With the labor situation now settled and the preseason games winding down, Green Bay Packer management is going to have some serious decisions to make shortly as they cull the squad down in preparation for a repeat of last year’s championship run. The Packers have a very talented roster and it will be tough for all but a handful or two of new players to make the team.
Let’s take a look at the new candidates likely to fill an opening-day roster spot. All of the players drafted last spring have shown promising signs and/or flashed NFL potential with the possible exceptions of sixth round pick Ricky Elmore and seventh rounder, Lawrence Guy. First round pick Derek Sherrod was given a chance at left guard but he quickly proved to be better suited to left tackle which he played in college. It appears that he will back up Chad Clifton and should be a nice fit to eventually replace him.
Second round pick Randall Cobb was off to a great start until injuries slowed him down. Alex Green, Davon House and D.J. Williams, our third through fifth-round picks, have shown that they might have starting caliber talent, but none of these guys are expected to start just yet. In fact, due to the depth the Packers have across the board, there are no starting positions open at this time. That makes things a little less interesting for Cheeseheads, but at the same time, it is a nice problem to have.
Third-year player T.J. Lang won the starting job over Sherrod at left guard. If he can recover from injuries Cobb could be a good punt returner this year. Green may get his chance returning kickoffs and as a “third down” running back. House and Williams will be way down the depth chart in their respective positions due to the talent depth at cornerback and tight end.
Perhaps the biggest surprise amongst the drafted rookies has been the performance of tight end Ryan Taylor. Like Williams, if he makes the squad he will likely be the fourth or maybe even fifth tight end. Taylor, who was drafted in the seventh round, has linebacker “mentality” which translates nicely into a very good special teams performer, something the Packers do need.
Of the undrafted rookies, two have risen above the crowd, Vic So’oto and Jamari Lattamore. Both played defensive end in college and are being tried at outside linebacker with the Packers. Both have looked good so far. So’oto is a big, strong guy and Lattamore is smaller but quick. Either or both might just make the team given the broken clavicle which recently sidelined Frank Zombo.
It is possible Ted Thompson may pick up another player off some other team’s waiver wire. He has done that in the past following the final cuts. One position he might try to solidify in this manner is defensive end. Cullen Jenkins exited in free agency and his replacement, Mike Neal, has an injury history and is currently hurting.
Roster cuts are always interesting and so it will be again this year. Hard to believe the season has almost arrived. The World Champion Green Bay Packers (that sounds so nice) open the season at Lambeau on Thursday night, September 8, against the New Orleans Saints.