Special Teams Determines Roster

Which bubble players will make the final roster? Here's a look at who lined up with the kicking units on Tuesday.

The Green Bay Packers base many of their end-of-the-roster decisions on special teams.

If that's the case, tight end Ryan Taylor, cornerback Casey Hayward and linebackers Brad Jones, Dezman Moses and Jamari Lattimore are locks to make the 53-man roster. That quintet plays on all four core phases of special teams (kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return).

"I have said all along that we have a good roster in terms of special-teams players," special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said. "We have a number of guys that are battling to make the 53-man roster. I feel good about the core group we'll have coming out of (camp)."

One key spot that's up for grabs is gunner on the punt team. Jarrett Bush presumably will be one of the gunners, though that might be dependent on his role on the defense. Ditto for the rookie Hayward, who's in the mix with Bush to start at cornerback. Last year, Bush and Patrick Lee (now with Oakland) played key roles as Tim Masthay set a team record for best net punting average.

"We'll zero in as we get closer to the first game," Slocum said. "We're still working all of those guys in a rotation during the games."

Here's a look at who was on the field for all four phases on Tuesday:

All four: Brad Jones, Ryan Taylor, Dezman Moses, Jamari Lattimore, Casey Hayward.

Three: M.D. Jennings (P, PR, KO).

Two: Jarrett Bush (PR, KOR), Jerron McMillian (PR, KOR); Robert Francois (P, KO), Sean Richardson (P, PR), Randall Cobb (kickoff and punt returner). (Note: D.J. Williams was on punt return and kickoff return earlier in the week but was held out of Tuesday's practice).

Francois, who's the top backup at inside linebacker, had three tackles against Cincinnati. He's probably locked down a roster spot.

"It's a reflection on his work ethic and he's really, really improved as a football player overall," Slocum said. "Every day, he goes out and takes his job very seriously. You can see his off-the-field preparation. He's an improved player."

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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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