Sports

Breaking down the 53-man roster

Labor Day is in the rearview mirror, which means the 2018 NFL regular season is officially upon us. The league transaction wire was frenzied over the holiday weekend as teams whittled their camp rosters down to 53. For the Packers, that process included a few surprises, both in who was cut and who is sticking around. Let’s take a position-by-position look at where the Packers stand as of Tuesday morning.

Quarterback (3): Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle

After Brett Hundley was traded to Seattle last week, word started circulating that Green Bay may not be able to sneak Boyle on to the practice squad due to rising interest from teams around the league. Apparently, the Packers are high enough on the undrafted rookie to enter the season with three quarterbacks on the roster, though, not surprisingly, Kizer is officially listed as the backup to Rodgers.

Running Back (3): Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery, Darius Jackson

The initial 53-man roster included only Williams and Montgomery, with Jackson being signed off the Cowboys’ practice squad on Monday. Green Bay is no doubt thinner than they’d like to be here, at least until Aaron Jones returns from suspension after week two. Fellow second-year back Devante Mays was placed on the reserve/injured list.

Tight End (4): Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Lance Kendricks, Robert Tonyan

While free agent signings Graham and Lewis were always considered locks, some questioned whether the Packers could save themselves some money by cutting Kendricks and holding on to Tonyan, who earned a roster spot with a very productive preseason. Graham and Lewis will lead the group from a pass-catching standpoint, and it’s fair to assume Kendricks will be asked to contribute at the H-back position in the running game since the team chose not to carry a fullback on the active roster.

Wide Receiver (7): Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis, J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown

One of the more interesting initial decisions the Packers made was to carry eight receivers, with burgeoning camp hero Jake Kumerow later being placed on the reserve/injured list with a shoulder injury that kept him out of the final two preseason games. Adams, Cobb and Allison were locks all along, and it was commonly assumed that Green Bay would keep all three of its rookie draft picks. Trevor Davis was surrounded by question marks all offseason–to the point it was reported the team was shopping him over the weekend–but it would seem his value on special teams ultimately garnered him a spot.

Offensive Line (9): Corey Linsley, David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga, Jason Spriggs, Byron Bell, Justin McCray, Lane Taylor, Alex Light, Lucas Patrick

There weren’t necessarily any huge surprises here. Concerns definitely remain when it comes to the depth behind the first unit, as just about every backup on the roster was shaky at times during the preseason. The Packers seem to be hopeful they’ll have a healthy starting group for the majority of the year. If they don’t, things could get interesting.

Defensive Line (5): Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Muhammad Wilkerson, Dean Lowry, Montravious Adams

New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will rely on this group to not only stop the run, but get after opposing quarterbacks as well. Pound for pound, this might be the strongest group top to bottom on the team, especially with the addition of Wilkerson and the upward trajectory of Clark. Adams probably still has some work to do to make a name for himself and earn reps, but he has shown glimpses of what prompted the team to draft him in 2017.

Inside Linebacker (5): Blake Martinez, Oren Burks, Antonio Morrison, Korey Toomer, James Crawford

The Packers will be relying on Morrison and Toomer, neither of whom were on the roster at the beginning of camp, to provide an impact alongside Martinez, at least until Burks returns from a shoulder injury. With Jake Ryan lost for the season to a torn ACL, the depth at inside linebacker was a question mark anyway, but now the stakes are fairly high. It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see Mike Pettine skew towards packages that take a linebacker off the field and utilize the sudden depth he has in the secondary.

Outside Linebacker (4): Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Reggie Gilbert, Kyler Fackrell

If the Packers keeping just four players at outside linebacker seems like a gamble, that’s because it is. Matthews and Perry have both shown a propensity for missing games throughout their careers. Gilbert has continually shown an ability to affect the game and has earned a larger role. Fackrell, on the other hand, is a bit of a head-scratcher. General manager Brian Gutekunst and the coaching staff must think there is some kind of untapped potential there, but Fackrell hasn’t shown anything to this point that says he can be counted on to provide a significant impact on the field. Fackrell making the team is even more surprising when you consider the Packers decided to part ways with former fourth-round pick Vince Biegel.

Cornerback (5): Tramon Williams, Davon House, Kevin King, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson

Herb Waters was also on the initial 53 before being waived to make room for Darius Jackson. Green Bay’s cornerback room is flush with talent, and it’s going to be extremely interesting to see how playing time is divvied up among the five. Williams will almost certainly start on one boundary, but after that things get competitive. Rookies Alexander and Jackson have the potential to be stars, while King looks to bounce back from a shoulder injury that hampered his rookie campaign in 2017. House will provide veteran depth and may be asked to contribute more in the early-going, until the team gets a firm grasp on where the rookies are stacking up.

Safety (5): HaHa Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice, Josh Jones, Jermaine Whitehead, Raven Greene

Clinton-Dix and Brice are your starters and will likely be asked to play the vast majority of snaps. After an up and down rookie year, Jones still seems to fit in more in a hybrid linebacker role, while Whitehead and Greene will probably fill special teams roles more than anything. As deep as the Packers are at corner, the safety room could get dicey if Clinton-Dix misses any extended time.

Special Teams (3): Mason Crosby, JK Scott, Hunter Bradley

A 12th-year kicker, who happens to be the all-time leading scorer in franchise history, and two rookies comprise the specialist room. Scott awed reporters and fans alike with his booming punts throughout camp, and Bradley is a rare long-snapping draft pick.

Practice Squad: C Austin Davis, CB Tony Brown, DL Tyler Lancaster, DL James Looney, FB Joe Kerridge, OL Adam Pankey, LB Kendall Donnerson, LB Greer Martini, RB Joel Bouagnon, S Marwin Evans

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