With final cuts made and the initial 53-man roster in place, the Green Bay Packers begun filling out their eight-man practice squad Sunday afternoon.
Below is the list of players signed by Green Bay to the practice squad:
QB Scott Tolzien: A Wisconsin alum, Tolzien stuck around in San Francisco for two years in large part due to his smarts and development in the 49ers playbook. However, he lacks big-time physical tools, and will need considerable more work before he’s ready to be a full-time backup. Sound familiar? Tolzien might be Graham Harrell 2.0, but with a Badger background. The 49ers certainly didn’t think he was ready to backup Colin Kaepernick in 2013 despite giving him that opportunity. When it’s all said and done, Tolzien’s appointment on the practice squad might be nothing more than getting an insider look at the 49ers offense, of which the Packers new quarterback should have plenty to share on.
WR Charles Johnson: As the Packers arrived for training camp, many believed Johnson—a seventh-round pick in 2013—would compete for the open slot as Green Bay’s No. 5 receiver. Injuries ensured that emergence never happened. Johnson dealt with several ailments throughout the offseason, only to return for the dying embers of the preseason. He simply didn’t have enough time on the field for the Packers to keep him on the 53-man roster, despite his immense physical attributes (4.3 speed at 6’2″). 31 other NFL teams thought the same, as he cleared waivers and landed on Green Bay’s practice squad. Hopefully he can avoid becoming the 2013/14 version of Tori Gurley, who teased on the practice squad but never became a real player.
WR Myles White: The Packers kept two receivers on the practice squad, as most expected. But many also assumed the second slot would be given to Tyrone Walker, not White. While Walker had his share of moments throughout camp and the preseason, the Packers likely looked at his 5’10″ frame and limited speed and decided to give the spot to White, who possesses considerably more vertical quickness. The undrafted free agent from Louisiana Tech has a gear Walker simply can’t get to. For as polished as Walker looked at times, there’d still be huge question marks about how he’d get open against top competition.
TE Jake Stoneburner: Stoneburner had a lot working against him at tight end in terms of quality depth. In fact, the Packers cut a former fifth-round pick (D.J. Williams) and their top free agent pickup this spring (Matthew Mulligan) and Stoneburner still couldn’t find a spot on the 53-man roster. However, he remains an intriguing receiver and blocker combination, and a year on the Packers practice squad should give him an excellent opportunity to win a roster spot come next August. It’s certainly possible he could get a midseason call up, too, as Andrew Quarless is an injury concern and Brandon Bostick was picked for the 53 based on receiving potential alone. This feels like a good situation for both team and player.
CB James Nixon: You wonder if Nixon would have made a legitimate run at a roster spot had he not suffered knee and ankle injuries at various times in training camp. He certainly has the straight-line speed to play in the NFL. In fact, Nixon might be one of the fastest players on the Packers roster. And at nearly 6’1″, Nixon’s size is another asset. He has the look. But injuries derailed any real chance of making the team, and his contributions on special teams were mostly limited. Maybe by this time next year, we’ll be talking about Nixon making the journey from two-year practice squader to the Packers 53-man roster.
G Bryan Collins: The Packers worked out Collins Sunday and obviously saw enough in the undrafted free agent to bring him aboard the practice squad. He originally signed with the Houston Texans after April’s draft, and went on to play in two preseason games. The Packers needed to make an addition on the interior of the offensive line after losing Patrick Lewis on waivers to the Cleveland Browns.
OT Aaron Adams: Adams has impressive size at 6’5″ and 303 pounds. After signing with the Cleveland Browns as undrafted free agent in April, Adams went on to play in all four preseason games. His main position is offensive tackle.
RB Michael Hill: The Packers gave Hill, who scored 35 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 5,000 yards at Missouri Western, a pre-draft visit in April. He eventually signed with the San Diego Chargers after the draft. During the preseason, Hill rushed 21 times for 60 yards and caught two passes for 15. The Packers needed an emergency option with only three active running backs on the roster.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covered prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at email@example.com.