Earlier today, the Packers, like every other NFL team, made the mandatory final roster cuts in order to decrease the roster size to 53 men as required by the league. The Packers cut 20 players to meet this requirement, in addition to placing two others on injured reserve.
The players cut were: QB Graham Harrell; RB Kregg Lumpkin; WR's Jason Chery, Patrick Williams, Chastin West, and Charles Dillon; TE Spencer Havner; offensive linemen Breno Giacomini, Chris Campbell, and Evan Dietrich-Smith; defensive linemen Anthony Toribio, Jarius Wynn, and Ronald Talley; LB's Robert Francois, Maurice Simpkins, Cyril Obiozor, and Alex Joseph; defensive backs D.J. Clark and Anthony Levine, and punter Chris Bryan.
Linebacker John Russell was also cut earlier in the week, at the same time that Al Harris, Atari Bigby, and James Starks were placed on the PUP list.
In addition, two players were placed on injured reserve for the Packers: lineman Allen Barbre and defensive back and return man Will Blackmon. Running back Quinn Porter was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week as well.
At quarterback, Graham Harrell looked impressive at times this preseason but ultimately the Packers kept two quarterbacks, just as they did last season. Harrell may be a good fit for the practice squad if he isn't picked up by another team.
It was interesting that the Packers cut Kregg Lumpkin, because this means the Pack have committed to using fullback John Kuhn as their third running back, which they tried this preseason. As James Starks and Quinn Porter are both hurt, it's a bit surprising that they didn't keep Lumpkin around, at least until Starks returns from the PUP list.
Brett Swain was kept as the fifth receiver, leaving four others to be cut. Jason Chery showed impressive speed and returned a punt for a touchdown against the Colts, but ultimately wasn't too impressive returning punts against the Chiefs, and may have lost a roster spot because of it.
Swain, meanwhile, went from having two catches in the entire preseason to breaking out in a big way when it counted, picking up 130 yards on six catches against the Chiefs, possibly earning him the final receiver spot.
Spencer Havner was possibly the most surprising cut on the team. Personally, I hadn't thought he was a completely sure bet to make the roster, but he is as versatile as they come, playing tight end, linebacker, and special teams.
However, the Packers kept all four of the other tight ends (including undrafted rookie Tom Crabtree and fifth-round choice Andrew Quarless), and were pretty deep at linebacker anyway.
The offensive line cuts didn't hold any big surprises, although Evan Dietrich-Smith was a useful backup center. Interestingly, the Packers decided to keep another undrafted rookie, guard/tackle Nick McDonald out of Grand Valley State.
The defensive line cuts weren't very surprising either, with the possible exception of nose tackle Anthony Toribio, who provided depth at a position which not too many of Green Bay's guys can play. Keeping defensive end C.J. Wilson may have been a surprise to some, but I'm not surprised to see the seventh-round pick make the team.
At linebacker, there weren't any more major surprises. Robert Francois made a nice fumble recovery against the Colts, but none of the four linebackers cut were outstanding. A not-so-surprising move is the decision to keep undrafted rookie Frank Zombo, who has looked great all preseason.
Only two players were cut in the secondary, in large part due to the injuries to starters Al Harris and Atari Bigby. In addition, Blackmon was placed on injured reserve, a bizarre move because it leaves the Pack with no real return men save Jordy Nelson. Undrafted Sam Shields made the team as well, showing excellent speed and good hands (he was a receiver for most of his college career at Miami) all preseason.
However, the team once again kept Jarrett Bush around. For many fans, this was just strange. How on earth does Jarrett Bush keep making their roster? He routinely flounders in coverage and is just ineffective as a cornerback, but it's likely that he'll be around at least until Harris can return.
At punter, the team chose to keep Tim Masthay, ending a very close race that lasted all preseason between Masthay and Chris Bryan. Maybe they should keep Bryan around on the practice squad, just in case Masthay ends up struggling.
The Packers kept four undrafted free agents, in addition to all seven of their draft picks (with the quasi-exception of James Starks, who is currently on the PUP list but may return to the roster later).
This shows that, despite being one of the younger teams in the league, Ted Thompson and the Packers are still as committed as ever to their "build from the ground up" philosophy, choosing young and unproven players who have plenty of upside to fill out their roster.
The only real concern the Packers have left following these cuts is who the return man will be. With Blackmon on injured reserve and Chery being cut, there aren't too many options.
Jordy Nelson could be the return man, but he's not going to scare any other teams. Sam Shields was given an opportunity because of his excellent speed, but he's going to have to seriously improve his kick-catching before the Packers consider him any further (he was terrible when they tried using him as a return man, muffing a ton of punts).
Finally, here's a look at a possible eight-man practice squad for Green Bay (keep in mind this is a "wish list," as any of these guys could be picked up by another team): QB Graham Harrell, RB Kregg Lumpkin, WR Jason Chery, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, NT Anthony Toribio, LB Alex Joseph, LB Robert Francois, and P Chris Bryan.
For comparison's sake, here's an article I wrote about a week ago predicting who would make the team. I wasn't terribly far off, and in the original version of the article, I'm proud to say I correctly predicted that Havner would be cut (which few others did).
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