Samori Toure on the Outside Looking In

Can Samori Toure make his case for a roster spot in a highly competitive WR room?

In the 2022 offseason, the Green Bay Packers made it known that they were turning a page at the wide receiver position. They traded away one of the top-5 best receivers in the league, Davante Adams, and let Marquez Valdes-Scantling go in free agency. Adams and Valdes-Scantling were two of the Packers' top receivers the previous season, so this was a big deal. They followed it up by drafting three receivers to add to their receiver competition. They chose Christian Watson in the second round, Romeo Doubs in the fourth, and Samori Toure in the seventh. With the only true competition snap-wise to the rookies being Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, all three rookies had a good chance of contributing in 2022.

Christian Watson stood out leading the team with seven touchdown catches, while Romeo Doubs ranked fourth on the team in receiving yards with 425 along with three touchdowns. Samori Toure didn't see a lot of action being on the bottom of the depth chart, but he still managed five catches for 82 yards and a nice touchdown off a 37-yard bomb from Aaron Rodgers. As far as Toure goes, this wasn't too terrible considering he was the lowest draft pick amongst the three rookies. But following 2022, more veteran receivers left. Lazard and Cobb both headed for New York along with Aaron Rodgers. So, to fill the void, Brian Gutekunst doubled down on his WR investments by drafting three more receivers in 2023. Jayden Reed in the second round, Dontayvion Wicks in the fourth, and then Grant DuBose in the seventh. 

DuBose spent the season on the practice squad, but Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks each had great rookie seasons. Bo Melton and Malik Heath also stood out a bit towards the end of the season earning themselves a shot at a roster spot in 2024 without a doubt. That leaves the Packers with eight legitimate contenders for the Packers receiver's group in 2024. Traditionally, only about 5-6 receivers are kept. Outside of Grant DuBose who didn't play a regular season game, Samori Toure had the lowest receiving totals, making him expendable in a way if roster cuts were to have happened immediately following the 2023 season. Considering Grant DuBose was hurt for a chunk of training camp which didn't allow him to ever see the field, he may get a fair shot at a roster spot next year. 

But with Toure doing this for the second straight season without much improvement, Toure is on the outside looking in. 

He's still on the team?

When OTA's began, during the first practice open to the media, Jordan Love hit Samori Toure down the left sideline for a 60-yard touchdown during a 7-on-7 drill. While normally this would make Toure look good, it partially did the opposite. Sure, it was highlight-worthy, but some of the commentary on the play trended in the direction of some people not realizing Toure was still on the team.  While it's a tad embarrassing, it's unfortunately not a surprise. Eight catches on eighteen targets for only 78 yards? That's pretty forgettable for a second-year receiver. Meanwhile, Malik Heath who went undrafted came in and took snaps and targets away from Toure on his way to 15 catches on 24 targets for 125 yards and a touchdown. Bo Melton, a fellow 2022 seventh-round pick, also took targets away from Toure on his way to 16 catches on 24 targets for 218 yards and a touchdown. The guy spending his 2nd year on the offense was out-shined by two guys who were essentially depth signings in year 1 with the team. Toure needs to do better.

When entering the draft, it was boasted that Toure had solid athleticism and played with good play speed.  He was also pushed as a good route runner. We've seen glimpses of this in the past, but recently, it's failed. Either that, or he gets open but can't hold on to the football and ends up with a drop or miscommunication with his QB. 

As we enter 2024, it's for sure that the Packers are going to have a tight wide receiver's room. Toure does not have the recent regular season and playoff success to take back to the coaches, to push his case. However, a strong showing in camp and preseason would toss all of that out the window. He's going to need to break out if he intends to beat out Heath, Melton, and DuBose. But, it's not out of the realm of possibility. 

 

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Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to CheeseheadTV as well as PackersTalk. Follow him on Twitter @gmeinholz for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.

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Comments (47)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
stockholder's picture

June 09, 2024 at 08:05 am

This is a very well written article.
But Toure is done as a packer.
What cost Toure?
Randall Cobb.
He was the guy for the slot.
And Gute then drafted Reed.
Toure bulked up, but I believe it still cost him.
(His ability to catch and hang on !)
And Maybe even some mobility.
Still- I doubt he can flash enough.
And will be cut.

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LeotisHarris's picture

June 09, 2024 at 08:39 am

Agreed.

Nice article, Greg.

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NFLfan's picture

June 09, 2024 at 08:41 am

I remember Rodgers calling him 'Captain Casual.'
Does that translate into a bit too lackadaisical?

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Grandfathered's picture

June 09, 2024 at 08:47 am

I don't remember the drops or miscommunication. I was rooting for him since before Rogers called him "Mr. Casual", Last year Toure started out with more playing time and then tapered off into an afterthought, but Health also lost snaps to Melton towards the end also, and I thought Health looked like a weaker option. I would say the sixth roster spot, if there is one, is still between Toure, Heath and DuBose.

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mnbadger's picture

June 09, 2024 at 10:13 am

IMO- Heath is he best of the 3.
He competes hard for everything which really shows up when he's blocking.
GPG!

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HarryHodag's picture

June 09, 2024 at 08:52 am

It's far too early to be making 'calls' on the roster. Last year's hit could be this year's dud and vice versa. Toure has been in the offense for two full years. He should be making more plays. But we should never forget there's only one football and lots of hands wanting it. He will have to impress during training camp/pre-season or there is a good chance the Packers will move on. But I can't help but think Watson will again be laid up so Toure might stick to cover injuries.

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Coldworld's picture

June 09, 2024 at 09:46 am

Toure is the next man up on the 90 behind Melton if Watson were out. Last year we oddly tried to use Reed outside despite Melton emerging. Melton has a better perimeter background/skillset match and the truly elite speed: neither have the size of course. In OTAs we seem to have realized that. If Watson were out then Toure would become the obvious next man up to back up everyone except perhaps the Wicks role. When Watson is out particularly, Melton on the field with Reed just increases our options to stretch defenses.

The question is, will that be enough to earn a roster spot? Can he do enough to show that he would be better value than Heath/Dubose, which in part depends on whether they think Kraft or Sims/Davis and Kraft can expand into that “Lazard” type role enough as well. Kraft has to get healthy and we need others to remain so, of course.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that writing people off pre camp, even pre-mini camp is plain daft. Players sometimes take big steps between seasons. Toure, Rhyan, Myers, Rochell, Wilson and others among returning players could easily upset our preconceptions, in either direction. Thats part of the fun of the summer, even without considering the possibility that one of the rookies this year will break out beyond expectations, as Valentine did last year.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 11, 2024 at 03:03 am

Excellent points and as about as realistic as one should be. Why downvote this?

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Coldworld's picture

June 09, 2024 at 09:21 am

Toure profiles most closely in the Doubs role or slot. Doubs was a starter from the outset and we persisted with Cobb in his first year. By year 2 we had brought in Reed for the slot, Doubs remained the starter and then we saw Melton emerge. Melton is just more gifted athletically and seems to now be putting it together on field.

Then you have the bigger receivers. Toure is not Wicks and Wicks brings a different capability set to the team. He’s not Watson either in terms of size and speed. It’s hard to argue that Toure is better than Doubs, Reed or Melton athletically or in their specific roles. He’s therefore suffered from the success we have had drafting. He was, till Melton emerged, the obvious game day option to be next up if one got hurt at most positions. That changed with Melton eventually being given a chance and then taking it.

Melton increasingly took snaps from any WR other than Reed, Doubs, Wicks and likely a healthy Watson. That left Toure sitting and the only exception was when we wanted an enforcer in to block. That became less attractive as Kraft took on a bigger role and Melton increased offensive options. The result was much less Heath too. Toure was a guy without a role as a result.

Heath and Dubose are the physical type Xs. Lazard types who can win with physicality while lacking elite speed or burst. DuBose is going to get a chance to beat Heath, but I don’t see both being active. Neither is a great fit athletically for other WR roles and they are extremely similar in terms of play style and attributes. We likely keep one, but that role will be limited.

If health does not factor, Reed, Wicks, Watson, Doubs and Melton will be our first 5. We then keep one of Heath or Dubose. Thats your 6, and that may be all we roster. However, if anyone in the top 5 is hurt, then Toure is likely the beneficiary.

In reality, that may be the only way he makes the roster because we are going to have enough of a challenge getting enough snaps for the first 5 and I suspect some WR snaps will go to TEs as well. Heath and Dubose have to prove they can add more than a 2nd or 3rd TE as well. Thats not necessarily a given this year.

I think Toure just needs a chance to play in a settled role, but I can’t argue with the reason that didn’t occur last year. He is simply the victim of good drafting (Reed & Wicks) and acquisition (Melton—originally picked ahead of Toure by Seattle). Sometimes that happens. I don’t agree at all with the aspersions that Toure’s route running and catching declined, which I think lacks any empirical basis. He simply got surpassed.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 09, 2024 at 09:25 am

maybe he can learn to kick off?

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Coldworld's picture

June 09, 2024 at 09:49 am

If I were him, Heath or Dubose, I’d have been working like crazy on STs. None of these have been a factor on STs thus far. They should see the need to be.

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Earl-Louis's picture

June 09, 2024 at 11:54 am

Good post.

I don’t know that he would be that attractive to other teams. He may end up on the practice squad giving good depth for the attrition of a 17 game (plus playoffs) season.

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GregC's picture

June 09, 2024 at 12:34 pm

I agree that there is no basis in fact, as far as I know, for claims that Toure's catching and route running have been poor, but he hasn't really done anything that has stood out. Heath has a physical style and an attitude that definitely stands out, and Melton is very fast and just looks really natural out there, at least for a #5 receiver. With Toure, there is nothing to really hang your hat on, certainly not that I've seen in games, and I've never heard it from the reporters who watch the practices. Toure is a 7th round pick who's played like a 7th round pick, which means that at best he is at the edge of the roster bubble. If there are no injuries to the other wide receivers and Toure does not make the team, maybe he can play for the Bears.

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mnbadger's picture

June 09, 2024 at 01:52 pm

wr-1
GPG!

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 09, 2024 at 07:37 pm

His size and 3-cone point to him possibly making a living as mainly backup slot player. The problem is the Packers(and quite a few other teams) like to rotate quite a few players in and out of the slot position.

I think of Watson and Wicks as more of the X players than Heath or Dubose because teams will hesitate to press either one, for different reasons.

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Spock's picture

June 09, 2024 at 09:33 am

Odds for Toure don't look particularly good, but if he "puts in the work" (As Nagler would say) he's got a chance. Boy, this season the annual gnashing of teeth by Packer fans over which WR would "for sure" get snatched off the PS by another team might actually have some merit!

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Leatherhead's picture

June 09, 2024 at 09:50 am

EQ Brown was also often on the outside looking in, he never really did a lot with the Packers. He missed one year entirely, and in the other 3 combined for 37 receptions . It wasn't because he couldn't play, it was just that the other guys ahead of him were doing the job. Adams, MVS, Lazard, etc.

Toure has a real uphill battle unless people get injured in training camp, and I suspect he won't make our 53 man roster, but he will make somebody's.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 09, 2024 at 01:51 pm

EQ never did anything particularly well. He was a competent player, but that was it. Did he do anything with the Bears (I guess that comparison isn't fair, being that it was the Bears, and they suck)

Toure may make another 53, but there are a lot of talented guys who wash out of the league. Dreams vanquished.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 09, 2024 at 02:06 pm

A competent player. I'll take that.

He's almost 28. He's played for the Packers, then Bears, now the Saints. He's made about $5M. If each of the 32 teams has 6 WRs, that's almost 200 jobs and he's been around the block enough times that he knows how to fill one of those spots.

If he can schlepp around the league this year and next, he'll probably have about $8M in earnings by the time he's 30. Not bad for his first job out of college.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 09, 2024 at 03:40 pm

Something Toure can aspire to: keep your head down, work hard, make an occasional play, stay in the league.

Another benefit that I think he already made it to is being vested. You get a certain amount of additional years of insurance if you make it thru year 3 I think.

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LeotisHarris's picture

June 09, 2024 at 04:02 pm

Yes, vested in the pension plan after three credited seasons, and eligible for up to five years of post-career heath insurance. There's also an annuity plan after three seasons.

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 09, 2024 at 07:02 pm

I don't think they earn vesting credit while on the practice squad. IIRC they have to be on the active roster for a certain number of games to earn a seasons credit.

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Packman60's picture

June 09, 2024 at 10:27 am

Toure is likely showcasing himself to be picked up by another team when he's cut or looking at the Packers practice squad. They may only keep 5 if they feel going deeper at other positions is more important. The top 5 are pretty much locked in.

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ricky's picture

June 09, 2024 at 10:56 am

This is the way of the NFL. This is why the average "career" in the league is about three years. Because unless you are a QB or show yourself to be really good in your first or second year, you become another statistic, a vague memory. This happens every year. For us fans, we hope the guy makes it, but if he doesn't, we move on and pull for the team to win. And we forget the shattered dreams, the hard work and hours of preparation that went into trying for a shot at the top rung.

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 09, 2024 at 07:18 pm

That's not exactly true. There are players like Lawrence Guy that float around for a few years before finding a home as a nominal starter for years. He started four games in his 1st four years before sticking with Baltimore and then New England. He made a little more than $3.5 million his 1st six seasons and is now over $30 million in career earnings.

Maybe he's not a normal case but there's been enough "he's still in the league?" ex Packer players that makes me think it's not super rare either.

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cdoemel's picture

June 10, 2024 at 04:19 pm

And Keisan and Rasul

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NFLfan's picture

June 09, 2024 at 12:28 pm

I still think something happened during OTA's/ Minicamp that made Rodgers refer to him as 'Captain Casual'. It's an attitude; an attitude a rookie has not earned. it can cause a QB and coach to not trust that a player will do the necessary work. Neither Watson nor Doubs would ever be called 'Captain Casual'. Doubs is 'Mr. Ernest', etc.

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Packers0808's picture

June 09, 2024 at 12:44 pm

Rodgers just a affront with rookies and trust and by this it seems dementia was setting on on Rodgers with his weirdness the last 5 years or so! Look what happened to him and Watson because he dropped the long ball in first game.

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MainePackFan's picture

June 09, 2024 at 01:47 pm

" Look what happened to him and Watson because he dropped the long ball in first game."

Yes, they went on to have a pretty successful connection. Watson couldn't stay healthy, I'm sure that's what you're referring to. Or perhaps you are inferring that Rodgers' dementia and weirdness caused Watson's balky hamstrings. Either way, your RDS is duly noted :)

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Leatherhead's picture

June 09, 2024 at 02:17 pm

I think he's referring to the fact that Rodgers didn't throw it to him after that drop. All I can offer is that anecdotally, that's kind of the way it looked to me at the time, too.

According to pro-football-reference:

The Packers (Rodgers) didn't target Watson much as a rookie, especially the first half of the season. He also had 3 inactives, Halfway through the season, he had 14 targets and 10 catches and no receiving TDs.

That changed in mid-November against the Cowboys, and in the final 8 games he was targeted 52 times, caught 31 of them, and caught 9 TD passes.

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MainePackFan's picture

June 09, 2024 at 02:42 pm

LH. Watson was targeted 3 more times after that missed catch in the first game. In the second game he caught 3 passes on 3 atts. and was hurt. He missed the next game. when he came back, he was limited to 18 snaps in both games. He missed the next two games due to injury. In week 8 he played 8 snaps. In week 9 he played 17 snaps and caught both passes thrown to him. Obviously, he still wasn't right physically

In week 10, all hell broke loose, and the party was on. Rodgers was not ignoring Watson because he missed that first pass. Watson wasn't available.

It's just another BS narrative that plays well with the RDS crowd :)

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Packers0808's picture

June 09, 2024 at 03:57 pm

BS my foot Rodgers even chirped out to Watson, if you want to catch passes you have to run the right routes. If I remember that right it was against the Rams after Rodgers threw wide to Watson.f That wasn't the first and only time Rodgers did shit like that not only to Watson. Rodgers got big headed.

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MainePackFan's picture

June 09, 2024 at 05:56 pm

Again, your statement lacks context. Rodgers did make a statement in general regarding rookie receivers. He didn't single out anyone. What he didn't do is purposefully not throw the ball to Watson because Watson is a rookie that dropped the first pass as your post inferred.

Most of Rodgers receivers were rookies in 2022. It's not like he had a choice. To say he didn't throw the ball to them because they dropped a pass is nonsense. Both Watson and Doubs had solid rookie seasons with Rodgers as their QB.

It's clear that you don't like Rodgers and that's fine, you have plenty of folks in here that will support your comments because they share your disdain. They will upvote you and downvote me. I'm fine with that. I can read the room. At the end of the day, your statement was not based on facts and that's why I responded.

The past is the past. It's a new generation. Dumping on the past is fruitless conversation. It's 2024, and Jordan Love rocks!!! GPG!!!!

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 09, 2024 at 07:25 pm

Gotta love people that downvote the truth. You go boys! Guess the wanted Rodgers to toss it to him while he was on the bench.

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Packers0808's picture

June 09, 2024 at 03:59 pm

First paragraph yup.

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Packers0808's picture

June 09, 2024 at 04:00 pm

What the heck is RDS crowd. Missed that one some where along the line.

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MainePackFan's picture

June 09, 2024 at 06:15 pm

Lol. It's a covid-related affliction. Fortunately, in time everyone will recover as the memories fade and history corrects the narrative.

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 09, 2024 at 07:28 pm

I'm not so sure about that. Today Lindsey Graham said D-Day was a failure so....🤷

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MainePackFan's picture

June 10, 2024 at 05:20 am

lol. Lindsey's still living off the one moment of clarity he had during the Kavanaugh confirmation.

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bossofallbosses's picture

June 09, 2024 at 01:49 pm

The sixth spot is very interesting this year. Toure is just a guy at this point as every other team has a guy like Toure as he just doesn't stand out at all. Heath did some nice things especially in the Giants game but isn't a lock. They acquired some undrafted guys but so far nothing really popping in OTA's. The sixth spot is qide open.

I wonder if GB is considering a one year cheap deal for Hunter Renfro. He's a couple years removed from his 100 catch 1k+ yard season. Adams joining the team, a new coach that didn't utilize him and a couple injuries lowered his production over the last couple seasons. He's only 28 years old and didn't have a major injury. I think on a cheap one year deal he can be a great vet 6th man and spot fill in for injuries to be a reliable underneath guy to bail out Love.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 09, 2024 at 01:55 pm

There really is no such thing as "just a guy" in the NFL. You're one of 1200 (200 of which are wideouts) on a planet of 8.05 billion, which leads toward you being pretty exceptional. Even the hangers-on in the NFL are unique in the world.

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GregC's picture

June 09, 2024 at 04:00 pm

I don't think the sixth spot is wide open. I think it is Heath's to lose, and so far I don't see anyone who's likely to challenge him.

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dobber's picture

June 10, 2024 at 07:56 am

I'm just hoping 1-5 make it through camp in one piece.

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dobber's picture

June 10, 2024 at 07:58 am

Some teams will be keeping one or maybe two Toures on their final 53.

Some teams will have 5-6 WR as good--if not better or with much higher upside--than Toure.

I don't see any good reason to buy into the "swipe left" crap media that wants to sell Hunter Renfrow to the Packers.

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cdoemel's picture

June 10, 2024 at 04:27 pm

The reason I don’t like the Renfro thing is it will keep a young, promising player like Heath or Dubose (which we really know nothing about yet), from getting reps. I really don’t know much about the personnel of other teams, but it’s certainly been a very long time since the Packers have had five wide receivers as capable as these top five.

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PackfanNY's picture

June 10, 2024 at 06:50 am

The Packers “seemingly” have good depth. That’s great to have. However, we haven’t hit camp yet. Injuries do happen. Personally I want to see what Grant Dubose brings to the table. His tape from the Draft was good and I thought he was a sleeper. Then he got injured and so he never made it . Need to wait to see what happens

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TXCHEESE's picture

June 10, 2024 at 10:02 am

So true concerning injuries. Those usually are a big factor on the final 53. When it comes down to the depth chart, ST performance is a big factor on who makes it and who moves on, or is placed on the PS.

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