Gunter Excels, Secures Potential Roster Spot in Preseason Finale

None of the "bubble" players had secured roster spots heading into tonight's preseason finale: a 24-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

LaDarius Gunter was one of those players, however, his fortunes may have changed for the better after a strong performance.

Gunter stepped into the starting role last season in the face of adversity—adversity being a battered group of cornerbacks that rounded out position coach Joe Whitt Jr.'s group. He saw extended work on the perimeter, assigned to some of the league's top receivers: Odell Beckham Jr., Dez Bryant, Julio Jones. 

As you could probably expect, those scenarios didn't end so well. Contrary to what a stat sheet would show, Gunter did, occasionally, fair well against some top-tier targets.

Having him starting was never the plan for defensive coordinator Dom Capers, but when lead defenders such as Sam Shields and Damarious Randall go down, Shields with a concussion and Randall with nagging groin issues that required October surgery, risks need to be taken.

Gunter entered training camp in 2017 as a starter but has since seen his role decrease in light of the Packers' second-round draft pick Kevin King and Davon House, now back where his career began, emerging in the secondary. Randall has also shown promise from his new "star" position in the slot.

Because of this, he needed a strong camp, a strong game, a strong preseason—anything—to show he still belonged in Whitt's unit. 

Any remembrance of his inconsistent play throughout the last month was wiped away on a single drive.

Gunter came free on a blitz from his slot position and sacked Rams quarterback Dan Orlovsky. If that wasn't enough to open some eyes, he caught a tipped interception a mere two plays later: a ball that just missed its intended receiver.

Gunter celebrates a sack in the Packers' preseason victory over the Los Angeles Rams. (Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK)

He finished the game with a tackle to go along with his totals, and it may have been just enough to secure him a spot on the Packers' 53-man roster come Saturday.

"That was much-needed for me," said Gunter after the game to Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Last game of the preseason, just building on that success."

Gunter is likely to be one of the six cornerbacks to make the Packers' roster for the regular season. He'd join House, Randall, King, Quinten Rollins and Josh Hawkins, barring anything crazy on cutdown day.

"Nobody is safe, you know what I'm saying? It's always best to go out there and make a play and give yourself a chance."

He may very well be near the bottom of the depth chart alongside Hawkins, a special teams contributor, but that alone should provide the Packers solace knowing Gunter was able to run with the starters a season ago.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (5)

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GBPDAN1's picture

September 01, 2017 at 02:39 am

Playing against speedy receivers on the outside is not Gunter's forte . As long as he's not asked to do this, he's a valid option for a #5 CB spot. I'm starting to give up on Fackrell. I'd rather see Gilbert take his spot.

I'm stoked for the opener. Hope the O comes out crisp and in sync. Little worried it might take a quarter or so due to lack of live preseason game reps for the complete starting unit as a whole. Would love to see Bulaga, Mathews and Perry all ready for the game. Need to beat Seattle and Atlanta out of the gate. Lets get the upper hand on home field advantage for the playoffs. Go Pack!

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NoNonsense's picture

September 01, 2017 at 04:16 am

Could be a coin flip or paper rock scissors between Gunter, Pipkins and Brown. I like all 3, Pipkins may actually have the most potential of the 3 and the best combination of size and speed.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 01, 2017 at 06:07 pm

Pipkens is 6' and has a good forty, real good 10 yard dash, but his broad of 113, his 3 cone, his vertical, and his 20 yd shuttle are all bad. No question that Brown at 5'11" is at least as fast, and is a far better athlete.

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fthisJack's picture

September 01, 2017 at 03:53 pm

Pipkens was great the first 2 games and the last 2 not so much whereas Brown was very good last night and has been pretty consistent throughout preseason. i hate to see either of these guys let go....hope they can survive on the PS!

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PatrickGB's picture

September 02, 2017 at 08:14 am

It's too bad that Waters was injured. According to Witt he had Tramon like skills. He might have been pretty good. This year I prefer Brown. But the coaches are seeing these guys every day so I expect the best men win a spot on the team.

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