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Packers Ready for Opener (09/07/2011)
By Dave DeLano

The roster has been determined and the 53 best football players are under contract. The stage has been set for an awesome opener Thursday night when the Green Bay Packers open their season against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau. Among the final roster cuts were a couple of mild surprises, but as we approach the regular season the Packers are loaded with talent and should have a successful season ahead of them. It should be another fun run for the Nation of Cheese.

In the final preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, linebacker Vic So’oto had an enormous game and cemented his employment as a Packer. It is unbelievable that a talented guy like this floats under the radar scope of the draft and becomes an undrafted free agent. So’oto , a converted tight end turned defensive end at Brigham Young University, was simply awesome last Thursday. He reminded me of the other guy the Packers have playing outside linebacker, Clay Matthews III. I expect So’oto to compete for considerable playing time soon this season.

Quarterback Graham Harrell was cut and that was a bit of a surprise as he had shown some abilities as a reserve. Harrell cleared waivers and was re-signed to the practice squad where he shall hopefully continue to progress and possibly serve as a backup to Aaron Rodgers in the future.

The Packers kept the unheard of number of five tight ends on the final roster. I like this move as there is tremendous talent in this group. Jermichael Finlay is an awesome talent and could have a super season if he stays healthy. Rookies Ryan Taylor and D.J. Williams might have to make their marks on special teams this year. Tom Crabtree is a road-grading blocker and Andrew Quarless has tons of untapped talent. This will be a fun group to watch develop.

Of concern is the backup depth on the offensive line where the Packers kept only eight bodies. Especially light is the backup to the two guards and the center where Evan Dietrich-Smith is the sole backup. Injuries can wreak havoc in a hurry and the protection of Aaron Rodgers has to be a Packer priority. Two interior linemen have been re-signed to the practice squad to provide insurance there.

Wide receivers Tori Gurley and Chastin West were cut but luckily cleared waivers and were re-signed to the practice squad. Both these guys looked good in preseason play and the Packers were fortunate neither were claimed by another team as they both have NFL talent. One or both of these guys might have a future in Titletown.

Now the Saints come marching into Lambeau. The Saints won the Super Bowl two years ago and have a very talented team. Drew Brees is a top-notch quarterback and rookie running back Mark Ingram gives them a potent offense. The Packer defense will have their hands full. Look for a high scoring game.  


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