With the final cutdown deadline just a few short hours away, the Packers have a lot of tough decisions to make. Do they keep six receivers? How about two fullbacks? And how many corners stay on the roster.
Well, luckily I am not Ted Thompson, and neither are any of us, so we don’t have to make these decisions and speak to these players one-by-one and tell them that their dream has been dashed. But it is still a lot of fun to predict what will happen with this roster, so I will do just that. On Saturday September 5, here is my projected opening day roster for the Green Bay Packers
QB #12 Aaron Rodgers, #16 Scott Tolzien, #7 Brett Hundley ( R )
No surprises here. Rodgers is the MVP, Tolzien has acquitted himself nicely and the newest Brett to line up under center has been a revelation, statistically the best rookie QB in the NFL so far.
RB #27 Eddie Lacy, #44 James Starks, #38 John Crockett ( R )
One quick surprise here. Going into Thursday’s game I had Rajion Neal making the roster but Crockett stuck out to me while I was watching it. He had natural hands and was more powerful than expected. He showed me why he was a highly regarded free agent and squeaks by Neal.
FB #30 John Kuhn, #22 Aaron Ripkowski ( R )
Again, no shockers. Kuhn gets to go out with one final chant this season and Ripkowski will be the ultimate wedge buster on special teams.
WR #87 Jordy Nelson (IR), #18 Randall Cobb, #17 Davante Adams, #88 Ty Montgomery ( R ), #83 Jeff Janis, #19 Myles White, #84 Jared Abbrederis
Yes, I have Abbrederis making the roster. I have been championing him all of training camp, praising his intelligence and route running, while maintaining that his injuries were fluky. And, luckily, I was partially right on Thursday night. He only had one catch, but had a couple of nice punt returns and was tight with his routes. On Myles White’s first touchdown, look at the defenders who all jump on top of Abby’s well run shallow cross. The other guys were locks going into Week 4.
TE #89 Richard Rodgers, #81 Andrew Quarless, #80 Justin Perillo
Perillo to me just makes it over Kennard Backman because of one reason, his run blocking. Perillo impressed against New England before being concussed, and Backman stood out with his hands in the final three games, but every team needs that big blocking in-line tight end, and Perillo is the best that the team has.
OL #69 David Bakhtiari, #71 Josh Sitton, #63 Corey Linsley, #70 TJ Lang #75 Bryan Bulaga, #73 JC Tretter, #67 Don Barclay, #79 Josh Walker
The only newcomer to this list is Walker, who developed quickly through camp and showed good versatility and good strength at the point of attack. He will usually be inactive but is insurance in case Barclay never really recovers.
DL #76 Mike Daniels, #90 BJ Raji, #64 Mike Pennel, #93 Josh Boyd, #99 Bruce Gaston #97 Christian Ringo ( R ), #95 Datone Jones (Suspended), #98 Letroy Guion (Suspended)
Every lineman is needed with two key contributors suspended for 1 and 3 games respectively, but Gaston and Ringo both showed strong flashes. Gaston showed some solid pass rush skills and Ringo reminds me a lot of Mike Daniels. Now when the two suspended players return, some of these guys will be cut. My money’s on either Gaston or Josh Boyd, who just hasn’t really stood out in any way this camp.
LB #52 Clay Matthews, #58 Sam Barrington, #56 Julius Peppers, #53 Nick Perry, #96 Mike Neal, #91 Jayrone Elliott, #47 Jake Ryan ( R ), #55 Andy Mulumba, #51 Nate Palmer
All these linebackers will have a specific role to play, and all have shown flashes of great potential. Obviously Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers will anchor the defense. Barrington will be the new Desmond Bishop thumper in the middle, while Neal and Perry will (hopefully) stay healthy and supply power and some pass rush capabilities. Elliott will be a dynamite edge rusher, as will Mulumba, while Ryan and Palmer will play special teams and some sub packages to continue to learn.
CB #37 Sam Shields, #29 Casey Hayward, #23 Damarious Randall ( R ), #24 Quinten Rollins ( R ), #36 LaDarius Gunter ( R )
I only have five corners on the roster because of Micah Hyde’s versatility, and we’ll get to that. But Shields and Hayward are our starters, both with Pro Bowl potential, Shields for his coverage, and Hayward for his ball skills. Randall and Rollins are intriguing. The two draft picks both had moments of greatness and moments of growing pains, but the talent in undeniable. Gunter has been a prize of camp and his physical play and high football IQ make him perfect for the fifth corner.
S #21 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, #42 Morgan Burnett, #33 Micah Hyde, #28 Sean Richardson
Not having Chris Banjo on here was my hardest decision, but Richardson is the special teams leader and Banjo brings nothing else but special teams play. He is a solid guy to have but he got cut last year as well and will be on Thompson’s short list if an injury hits. Hyde, if healthy, could be an X-Factor. A swiss army knife who just makes plays, he can jump over to corner if needed and also be an in the box safety. Don’t forget Randall either if necessary, he was a safety in college.
ST #2 Mason Crosby, #8 Tim Masthay, #61 Brett Goode
No surprises here, but if Masthay continues to struggle, look for potential calls being made to Brandon Fields and Steve Weatherford.
RB #34 Rajion Neal
WR #11 Larry Pinkard
TE #86 Kennard Backman
TE #85 Mitchell Henry
OL #74 Matt Rotheram
LB #54 Carl Bradford
LB #48 Joe Thomas
LB #43 James Vaughters
CB #25 Tay Glover-Wright
S #20 Jean Fanor
All of the players on the practice squad have potential to develop into legitimate NFL players, they’re just caught in a numbers game. Even Bradford, who has disappointed, showed some potential in the last couple games.
So, by the time that 3:00 rolls around, we’ll see how much I got right. Either way, this shapes up to be a special team and an exciting season ahead, starting on Monday.——————
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.