Keeping The Dream Alive
The Packers completed their practice squad by re-signing 15 players who were released by the team on cutdown day and adding one new face. Is this the start of something big for these young men, or just a temporary reprieve on the way to their next career? The best way to find out is to look back at what happened to the players signed by GM Brian Gutekunst to the initial practice squads in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
|RB Joel Bouagnon||Cut after 38 days on PS.|
|OL Austin Davis||Cut after 23 days on PS.|
|LB Kendall Donnerson||Spent 2018 on PS.|
|FB Joe Kerridge||Spent two months on PS in 2018.|
|DL Tyler Lancaster||Played 43 games since 2018. GB’s No. 4/5 DL in 2021.|
|DL James Looney||Played 3 games in 2018.|
|LB Greer Martini||Cut after 32 days on PS.|
|OL Adam Pankey||Played 1 game in 2018 and 6 games for MIA in 2019 & 2020.|
|CB Tony Brown||Played 9 games in 2019 and 13 games for CIN in 2020.|
|DB Marwin Evans||Spent 8 days on PS in 2018.|
|TE Evan Baylis||Played 5 games in 2019 and 5 games for ARZ in 2020.|
|RB Tra Carson||Played 6 games in 2018 and 2019 and 1 game for DET in 2019.|
|CB Kabion Ento||Member of GB’s current practice squad. Has yet to play in a game.|
|WR Allen Lazard||Played 26 games in 2019 and 2020. GB’s No. 3 WR in 2021.|
|DL James Looney||Spent 2019 on PS.|
|OT Yosh Nijman||Played 16 games in 2020. GB’s No 3/4 OT in 2021.|
|LB Randy Ramsey||Played 12 games in 2020. Placed on IR last month.|
|LB Brady Sheldon||Cut after 30 days on PS. Played 2 games for NYJ in 2020.|
|WR Malik Taylor||Played 15 games in 2020. GB’s No. 6 WR in 2021.|
|QB Manny Wilkins||Spent 2019 on PS.|
|LB Krys Barnes||Played 13 games in 2020. GB’s starting ILB in 2021.|
|WR Reggie Begelton||Played 1 game for GB in 2020.|
|DB Henry Black||Played 8 games in 2020. GB’s No. 3/4 safety in 2021.|
|RB Damarea Crockett||Cut after 4 days on PS.|
|LB Tipa Galeai||Played 1 game in 2020. Will begin 2021 on GB’s PS.|
|OL Jake Hanson||Spent 2020 on PS and IR. GB’s backup center in 2021.|
|OL Zack Johnson||Spent 2020 on PS.|
|OL Alex Light||Cut after 4 days on PS.|
|FB John Lovett||Played 8 games for GB in 2020.|
|DL Willington Previlon||Spent 2020 on PS.|
|LB Greg Roberts||Cut after 17 days on PS.|
|CB Stanford Samuels||Spent 2020 on PS.|
|DL Delontae Scott||Spent 2020 on PS.|
|WR Darrius Shepherd||Played 8 games for GB in 2020.|
|WR Robert Foster||Signed off PS by WAS. Played 4 games.|
|LB De’Jon Harris||Played 2 games in 2020.|
—Of the 35 players who began the past three seasons on the initial practice squad, 17 (48.5%) played in at least one game for the Packers. And the numbers were fairly consistent – four (40%) in 2018, six (60%) in 2019, and seven (44%) in 2020. Only Lancaster, Lazard, Taylor, Barnes, and Ramsey played in more than 10 games, although Brown (9), Lovett (8), and Shepherd (8) came close. Of that group, only Lancaster, Lazard, and Barnes started a game.
—Of the 35 players who began the past three seasons on the initial practice squad, only 10 are currently in the National Football League. All 10 are with the Packers. Lancaster, Lazard, Taylor, Nijman, Hanson, Barnes, and Black are on the 53-man roster; Galeai and Ento are on the 16-man practice squad, and Ramsey is on injured reserve.
The third-year defensive lineman signed on Aug. 25 and showed enough in the final exhibition game to earn a spot on the practice squad. He’s a decent inside pass rusher, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him elevated to the 53 at some point during the season.
The ex-Falcon did what No. 3 QBs are supposed to do this summer. He stayed healthy, forged strong relationships with the other QBs, and made a few plays in the preseason. The Packers hope they never have to promote him to the 53.
Reggie Begelton was more deserving, but the Packers went with the younger and faster wide receiver. With so much depth at this position – both on the 53 and the practice squad – there’s little chance Blair plays in a game this season.
The 27-year-old journeyman went from a potential starter at guard to the practice squad in a matter of a few weeks, but don’t expect Braden to stay here all season. His versatility figures to get him promoted to the 53 at some point.
The Packers almost always keep an offensive lineman from a smaller school on the practice squad, and this year it’s Capra from San Diego State. He had a nice preseason and will use the coming months to add a much-needed 10 pounds.
The former Colorado wide receiver first made the practice squad in 2019. He’s far more advanced at corner now, but his shoddy tackling probably cost him a spot on the 53. He’ll be ready if Isaac Yiadom doesn’t impress early in the season.
The undrafted rookie safety from TCU came thisclose to making the 53, and he’ll be ready if Vernon Scott’s hammy continues to be a problem. Gaines has excellent size, above-average speed, and was around the ball a lot in practice.
The second-year outside linebacker played the run better this summer, but he wasn’t as effective as an edge rusher. With Za’Darius Smith dealing with a nagging back injury, Galeai will be a possible elevation throughout the season.
There aren’t many unproven 30-year-olds on practice squads, but the converted defensive end showed promise in the preseason. With Marcedes Lewis entering his 25th season, Kaufusi could be seen as his replacement in 2022.
Keeping a kicker on the expanded practice squad in the age of COVID-19 makes sense. It makes even more sense when the incumbent kicker is 37 and makes $4M a year. The Packers could be looking to replace Mason Crosby next season.
EQUANIMEOUS ST. BROWN
The former sixth-round pick looks the part of a starting wide receiver, but his play screams practice squad. That said, St. Brown provides quality depth and it would be a surprise if he’s not elevated to the 53 at some point this season.
The second-year player beat out Dexter Williams for a spot on the practice squad. Considering the pounding running backs take each week, it would be a surprise if Taylor doesn’t make his way onto the 53 for at least a few games.
COLE VAN LANEN
The Green Bay native made a strong run at a spot on the 53 but lost out to center Jake Hanson. Van Lanen, who’ll use this season to get stronger, is probably behind Braden in the pecking order if an offensive lineman needs to be elevated.
The former safety from Ball State played well in all three preseason games, but the Packers ultimately decided to go with experience (Ty Summers and Oren Burks) and a draft choice (Isaiah McDuffie) as the backups at inside linebacker.
The third-year wide receiver was the talk of the offseason OTAs, but a shoulder injury early in training camp ended his bid for a spot on the 53. Once healthy, Winfree will have another chance to show he belongs on the active roster.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see the first-year player from Iowa State snapping in week 1. He has experience with new holder Corey Bojorquez, and the Packers wouldn’t have signed Wirtel if they were satisfied with Hunter Bradley.
—This is easily the most experienced of Gutekunst’s practice squads. Five of the players have played in at least one game (Anderson with Chicago and Minnesota; Winfree with Denver and the Packers; Braden, Galeai, and St. Brown with the Packers). Conversely, only four players on the previous three practice squads had any prior game experience.
—If history is any indication, expect the following from the 16 players on this year’s initial practice squad: seven will play in at least one game for the Packers this season; one or two will play in more than 10 games, and maybe one will start a game. Projecting even further down the road, only four or five will still be in the league three years from now.
–photo courtesy of packers.com
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