 games. That list is flexible so after week 7 some other issues may be sorted.
7 DB are also locks Woodson, Collins, Burnett, Williams, Shields, Lee and Martin.
There is some more flexibility as relates to the defense, and Blackmon if healthy enough will certainly make it due to return ability. The number crunch down however not that much different than with the offense. Only 6 spots.
Defensive Line may be the most difficult to predict only in the fact the real quality may not be as deep. Has Harrel done enough.....probably. Talley, Toribo and Wynn have all only proven to be backups and practice teamers, while Wilson is a green draft pick. Going against the grain, I predict Harrell to hang onto the spot, and they waive all the other 4, hoping to resign 2 of the 4 to the practice squad. Average depth talent, but not the gaping hole that was anticipated with the departure of Mr Jolly. Mr Harrell thanks you for his final chance.
In my scenario that leaves 5 spots for LB and DBs from this short list of 6..... Oziobor and Zombo the LB, Underwood, Peprah, Bush and Bell at DB. As much as it pains me to say this, Bush is not the worst player on the list and sneaks in....while Bell gets cut. The only thing that could affect the survival in the defensive backfield and see us bid adeiu to Mr Bush is if the management choose to save one more player on Offense and cut our favorite whipping boy.
To me it makes a lot more sense to save one more of the young offensive linemen with the ages of Tauscher and Clifton. But I am not McCarthy and Thompson, and for once I am glad this is not my job today.