Obviously a lot can and will happen between now and the end of training camp when the Packers have to whittle their roster down to 53 players. This is football, and as unfortunate as it may be, injuries have a way of dictating roster decisions. All this is to say, things will change between now and the beginning of September.
In any case, this is a good time to look at how the roster stacks up heading into Organized Team Activities, which begin on Monday in Green Bay.
Brief commentary after each position will focus more on the players on the roster bubble as compared to those who are more sure bets to make the team.
Commentary: There’s still a lot for Coleman to prove, but as it stands now, he’s predicted to overtake Graham Harrell as the team’s primary backup to Rodgers this season. It’s hard to see the Packers keeping a third quarterback on the 53-man roster, but if Coleman wins the backup job, Matt Brown stands a good chance of becoming the de facto No. 3 quarterback on the practice squad.
Fullback John Kuhn
Commentary: The rookies, Lacy and Franklin, are locks to make the roster, and based upon his performance last year, Harris isn’t going anywhere either. It would appear as if Green and James Starks could be fighting for one roster spot between them. Perhaps whoever proves he can stay healthy will remain employed. It will be interesting to watch Angelo Pease when the pads come on, given the impression he left on Mike McCarthy in rookie orientation camp. John Kuhn’s job would appear to be safe for another year, but don’t expect him to carry the ball much any more.
Commentary: Cobb, Nelson and Jones are assured of roster spots, but beyond that, it’s up for grabs. Because of his experience last year, Boykin has the inside track on the No. 4 receiver spot. Johnson certainly looks the part from a size and speed standpoint, but he has to prove he can handle it the job mentally too. Jeremy Ross has a chance to stick if he can be reliable as a return specialist. Kevin Dorsey also has an opportunity to win the No. 5 job, but he’s going to have to leapfrog a couple competitors along the way. It wouldn’t be unheard of for the Packers to keep only four receivers if a fifth doesn’t impress, especially if they have enough options at tight end.
Commentary: Finley’s future in Green Bay might be murky beyond 2013, but as for the season at hand, he’ll be looking to make a big-time statement. Mulligan stands a good chance to take over Tom Crabtree’s role as the designated blocking tight end. Both Williams and Taylor are entering what could be make or break seasons. As of right now, Andrew Quarless is predicted not to make it on the basis of his very serious injury suffered two years ago, but there will be plenty of opportunities to prove himself between now and September.
Commentary: It’s a big jump going from the seven offensive linemen last year to the nine projected here, but the guessing is that the Packers won’t want to risk cutting some of the younger guys like Bakhtiari or Tretter and risk losing them. The open spot at right tackle might not yet be settled, but there’s no shortage of candidates. Undrafted rookie Lane Taylor will have a chance to make his presence known, but it will be tough for him to make the roster, because the Packers have more invested into their two fourth round draft choices. Greg Van Roten will have to come on like gangbusters if he’s going to beat the odds for a second consecutive year. Garth Gerhart and Patrick Lewis are good practice squad candidates as true centers.
Commentary: It’s assumed Jerel Worthy will at least begin the season on the PUP list. It was going out on a limb keeping only six defensive linemen, especially when Raji, Pickett, Neal and Wilson are all free agents after 2013, but it basically came down to who would the Packers rather keep on their roster––Josh Boyd or one of their fourth round offensive linemen? Boyd could be stashed away on the practice squad. Johnny Jolly looks like he’ll get a fair shake, but he’s going to have to really impress if the Packers are going to keep a 30 year old who’s been out of football for three years over much younger options who have a lot of good years ahead of them.
Commentary: Perry is a starter whether he’s ready or not, and Moses is the top backup to either Matthews or Perry until someone else proves otherwise. Sixth round draft choice Nate Palmer finds himself in a good position as the No. 4 outside linebacker, but he’ll be pushed by undrafted rookies Andy Mulumba and Donte Savage. It wouldn’t be surprising if Jamari Lattimore, Rob Francois or even Brad Jones go back to outside linebacker where they’ve played in the past.
Commentary: Bishop still has a long road on his way to recovery from last year’s hamstring injury, but when healthy, he’s the team’s best inside linebacker. There’s plenty of depth at inside linebacker, at least in terms of sheer numbers. Manning has a chance to make a big jump from last year as long as his health woes are behind him. Lattimore is more of a special teams player than anything, and will be pushed by seventh round draft choice Sam Barrington for the same type of role. If special teams is going to be the deciding factor, it makes more sense that the Packers keep Jarrett Bush rather than Francois.
Commentary: Fans may be down on Williams after two bad games last season, but his job is safe unless anything unforeseen happens. Hayward, Shields and House are all young, up-and-coming corners and will be fighting for snaps. It’s a good dilemma for the Packers to have. Hyde makes the cut, but he’ll find it tough to find playing time in his rookie year.
Commentary: Safety is currently the thinnest position on the team, and it wouldn’t be surprising for the Packers to add a veteran presence at some point, for insurance if nothing else. McMillian is the most likely starter opposite Burnett, even if Jennings has more experience. Richardson is a good bet to make the roster if he shows his offseason cervical disc surgery isn’t a risk. Jarrett Bush has been an emergency safety in the past and a full-time switch to the position isn’t out of the question.
Commentary: There’s nobody to provide competition to Masthay and Goode, but they don’t exactly need it either. The Packers have brought in another kicker to test Crosby for the first time since 2007 with Giorgio Tavecchio. Crosby still has the inside track on the job as long as he doesn’t tank it. After last year’s performance, however, tanking it doesn’t exactly seem beyond Crosby’s any more.
Brian Carriveau is the author of “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.