Packers Roster Countdown Part 12

The countdown rolls on with players 31 through 35. Topping this segment is Jarrett Bush, a special-teams ace who's got a chance to be the third or fourth corner. Plus, one player who's a fan favorite and one who is not, and two players who entered the league as undrafted free agents.

As we've done in past years, we're counting down the Green Bay Packers' roster, from No. 90 to No. 1.

These rankings are not simply based on skill. Players were ranked on their importance to the team. Skill, a player's position, the depth of his position group, the odds he contributes, salary and draft history all play a part in how a player is ranked. More than the ranking itself, hopefully you will learn a little something about each of the 90 players in the process.

No. 31: Bushwhacker

Carolina probably wishes it could take a mulligan on its decision to cut an undrafted rookie by the name of Jarrett Bush in 2006.

The Packers claimed Bush off waivers, and from the minute he set foot in Green Bay, he added energy and production to the special teams. In his six seasons, Bush has 75 special-teams tackles. That doesn't include his seven in four games as the Packers won the Super Bowl.

He's also gotten smarter, with one penalty last year after six apiece in 2007 and 2008.

Bush is in contention for a bigger role on defense, too. He'll battle Sam Shields, Davon House and Casey Hayward to be the third cornerback, which could be an every-down player if Charles Woodson is moved to safety in the base defense. He's the favorite to be the dime corner, which would play in the slot and have many of the responsibilities of Woodson as far as blitzing, run stopping and coverage. Not only did he have two interceptions — bringing his career total to three — but added two sacks and missed just two tackles last year.

No. 32: No respect

James Jones joked recently that he'd have "No Respect" T-shirts made.

Understandably so, considering he's quietly scored 17 touchdowns over the last three seasons. Yes, Jones drops too many passes, with a combined 14 over the last two seasons. Last season, however, might have been a turning point in his career.

Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn posted a cumulative passer rating of 133.9 when throwing to Jones — third-best in the league behind Jordy Nelson's 150.2 and Lance Moore's 135.6. Among receivers with at least 25 receptions, Jones finished fourth in the NFL with 7.7 yards after the catch per reception and ninth by catching 70.4 percent of passes thrown his way. In 2010, those numbers were 94.8 rating, 6.2 YAC per reception and 58.8 percent completions. Also, his 16.7-yard average was 2.3 yards better than his previous career best, set as a rookie in 2007.

No. 33: Kuuuuhn

Fullback John Kuhn is the highest-paid performer among the seven running backs/fullbacks under contract. In fact, the total value of Kuhn's three-year, $7.5 million contract is worth almost three times as much as the next-highest-paid running back, Alex Green, who will earn $2.58 million over four years.

Kuhn does everything well, which is why the Packers went with one fullback last year instead of the three from 2009 and 2010. Kuhn is practically unstoppable in short-yardage situations, even though it seems like everyone in the stadium knows No. 30 is getting the ball on third-and-1 or at the goal line. Kuhn has back-to-back seasons of four rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns, and is the first running back since Ahman Green to score touchdowns rushing and receiving in four consecutive seasons.

As former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin put it: "He's instinctive. Sometimes, you sit around in the coaches' office and you draw up plays and put a pencil to all these blocking schemes, but the players are the guys that bring it to life and John's a guy that you might not get the defense thought and he still might be able to make something out of it because he's got good instincts. He can get you out of bad coaching or out of bad preparation because he's got good instincts."

No. 34: Hold on tight

We've covered Graham Harrell's ascension into the No. 2 role at quarterback several times so there's not much left to be said. He is a big question mark because he's the most inexperienced back in the NFL.

Last preseason, he led the Packers to scores on just 4-of-17 possessions (excluding a take-a-knee possession), and one of those was a drive of minus-3 yards for a field goal. He went 0-for-6 with a fumble that was returned for a touchdown at Cleveland, and had four consecutive three-and-out series at Indianapolis. However, he led the Packers to victory against the Colts by leading two scoring drives — the first, a hurry-up drive to score the tying touchdown and two-point conversion, and the second, a field goal after the Packers recovered the onside kick.

"There were some good times and bad times," Harrell said of last preseason. "One thing we did a good job on and will continue to work on is overcoming adversity. In that Colts game, we looked pretty bad up until that drive. And then we had a good one. You have to keep it together and stay with it and improve."

No. 35: Not in-Saine

Given the injury histories of James Starks and Green, Brandon Saine could have an unexpectedly large role.

He did last season.

Saine, an undrafted rookie, spent the first seven games of his rookie season on the practice squad. When Green sustained a torn ACL at Minnesota, Saine was promoted. Despite his humble roots, the Packers didn't shy from putting him in big situations. He immediately earned snaps on third down in road games at Detroit and New York. For the season, he carried 18 times for 69 yards (3.8 average) and added 10 receptions for 69 yards (6.9 average).

Saine is an excellent fit in the Packers' backfield with his ability to run, catch and protect. Physically, he's essentially a clone of Green — Green is 6-foot, 225 pounds and ran 4.42 at the Scouting Combine while Saine is 5-foot-11, 220 pounds and ran 4.42 at the Combine. The coaches love his intelligence, which not only makes him assignment-sure when in the game but allows him to play with limited reps at practice.

"You know what you're getting there," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "He's a sneaky runner. He sees the hole and gets through the hole and is good out of the backfield."

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

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