Thompson not worried about roster cuts
Ted Thompson hates roster prediction stories.
The Green Bay Packers general manager groused last week how such articles are tough on certain players and what those types of stories can do to the mental psyche of young players.
“I've seen young guys read the newspaper and all of a sudden they're depressed because a sportswriter has them not making the final roster,” Thompson moaned. “I know you have to do that, and I know people are interested in that, but it's not accurate and I kind of feel bad for the guys that have to read that.”
Real sympathy won't be needed until the general manager starts sending players home and sets his final 53-man roster.
The Packers must cut their roster to 75 players by 3 p.m. (CST) Aug. 26. Green Bay then must trim its roster to 53 by 5 p.m. Aug. 30.
The following day, the Packers can establish an eight-man practice squad.
So with training camp nearing the halfway point, Packer Plus takes a stab at what Green Bay's final 53 will look like—much to Thompson's chagrin, of course.
Keep: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien.
Cut: Chase Rettig.
Summary: The last time Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster was 2008. That was Rodgers' first year as a starter, and then-rookies Flynn and Brian Brohm were kept as insurance. When Rodgers missed nearly two months with a broken collarbone last season, the Packers learned how vital depth is at this spot. Flynn, who helped save Green Bay's 2013 season, has had another solid summer. Tolzien has an impressive mix of experience, arm strength and upside. And if Thompson sent Tolzien packing, someone else would quickly snatch him up. Look for Green Bay to alter its approach at the game's most vital position and keep three quarterbacks.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
Keep: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris, John Kuhn.
Cut: Rajion Neal,Michael Hill, LaDarius Perkins, Ina Liaina.
Summary: Green Bay's trio of Lacy-Starks-Harris would be its best since the Ahman Green-Najeh Davenport-Tony Fisher threesome in 2003. Lacy has quickly become one of the NFL's top five backs, while Starks could start in some cities. Harris, who missed all of 2013 with a knee injury, provides a nice change of pace. His value also increases thanks to his kick-return abilities. Neal, an undrafted free agent who ran for more than 1,800 yards in his final two years at Tennessee, has been one of the surprises of camp. The Packers would probably be giddy to sneak him onto the practice squad.
WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
Keep: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, Myles White.
Injured reserve: Jared Abbrederis
Cut: Kevin Dorsey, Alex Gillett, Chris Harper, Jeff Janis, Gerrard Sheppard.
Summary: The top four are set in stone. Then it gets tricky. Abbrederis was the odds-on favorite to be No. 5 before tearing his ACL in the first week of camp. That opened the door for someone like White (6 feet, 182 pounds), who caught nine passes in seven games a year ago. Dorsey (6-1, 207), a 2013 seventh-round draft choice, has also had a strong summer after missing his rookie season with a toe injury. Dorsey is also much bigger and stronger than White. Harper has all the potential in the world, but his inconsistent hands seem likely to cost him. The speedy Janis is a good bet for the practice squad.
TIGHT ENDS (4)
Keep: Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor.
Cut: Jake Stoneburner, Colt Lyerla, Justin Perillo.
Summary: Jermichael Finley, the starter here since 2009, is still out of football with a neck injury and seems unlikely to return. That's left this as the most unsettled position group on the team. The rookie Rodgers drew the start in the first preseason game and held his own. His upside is immense. The Packers have two years invested in Bostick, and seem ready to expand his role in the offense. Taylor is a fierce blocker and remains one of Green Bay's top special teams players. The wild card appears to be Quarless, who was injured the entire spring and has had a quiet camp. But the Packers have kept four tight ends every year since 2010, and even kept five in 2011. If the Packers don't stray from that philosophy, Quarless should be safe. The controversial Lyerla (knee) will likely receive an injury settlement or end up on the injured list.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
Keep: David Bakhtairi, Josh Sitton, JC Tretter, T.J. Lang, Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod, Corey Linsley, Lane Taylor.
Injured reserve: Don Barclay.
Cut: Aaron Adams, John Fullington, Garth Gerhart, Jordan McCray, Andrew Tiller, Jeremy Vujnovich.
Summary: McCarthy has raved the entire off-season that this could be the best offensive line he's fielded in his nine seasons. And after 21/2 weeks of camp, this unit has proven that's not hot air. The depth of this group was hit last week when Barclay was lost for the season with a torn ACL. But Sherrod, finally healthy from the broken leg he suffered in 2011, has had a solid summer and will be the swing tackle.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)
Keep: B.J. Raji, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd, Khyri Thornton, Letroy Guion.
Cut: Mike Pennel, Carlos Gray, Luther Robinson.
Summary: The Packers have gone younger and smaller up front. And that's left their defensive line as one the most inexperienced groups on the team. While there is great potential, the quartet of Jones, Daniels, Boyd and Thornton has just one NFL start between them.
Guion, a starter in Minnesota the last two years, has yet to practice this summer due to a hamstring injury. But his previous body of work should earn him a roster spot. Pennel, who has jumped out all summer, is a dark horse. Former Packer Jerel Worthy was traded Tuesday to the Patriots.
Keep: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Mike Neal, Nick Perry, Nate Palmer, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Carl Bradford.
Cut: Andy Mulumba, Jake Doughty, Jayrone Elliott, Adrian Hubbard, Korey Jones, Joe Thomas.
Summary: The addition of Peppers gives the Packers their best talent and depth at outside linebacker since Dom Capers arrived to run the 3-4 in 2009. Neal and Perry—both past starters at OLB—have plenty of experience. Palmer seems ahead of Mulumba for the No. 5 OLB spot. Bradford has had a painfully quiet camp, but probably survives because he was a fourth-round draft pick. The inside linebackers seem set in stone.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)
Keep: Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Casey Hayward, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Jarrett Bush, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo.
Cut: Demetri Goodson, Jumal Rolle, Charles Clay, Antonio Dennard, Tanner Miller, Ryan White.
Summary: The addition of Clinton-Dix, the growth of Hyde and the return of Hayward should help this unit improve dramatically. Green Bay's depth at cornerback is impressive. And the safety play should be markedly improved. Banjo makes the team thanks to his special teams talents. Goodson, a converted basketball player and sixth-round draft choice in April, has been overmatched most of the summer. The practice squad could be a perfect landing spot for him.
Keep: K Mason Crosby, P Tim Masthay, LS Brett Goode.
Summary: No one among this trio has a competitor in camp. So barring a major disaster, this threesome returns for a fifth straight year together.