Making The Cut 3.0
I doubt there was anything Kurt Benkert could’ve done against the Bills on Saturday to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, but his pedestrian performance pretty much guaranteed that he’ll begin the season on the practice squad. Is there a chance he gets claimed off waivers? Doubtful, unless another team is interested in improving its cred on TikTok.
RUNNING BACK (3)
Hill earned the No. 3 job, but I’d also keep Dexter Williams around to return kicks. That almost certainly won’t happen. If the former Notre Dame star clears waivers, I wouldn’t be surprised if he prefers to join another team’s practice squad since the Packers might have the deepest and most talented group of running backs in the entire league.
TIGHT END (4)
Bronson Kaufusi had a better than expected summer, but the practice squad is the perfect place for a 30-year-old converted defensive lineman to continue honing his skills on offense. Jace Sternberger will serve a two-game suspension to start the season, and that’s probably the only thing keeping him from being released on Tuesday. Barring an injury, I would expect to see the former third-round pick sent packing after his suspension comes to an end.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
The Packers don’t really need to keep six wide receivers. Four is enough for game day, and they could keep two or three on the practice squad. That said, it’ll be very difficult to deny Taylor a spot on the 53-man roster. The former undrafted free agent from Ferris State enjoyed an impressive summer and looked more and more like a legitimate top-4 receiver with each passing day. Juwann Winfree and Reggie Begelton are strong candidates for the practice squad.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
I no longer see Bakhtiari staying on PUP. It’s more likely he’ll either be moved to the 53 or be placed on short-term IR after final cuts. Nijman was much improved from a year ago, but keeping him on the 53 comes down to one thing – is he truly the backup left tackle? Last season, he was about the fourth option at the position. I’m going to put Kelly on the 53, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s either released or placed on IR. Patrick played poorly this summer, but would the Packers really move on from their only experienced interior lineman? I don’t have Ben Braden and Cole Van Lanen on the 53, but there’s a chance at least one of them will be added later in the week.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
The only question all summer has been, do you keep both Lancaster and Heflin? My answer is yes. While it’s true they’re very similar players, there’s no reason to let go of a capable big man – especially when the alternatives at other positions aren’t as good. Willington Previlon flashed a few times and could find himself back on the practice squad.
The final two spots are up in the air, although Garvin should feel relatively secure. The defensive coaches seem to like him, and general manager Brian Gutekunst will almost always favor one of his draft picks if the competition for a roster spot is close. I don’t know if a fifth inside linebacker is needed, but McDuffie did show real potential once he got healthy. If 10 players are kept at this position, second-year long shot Chauncey Rivers could sneak his way onto the 53. Ray Wilborn, De’Jon Harris, Tipa Galeai, and Delontae Scott are all candidates for the practice squad.
DEFENSIVE BACK (11)
Seven corners seem too many, especially when none of the last three names on the list played all that well in the preseason. That said, fifth-round pick Jean-Charles and converted wide receiver Ento have intriguing potential, and Yiadom has plenty of experience and the skill set to help on special teams. I could also see Christian Uphoff or Innes Gaines sticking on the 53 – either as a replacement for the injured Scott or instead of a seventh corner (Ento).
Scott did absolutely nothing this summer to hold onto his job for a fourth season, but the Packers appear willing to live with his inconsistent punting because he’s such a good holder. Gutekunst also drafted him in the fifth round.
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