The Packers are just about a week away from having to trim their roster from 90 to 75. The league mandated cutdown date is on Tuesday Aug. 27, but the Packers may not wait that long. Teams across the NFL will start to release players after their third preseason game.
Here's a few quick thoughts at each position on the roster in the wake of Saturday's win over the St. Louis Rams in Preseason Week 2...
Through two preseason games Graham Harrell is averaging 4.1 yards per pass attempt, and Vince Young is averaging only 2.8. Those numbers are beyond pitiful. No matter who the Packers keep, it's hard to see either Harrell or Young be the Packers' backup in 2014. Coleman is the best pure passer among all the backups on the team, but he's still raw. The Packers may have to go back to the drawing board in the offseason.
There is no trade value for either James Starks or Alex Green. No NFL team is going to give up a draft choice when they know at least one of these two guys is going to be cut, and perhaps both of them will be released. Green doesn't appear to be the same player after his knee surgery two years ago. Starks is the better of the two, but the next season he stays fully healthy will be his first.
The top three receivers are set in stone, and it would appear Jarrett Boykin has solidified himself as No. 4. Jeremy Ross is the top option as number five if for no other reason than his special teams return ability, but he absolutely has to be consistent with his ball security. There can be no fumbles, no muffs and no drops with Ross. Tyrone Walker has had a nice training camp, but can the Packers afford to keep a sixth receiver on their roster that won't be active on regular season game days anyway? Walker has a better chance of making the team if Ross is cut.
Beyond Jermichael Finley, the tight end position in Green Bay is a mess. It's difficult to see the Packers keep five once again, because it would be a waste to keep four fringe players. Injuries are definitely part of the issue. Matthew Mulligan would be a lock because of his blocking, but his injury Saturday night throws a monkey wrench into the team's roster makeup. Andrew Quarless might be the most complete tight end in the roster, but the Packers can't wait forever for him to get healthy. Ryan Taylor might be the best special teams player, but that alone shouldn't make him a lock to make the team. He too needs to get healthy and on the field. Brandon Bostick is a poor man's version of Finley. As long as the Packers have Finley, there's no need to have Bostick too. But he may stick on the practice squad. D.J. Williams just can't seem to put it all together.
The seven players who will be active on regular season game days is all but set, barring injury. It would appear Don Barclay has the edge on Marshall Newhouse as the starting right tackle, but either way, Newhouse is the backup swing tackle. If either of the guards were to get hurt, Barclay would take over. And Greg Van Roten is the team's backup center, although the Packers have to be worried if Evan Dietrich-Smith were to ever miss any extended period of time.
After Saturday's performance, it would be extremely difficult to part ways with Johnny Jolly. The bigger question might be, what does Jolly's emergence mean for rookie Josh Boyd? It's hard to see the Packers keeping both Jolly and Boyd. The Packers can try to stash Boyd on the practice squad, but once they cut him, they also risk another team signing him to their 53-man roster.
Both Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer took a big step forward on Saturday night against the Rams, and they figure to be fighting for one roster spot between the two of them. This is a battle that may go down to the fourth and final preseason game.
Based on his showing in the first two preseason games, Robert Francois looks to be the top backup at inside linebacker. He needs to be cross-trained at both positions should either Brad Jones or A.J. Hawk go down. The Packers may not have any elite players at the position, but they do have plenty of depth.
Davon House didn't do anything specular after coming back from what can only be described as a horrible performance in preseason Week 1, but he looked solid. Micah Hyde is fantastic playing in close quarters and being sent on the blitz, but he's still a work in progress playing and covering in space.
Chris Banjo might hit like a ton of bricks, but at 5-10 he's eventually going to get exposed by taller receivers in coverage. It's still difficult to see the Packers keeping any more than three safeties currently on their roster. The waiver wire might be the best chance of finding an upgrade in the position.
The competition between Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio is coming down to its final week. They'll cut one of the two after the third preseason game. Crosby might have gotten the upper edge by going perfect on his field goal attempts in the Rams game, while Tavecchio missed one. Crosby also has the edge on kickoffs. But what happens if Crosby looks terrible next week against the Seahawks? No clue. Just hope that doesn't happen.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "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.
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