GREEN BAY, Wis. — Training camp is over. Preseason is over. That means its decision time for the Green Bay Packers, as general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy deliberate over which 53 players to keep for their 2014 roster.
Here is FOXSportsWisconsin.com’s final projection for what that 53-man roster will look like . . .
Analysis: Scott Tolzien was statistically the better of the two backup quarterbacks in preseason, but the Packers are very comfortable with Matt Flynn. To Tolzien’s surprise, he is practice-squad eligible, though there’s almost no chance he would pass through waivers unclaimed. Green Bay found out the hard way in 2013 what happens when ill-prepared behind Aaron Rodgers, and with the Tolzien/Flynn debate being somewhat of a toss-up, expect the Packers to keep both. Is it really worth losing either Flynn or Tolzien just so a sixth wide receiver or a sixth cornerback can be kept on the active roster? Expect Green Bay to answer "no" to that question and carry three quarterbacks for the first time since 2008.
Analysis: This one is fairly obvious. DuJuan Harris’ spot is further secured by his status as the Packers’ top kick returner. Harris, Eddie Lacy, James Starks and John Kuhn comprise the best backfield group that Green Bay has had in many years.
Analysis: Two catches, two touchdowns, no chance of getting cut. That’s the story of Jeff Janis, whose breakaway speed and big-play ability can’t be overlooked by the Packers. Given what Janis has put on film, Green Bay would have no chance of getting him to the practice squad. Even if he doesn’t contribute for a while in meaningful snaps, Janis’ raw ability has him as a much-hyped prospect who will stick around to develop behind the team’s top four wide receivers. It’s difficult leaving Kevin Dorsey off the 53-man roster because of his ability on special teams. However, Dorsey’s inconsistency as a wide receiver decreases his value. Myles White is on the bubble, too, but he’s more likely headed for the practice squad to begin the season.
Analysis: This position is a tough call. The only sure bets are Richard Rodgers and Brandon Bostick, though Bostick will miss several games to begin the regular season with a leg injury. Andrew Quarless has been mediocre and could be a relatively big surprise cut. Ryan Taylor has developed very little as an offensive player as he prepares for his fourth NFL season, so the decision with him will come down to how valuable he is on special teams. Jake Stoneburner has earned a spot with his pass-catching abilities, but he’s not even close to the special teams contributor that Taylor is. Perillo has done very well, too, but he is more likely a practice-squad player as a rookie.
Analysis: After the season-ending injury to Don Barclay, this became an easier group to call. JC Tretter’s knee injury that will keep him out to begin the regular season puts Corey Linsley into the starting center role. Lane Taylor backs up both guard spots and Derek Sherrod covers both tackles. This could be an area where the Packers look to the waiver wire to see if other teams release players who could help add quality depth.
Analysis: The injury suffered by Khyri Thornton in the preseason finale complicates the defensive line. Given that he’s done very little thus far, Thornton didn’t necessarily earn a spot on the team. Being a third-round pick, though, all but ensures being one of the 53. Dealing with a hamstring injury could shelve Thornton for the year and allow the Packers to keep a more deserving player at a different position. Keep in mind that Green Bay will use a few of its outside linebackers on the defensive line in various packages.
Analysis: Like Thornton, Nate Palmer’s injury in the preseason finale could potentially land him on injured reserve. Palmer was on the bubble going in and was being given a chance at inside linebacker. Jayrone Elliott led the NFL in preseason sacks with five, and he solidified his roster spot when he had his way with Kansas City’s actual Week 1 starting right tackle. Carl Bradford has yet to play well, but he’s a fourth-round pick and the Packers seem determined to find a position where he can contribute. Bradford was switched to inside linebacker in the final week of training camp. That’s been a successful shift in the past for players like Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore. Andy Mulumba is very much on the bubble, but Palmer’s injury helps his chances. Julius Peppers and Mike Neal — and possibly Nick Perry, too — will play with their hand in the dirt on the defensive line at times.
Analysis: Jumal Rolle could either be No. 53 or No. 54 on the roster. If he’s No. 53, he’s in. If he’s No. 54, he’s out. It could be that close. What’s far more certain is that he outplayed sixth-round pick rookie Demetri Goodson, who won’t make it. Goodson’s concussion that kept him out of the preseason finale complicates his status a bit, too. Jarrett Bush played very well on defense in preseason and is an elite special teams player, so he’s not going anywhere.
Analysis: The only real question here surrounds Chris Banjo, who made the team as an undrafted rookie last year. Banjo is on the first-team units of several special teams groups, and that is what gives him an edge over players from other positions who are also on the bubble.
Analysis: No competition means no question on who makes it.