The Packers kept four running backs and seven corners on their 53-man roster. That’s unusual for a team that has never run the ball much and didn’t cover anyone last season. Here’s a quick position-by-position analysis of Saturday’s moves:
QUARTERBACKS – I predicted on Friday that general manager Ted Thompson would keep three at this position, but my preference all along was two. There’s a decent chance undrafted rookie Taysom Hill and second-year pro Joe Callahan will clear waivers, and there’s almost no chance both will be claimed. That means the Packers should have a quarterback familiar with their offense on the practice squad by this afternoon.
RUNNING BACKS – It seems unnecessary for a team that figures to run the ball so little to retain so many runners, but all three rookies showed promise this summer and there was almost no way to choose between draft picks Aaron Jones and Devante Mays. This depth should also keep Thompson from having to promote an undrafted free agent from the practice squad and/or trade for a journeyman during the season
TIGHT ENDS – Nothing to see here. Thompson will likely sign either Emanuel Byrd or Aaron Peck to the practice squad.
WIDE RECEIVERS – I’ve been telling fans for weeks to calm down about the overhyped young players at this position. Thompson put an exclamation point on my words by releasing DeAngelo Yancey, Malachi Dupre, Max McCaffrey and Michael Clark. Expect at least two of them to be added to the practice squad. The depth at tight end makes going into the opener against Seattle with only five wide receivers no big deal.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN – One of the very few real surprises on Saturday was keeping both Lucas Patrick and Justin McCray on the 53-man roster. That seems like overkill, even if you assume Don Barclay (ankle) won’t be available for a few games. There’s a chance one of the two – probably McCray – won’t last the week.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN – I also preferred Christian Ringo to Brian Price because he’s a better inside pass rusher. Run stuffers are much easier to find on the street in November and December. Considering he hasn’t practiced since late July, rookie Montravius Adams will likely be placed on IR within the next 24 hours.
LINEBACKERS – Reggie Gilbert outplayed both Kyler Fackrell and Jayrone Elliott, but he wasn’t a third-round pick and he didn’t receive a $350K bonus in the spring. It might not be fair, but that’s life in the NFL. And let’s be honest, Gilbert is really nothing more than a younger version of Elliott, Desmond Moses, Andy Mulumba, etc. Ahmad Brooks will push Fackrell and Elliott down the depth chart as soon as he officially signs.
DEFENSIVE BACKS – Holding onto seven corners seems excessive for a team that might not have even one good one. Of all the moves on Saturday, keeping Lenzy Pipkins was the most surprising. The undrafted rookie had a nice summer, but he seemed destined for the practice squad. Thompson looks to be taking to heart what Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome’s once said about never having too many corners.
SPECIALISTS – If Thompson wants a new punter, he won’t have to settle for a weak-legged journeyman like Jake Schum this year. Former All-Pro Andy Lee is available after being cut by Carolina. That said, undrafted rookie Justin Vogel should feel reasonably secure after a strong final preseason game on Thursday.
NOTES – Rookie outside linebacker Vince Biegel (foot surgery in May) and veteran corner/special teams star Demetri Goodson (knee surgery last November) will stay on PUP to start the season. There’s no guarantee either will be activated, but it gives Thompson options as the games move along and injuries occur.