Roster News, Notes, Numbers

From roster surprises to interesting numbers, we have it all in this quick-hitting, fact-filled story on what stands as the Packers' 53-man roster at the moment.

Throughout training camp, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy cautioned reporters that the team wasn't picking the 53-man roster on that particular day.

And on Friday, when the Packers got to the 53-man limit by the league-imposed 8 p.m. deadline, the team probably hadn't picked its 53-man roster, either.

The glaring spot is the offensive line. The starting five of Marshall Newhouse, T.J. Lang, Jeff Saturday, Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga has been set in stone for months. Evan Dietrich-Smith will be the top interior backup for the second consecutive season. The seventh and final lineman is undrafted rookie Don Barclay, who improved rapidly during the final two or three weeks of training camp. While his ability to play guard and tackle is intriguing, the Packers couldn't possibly feel secure if he had to play for a significant period early in the season. So, it's probably safe to assume that general manager Ted Thompson has made a few phone calls and he and his team of scouts have been studying the waiver wire to see who could be added to the mix.

Here are some other notes:

— The "final" roster includes 24 players on offense (two quarterbacks, five backs, six receivers, four tight ends and seven linemen) and 26 on defense (six linemen, nine linebackers and 11 defensive backs). Of course, that could wind up being 25-25 if a defensive player is released/traded to add an offensive lineman.

— Suspended linebacker Erik Walden (first game) and defensive end Mike Neal (first four games) don't count on the roster. So, next week, the Packers will have to make a move to bring back Walden.

— The big surprise was keeping Phillip Merling over Daniel Muir. Merling had a good camp, but his preferred role on the defense would be playing end in the base 3-4. That's the job description for starters Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson. Muir is a better pass rusher and had the better chance of making an impact in the sub packages. Maybe Merling is insurance for Pickett's ailing calf.

— The second big surprise was keeping Brandian Ross as a seventh cornerback. However, Ross keeps the depth chart full should Davon House's shoulder not be ready for game action. Ross had a good camp, and position coach Joe Whitt said this week that Ross is good enough to win with.

— The third surprise was keeping four running backs (in addition to fullback John Kuhn). Perhaps Brandon Saine stuck around as insurance should James Starks' slow-healing turf toe not be good to go for Week 1.

— What was not a surprise is the Packers going with Boykin over Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley. Boykin was consistently the better player over the last couple of weeks. He caught 13-of-17 passes in the preseason compared to 7-of-13 for Borel and 3-of-6 for Gurley. Boykin is sure-handed and has a knack for getting open. Borel essentially was a poor man's Randall Cobb and Gurley a poor man's Jermichael Finley. It will be highly intriguing to see if either get claimed by another team on waivers.

— Ten rookies made the roster: draft picks Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Casey Hayward, Mike Daniels, Jerron McMillian and Terrell Manning and undrafted rookies Boykin, Sean Richardson, Dezman Moses and Barclay. Last year, three undrafted rookies made it: M.D. Jennings, Jamari Lattimore and Vic So'oto, with Ray Dominguez and Saine joining them later.

— To make room for another youth movement, the Packers released four veterans (Reggie Wells and Daniel Muir on Friday and Anthony Hargrove and Jarius Wynn last week) and eight players who failed to take a big enough step forward after spending the offseason with the team (Borel, Sampson Genus, Gurley, Lawrence Guy and Anthony Levine were released and Jon Hoese, Ray Dominguez and Shaky Smithson were waived off of injured reserve). It's Wynn and that eight-player second group that's interesting and speaks to the Packers' philosophy of continually turning over the bottom of the roster. It's a spaghetti-on-the-wall approach to finding talent. Bring in enough young players over a long enough period of time, and you're sure to find a player or two.

— Speaking of youth movements, only Jeff Saturday (37), Donald Driver (37), Charles Woodson (35) and Ryan Pickett (32) are age 30 or older. There are eight players who are 22 and 12 more who are 23. — Of the 53, 30 were draft picks, two were added on waivers (Jarrett Bush and John Kuhn), three were unrestricted free agents (Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett and Jeff Saturday) and 18 were undrafted free agents or street free agents.

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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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