Green Bay Packers: Cuts Are In, Evaluating the 53-Man Roster and Practice Squad

Michael DulkaContributor ISeptember 4, 2011

The Green Bay Packers have made their cuts and gotten to the NFL required 53-man roster. Practice squads have been signed and waivers have been accepted around the NFL. Now the Packers are ready to open NFL Kickoff Weekend against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 8.

In order to get down to 53 players, the Packers traded two players, placed two players on IR and cut 23. Here is a breakdown of the current 53 going into the practice for Week 1 against the Saints.


Quarterbacks (2)

Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn

The Packers decided to keep only two quarterbacks on the roster.

They rolled the dice by exposing Graham Harrell to waivers, but came up big as he went unclaimed. In the case of an injury to either Rodgers or Flynn, Harrell will signed to the active roster.

Harrell will have a great opportunity to improve over the season and next offseason to become a solid backup for Green Bay. 


Running Backs (4)

Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green, John Kuhn

The Packers elected to trade Quinn Johnson and cut Brandon Saine, keeping only three true running backs and a fullback in John Kuhn.

With the wealth the Packers currently have at tight end, they sacrificed a backup fullback in order to keep a fifth tight end.

The quartet of backs should be a huge improvement over last season's rushing attack.

Wide Receivers (5)

Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb

The Packers felt comfortable enough with their top five receivers that they felt it was unnecessary to keep a sixth because their abundance of talent at the position.

One of the top WR crops in the league, the Packers return Jennings, Driver, Jones and Nelson from last year's roster and added rookie playmaker Randall Cobb.

Big performances in training camp from Tori Gurley and Chastin West made many believe the Packers would keep one of these players to avoid risking them clearing waivers.   


Tight Ends (5)

Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor

The Packers were able to manipulate enough spots on the roster to keep all five of their talented tight ends. With Jermichael Finley's freakish athleticism allowing him to lineup outside, the Packers can use Finley as either a tight end or a wide receiver.

Crabtree, the team's best blocking tight end, provides something the other four do not. Quarless, Crabtree, and the rookies Williams and Taylor will expected to contribute on special teams.


Offensive Line (8)

Chad Clifton, T.J. Lang, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Marshall Newhouse

The Packers may be taking a risk only keeping eight offensive lineman as the typical number of linemen to keep is nine.

Clearly the team did not feel comfortable enough to keep Caleb Schlauderaff, who was traded to the New York Jets for a conditional pick, or Ray Dominguez, who the team retained on the practice squad.

It was expected that the Packers would look to pick up a ninth lineman on waivers, but they did not claim anybody.


Defensive Line (6)

B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, Howard Green, C.J. Wilson, Jarius Wynn

A unit that looked to be a potential weakness due to lack of depth has come around and looks ready for the regular season.

After an early injury to Mike Neal, Wilson stepped in to replace him, but a concussion cost Wilson pivotal time and allowed Wynn to pass him on the depth chart. If Mike Neal is unable to go, Wynn will get the start against the Saints in the season opener.

Each player on the line will be responsible for filling the void left by the departure of Cullen Jenkins.


Linebackers (10)

A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Clay Matthews, Frank Zombo, D.J. Smith, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Vic So'oto, Brad Jones, Erik Walden

The Packers kept an outrageously high number of linebackers by keeping 10.

If the Packers were to pick up a player at a different position and had to make a cut, it would most likely come at the linebacker position. Impressive preseasons from rookies So'oto, Smith, and Lattimore secured them positions on the rosters.

Just like the tight end position, many of these players will be asked to contribute on special teams. The Packers were also able to keep Zombo on the active roster instead of placing him on injured reserve.

He is expected to miss at least the first couple of weeks this season with a broken scapula.


Cornerbacks (6)

Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush, Davon House, Pat Lee

After a fierce training camp competition for the last two spots, the Packers decided on the rookie House and the trusted special teams player in Pat Lee.

House struggled to stay healthy early in the preseason, but showed enough to earn a spot. Lee struggled at times in the preseason, but other times covered very well. Even the times were he was beat, he was in good position, but failed to locate the ball in time.

House, Lee, and and Bush will all be expected to play big parts on special teams.


Safeties (4)

Nick Collins, Morgan Burnett, Charlie Peprah, M.D. Jennings

The biggest surprise on this unit is undrafted free agent M.D. Jennings. A long shot to make the roster at the start of camp, Jennings showed the coaches enough to garner a roster spot.

The Packers have a safety valve at the position as Jarrett Bush can and has played safety for the team. Collins and Peprah proved they can play at a Super Bowl winning level last season. Burnett showed flashes of being an exceptional safety before an injury ended his season.

The Packers have sustained their strength at safety and brought in a young player to develop.


Specialists (3)

Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

The only unit unchanged from last season, the specialists will be asked to build on their successful seasons last year.

Goode has been a silently exceptional long snapper for the Packers. With such a powerful leg, Crosby should be one of the players that benefits from the kickoff rule changes more than anybody.

Masthay is also quietly becoming one of the league's best punters. With a full year behind him, he should be even better this year.

The three players did not face competition throughout camp. 


Practice Squad (8)

WR Chastin West, WR Tori Guley, WR Diondre Borel, OL Ray Dominguez, OL Samson Genus, RB Brandon Saine, QB Graham Harrell, CB Brandian Ross

The Packers signed eight players to their practice squad that were all in training camp with the team.

The team risked losing their third quarterback in Harrell, but were lucky enough to sign him to the practice squad. He will benefit from another year under McCarthy and a full, uninterrupted offseason.

The team keeps three wide receivers that could eventually be a replacement for Donald Driver if that time were to come. The remaining players looked close to having what it takes to make the roster, but still needed more time to develop. By signing onto the practice squad, they will be provided with this opportunity.

DL Lawrence Guy and WR Shaky Smithson were placed on Injured Reserve. 


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