With the NFL preseason coming to an end in short order, all 32 teams, including the Green Bay Packers will soon need to reduce their rosters down to 53 players. And that always leads to some difficult decisions.
The Packers generally have fewer tough decisions than most, simply because they have such a strong core group of players. Yet, this year, there are a number of young players competing for spots at wide receiver, inside linebacker, offensive line, defensive line and at running back. The injury to Jordy Nelson also made things different at wide out and potentially opened up a spot or two as Green Bay tries to figure out how it will replace his production.
Yes, the Packers have a fourth preseason game to play against New Orleans and that will have an impact on who makes the final 53, but for now, here is my final roster prediction of the preseason.
QB (3) – Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien, Brett Hundley
The Packers are set at QB and now have two young prospects in Tolzien and Hundley that look like they can play.
RB/FB (5) – Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Rajion Neal, John Kuhn, Aaron Ripkowski
This was one of the more difficult decisions, but in the end, I felt Neal has done enough to earn a spot. He has also seen reps at the No. 1 kickoff returner and with Ty Montgomery playing a bigger role on offense, Neal could be a factor there. His pass-catching ability also played a role.
WR (6) – Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, Myles White, Jared Abbrederis
I might be crazy to put Abbrederis on the roster, but he if can play well against the Saints, I think he has shown enough for the Packers to keep him around, at least until the suspensions of Datone Jones and Letroy Guion end.
TE (3) – Richard Rodgers, Andrew Quarless, Justin Perillo.
Quarless and Rodgers are clearly the top two tight ends on the roster.
OL (8) – Bryan Bulaga, David Bakhtiari, T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, JC Trettor, Josh Walker, Don Barclay.
Walker has really impressed in training camp and in the preseason and may end up being the first Green Bay offensive lineman off the bench.
DL (6) – B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd, Mike Pennell, Khyri Thorton, Bruce Gaston; Susp: Datone Jones (1 game), Guion (3 games)
Guion and Jones will not count on the opening day roster, but will once their suspensions are over, that gives Thorton and possibly Gaston some time on the roster before they make it back.
LB (9) – Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Sam Barrington, Mike Neal, Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliot, Jake Ryan, Nate Palmer, Carl Bradford.
Linebacker is one of the Packers most competitive positions but these nine players have stood out the most. Bradford was the last to make it, but he will need to make his way on special teams if he is going to permanently stick.
DB (10) – Sam Shields, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Casey Hayward, Damarious Randall, Micah Hyde, Quinten Rollins, Ladarius Gunter, Anthony Richardson, Chris Banjo.
The Packers are loaded in the secondary and with three young, talented corners making the roster, along with young safeties such as Clinton-Dix and Hyde, the future is bright for Green Bay’s defensive backs.
ST (3) – Brett Goode, Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay.