With the third preseason game of the 2017 season on the horizon in the thin air of Denver, the Packers are in both an envious and terrible spot. There are well over 53 guys currently on the roster who can play in the NFL and play well, but for some it will be somewhere else.
That makes the end of the roster, or the roster bubble, a knock-down drag-it-out fight between a few select guys who really need to perform this third week to solidify a roster spot. A good performance can help them make the team, but a poor one might just punch their ticket off the roster. Here are four guys in this very position.
CB LaDarius Gunter
Gunter has been a useful player over the past two years. Serviceable as a boundary corner, he was unfairly labeled as the #1 guy last year by the virtue of being the only one with four working limbs. And that didn’t go well. His lack of speed will always be a detriment to his game, but he is a willing tackler with good technique and toughness. But that might not be enough anymore. Both Josh Hawkins and Lenzy Pipkins have been very good this camp and in the first two preseason games that Gunter might fall to #7 on the cornerback depth chart, which might not be enough to make the team. He needs to show that his physicality will still play on this team against the physical receivers in Denver.
ILB Joe Thomas
This is my pick for a surprise cut in 2017. Thomas is a good hybrid player. He has good speed, coverage ability, and he can pack a punch for his size. But there might not be a spot for him anymore with Morgan Burnett and Josh Jones playing more in the Nitro package at inside linebacker. And with the emergence of a guy like Marwin Evans at safety, that could make either Burnett or Jones essentially a permanent in the box player, which makes Thomas redundant. Thomas has already been cut before in his career back when he was a rookie before he found his way back to Lambeau, but unless he proves that his coverage ability is absolutely needed, that might be his fate again.
DT Brian Price
Price came into last season as one of the more hyped undrafted free agent signings, and he had a very good camp before spending most of the season on the practice squad. Now, a year later here he is and nothing has changed. He has again had a nice camp and has shown the potential to be a good run stopping tackle with push the pocket capability, but in a numbers game, it’s either, him, Christian Ringo (who has been better in games), or neither. Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, and Ricky Jean-Francois are locks. And Ringo showed up in a big way last week. It’s Price’s time to avoid another year on the practice squad.
OL Kofi Amichia
The lone draft pick on this list, Amichia was drafted as a project. An athletic specimen who was a left tackle mainstay for South Florida, Kofi was moved inside to left guard in camp while also cross-training at center. But it’s been a struggle. Routinely manhandled in the run game while also showing tentativeness in pass protection, Amichia is a nice project for the future, but for a team in Super Bowl contention, Amichia has to show something that makes him stand out above guys like Lucas Patrick or Geoff Gray, and he hasn’t done that yet. He is a lock for the practice squad at minimum, but someone of his potential could still make a run with a nice performance in Denver.——————
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.