With one preseason game in the books, the Packers roster now starts to take some semblance of shape. Granted, we have only seen glimpses of the roster, but now we have the capacity to make some judgments about the players that are a part of camp. After one victory, here are the last five Packers on the roster, and the first five looking on from free agency
LAST FIVE IN
RB JOHN CROCKETT #38
This is a tough battle between Crockett, Rajion Neal, and Alonzo Harris, and while each of them showed flashes of the talent that got them to Green Bay, Crockett offers an element that makes him the prohibitive favorite to be the third running back: his hands. Harris had the touchdown run, but Crockett’s pass catching ability sets him apart and will give him the opportunity to carve a niche as a third down screen back. Eddie Lacy and James Starks are solid receivers, but Crockett is a natural in this aspect of the game and is already the best receiving back on the roster.
DL BRUCE GASTON #99
Gaston is a roster player only because of the legal troubles of Letroy Guion and Datone Jones. But for one game at least he should get a shot to prove that he belongs in this league. He was on the team for a couple of weeks last season but never active and he showed why during the New England game, continually disrupting the line of scrimmage. He also is purely a 3-4 end like Jones which will help him out for the opener.
RB AARON RIPKOWSKI #22
This is a tough decision for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. Should they keep two fullbacks in a league where the position is dying? That question may have been answered on Thursday when Ripkowski was the best player on the field during special teams plays. He made a couple of nice tackles and was consistently in his lanes forcing returners to change their direction into the coverage. If he can play like that, he will have a roster spot.
OL MATT ROTHERAM #74
This is a pick based on potential, which the Packers can do with the abundance of talent on the offensive line. Rotheram is too talented to make it through waivers, so he makes the roster here. A mauler at tackle but nimble enough to play guard, he is everything Lane Taylor looked like he could be a couple of years ago, but he has shown improvement after fighting injury early in camp.
WR JARED ABBREDERIS #84
I’m too stubborn here, and Abbrederis is for sure looking at a long road ahead to make this team, but with Myles White struggling once the lights went on, this could be a possibility, if Abby can make it onto the field at some point in the next couple of days. White was always more of a practice hero in his three years, and Jeff Janis is still raw, so Abbrederis’s hands and football IQ is what will give him a chance. But if he misses any more time he is toast.
FIRST FIVE OUT
WR MYLES WHITE #19
Again, this is partly my stubbornness writing, but White needed to impress with the second stringers on Thursday and he didn’t. He dropped a couple of catchable balls and while he was a solid route runner, his biggest play was a body catch, which is an issue for smaller receivers. White is currently the favorite for the sixth receiver spot if they keep one open, but he needs to step up in games now, not just practice.
DL KHYRI THORNTON #94
This was a toss-up between Thornton and Gaston, but one solid drive does not a roster make for the former third round pick. After a vanishing act last camp and a slow start this year, Thornton finally showed some sort of talent during a second half drive, but he needs to continue that progression. He still might make the team for a week or two if Guion’s suspension holds.
S CHRIS BANJO #32
Caught in a numbers game, Banjo just misses the cut despite being a solid special teams player. He had a good game Thursday with some strong tackling and a good head for the game, but with the emergence of LaDarius Gunter making him an almost lock, Banjo is the guy who is shuffled out.
RB RAJION NEAL #34
Neal’s experience gives him a lead in the third running back race, and he showed some burst against New England. The only problem is that he looks like the same player as James Starks, while guys like Crockett and Harris offer a little more of a variation for the offense. It’s more of a case of Crockett being a better fit as a receiving back than Neal, but hopefully the practice squad keeps him in Green Bay for another year and another shot.
TE KENNARD BACKMAN #86
Ted Thompson doesn’t usually cut draft picks, but the steady play of Justin Perillo makes Backman the only member of the 2015 class to not make the roster. A talented player, Backman will hopefully make it to the practice squad, but he’s simply not ready for an NFL roster. He has shown flashes but has mostly struggled in practices and games with his hands and routes, something that was a strength at UAB.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.