I was fairly proud of my 53-man roster prediction in which I correctly picked 51 out of the 53 players that would comprise the Green Bay Packers' 2011 roster to begin the season.
I'll gladly gloat, though my purpose is to point out where I was wrong.
I had the Packers keeping quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Chastin West in favor of outside linebacker Jamari Lattimore and safety M.D. Jennings.
While Harrell and West both have long-term value and stand a good chance of returning to the NFL in the near future, their short-term value to the Packers doesn't compare to Lattimore and Jennings.
The message from general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy is loud and clear: Help us help you.
In other words, we need help winning games now in Week 1, not in 2012 and beyond.
The Packers rolled the dice in exposing Harrell to waivers, though the gamble paid off, and he returns to the practice squad. But the reality is, Harrell was only going to play this season if two injuries occurred ahead of him.
As for West, the chances of him making the roster increased exponentially when it appeared that Randall Cobb might not be able to perform his return specialist duties, let alone at wide receiver.
The Packers could have kept West, and he might become a good player in time, but he isn't a better option than any of the five wide receivers currently on the roster. Pretty much the only way he was going to be active is if Cobb couldn't go.
Compare them to Lattimore and Jennings. While still raw, both have proved to be healthy and durable during training camp and at the very least, could be core special teams players if their card is called on Thursday night.
They're not locks to be active in the season opening game, but as the old coach McCarthy maxim goes, they're "available and accountable."
Barring injury, Lattimore and Jennings would have a bigger impact on any given game in 2011 than Harrell or West. And that's what the Packers are looking for, especially given their weak-link special teams.
And it's a theme that permeates their roster. It's why they kept three fullbacks in the past and why they're keeping five tight ends this year.
While they can't use five tight ends on offense at any one time, guys like Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree and Ryan Taylor can and will play a role on special teams.
The Packers simply keep the 53 best players on the team and those that can help them win the next game.
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