Tough Days, Decisions Ahead for Thompson

The first cuts must be made in a week, with the final cut to 53 on Sept. 3. Plus, two offensive linemen get into a skirmish and more from Tuesday's practice in the Don Hutson Center.

The first mandatory cutdown, from 86 players to 80, is Tuesday, Aug. 30.

With a loaded roster, those decisions might not be too painful for Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and the coaching staff. The cut to the regular-season limit of 53 by Saturday, Sept. 3, will be much more challenging and perhaps the most difficult during Thompson's seven years running the team.

"History will have to go back and look at that," Thompson said when asked if he's ever had a camp filled with more "roster-ready" players. "I think we've had some pretty good prospects in our training camp the last several years, and the last cut was very hard to do, not only personally because you get to where you like the guys, but what we consider good players going out the door. That's the way it works."

Not only did Cullen Jenkins, Daryn Colledge, Brandon Jackson, Korey Hall, Jason Spitz and Atari Bigby depart in free agency but Nick Barnett, Brady Poppinga, Donald Lee and Derrick Martin signed elsewhere after being released.

This year, Thompson will have to wrestle with three position groups where there appears to be more NFL-caliber talent than roster spots:

— Last year, he kept two quarterbacks. With Graham Harrell, he might want to keep three.

"Not necessarily," countered Thompson in a typically vague Thompson news conference on Tuesday morning.

— Last year, he kept four tight ends. With two impressive draft picks, he might want to keep five.

— Last year, he kept five wide receivers. With Chastin West's strong preseason and camp, he might want to keep six.

"I would never comment on a specific position," Thompson said in regard to receiver and tight end. "I feel pretty good about our team in general. We're still trying to get there, but it looks pretty good so far."

— Because of Frank Zombo's broken scapula, Thompson might need to keep an extra outside linebacker for depth and special teams.

"Depending on what we do there, that'd be one option," Thompson said.

Thompson shrugged off the notion that other teams would be watching to see if there was treasure in the Packers' proverbial trash and said he'd be scouring other teams' cuts, as well.

Either way, making roster cuts is the toughest part of his job responsibility.

"We like to consider ourselves builders, and when you have to let somebody go, it's hard," Thompson said. "Especially that day when it's down to 53. That's a tough day. I can appreciate the anxiety in the kids."

Offensive linemen battle

Fights between the offense and defense are standard fare during training camp. Fights between fellow offensive linemen, however, are rare.

Two backups expected to make the roster, center Nick McDonald and tackle Marshall Newhouse, got into a brief skirmish midway through practice. Eventually, offensive line coach James Campen pulled them aside and all was well.

Campen and Newhouse wouldn't go into detail, and McDonald said only that it was a "miscommunication" and that they're "like brothers."

Guard Josh Sitton joked that he got elbowed in the stomach.

"When you're out here grinding, tempers tend to get a little short," Sitton said. "It just happens. You don't see it too often. Honestly, it's not a bad thing. It's something that happened. They shook hands on the sideline and it's over with. I'm sure it was a communication issue that turned into a little more. That just shows the two guys are passionate and care about what they're doing."

Injury updates

New injuries: LB K.C. Asiodu (shoulder), C/G Sampson Genus (turf toe).

Old injuries: WR Shaky Smithson (shoulder), WR Randall Cobb (bruised knees), S Anthony Levine (concussion), LB Frank Zombo (scapula), LB Brad Jones (knee sprain), G Adrian Battles (Achilles), T Chris Campbell (knee), DE Lawrence Guy (concussion), DE Mike Neal (knee), DE C.J. Wilson (concussion).

Returned to practice: WR Davon House (hamstring), TE Spencer Havner (hamstring), T Derek Sherrod (knee sprain).

Four-point stance

— Coach Mike McCarthy said his front-line players will play about one half of Thursday's preseason game at Indianapolis.

— Two players who probably are on the wrong side of the roster bubble are running back Dimitri Nance and tight end Spencer Havner. Nance jumped offside while on the punt return and fumbled during a ball-security drill. Havner had a false start and dropped a pass.

— Thursday's preseason game is at Indianapolis, which is the site of this season's Super Bowl. "That's your ultimate goal, but to reach your ultimate goal, you've got to take small next steps," safety Morgan Burnett said. "The next small step is getting prepared for this third preseason game."

Alex Green, the No. 1 kickoff returner on the depth chart, had a 28-yard runback against the Cardinals. "I thought that his run was good," special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said. "He delayed coming out of the end zone for a moment – we don't want to do that. But I think he's an excellent runner with the ball."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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