"I know all you guys have jobs to do. I know you're all going to decide to write your article where you're going to cut the team for us," Thompson said before Wednesday's practice. "It's not going to work out like that. It never does. You just have to be patient and let the process work itself out."
Nonetheless, we'll pick the team right now, more than two weeks ahead of the Aug. 31 final cutdown.
Receivers: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin, Tyrone Walker, Jeremy Ross, Myles White, Alex Gillett, Charles Johnson, Kevin Dorsey, Omarius Hines, Justin Wilson.
Prediction (6): Nelson, Cobb, Jones, Boykin, Walker, Ross. Beyond the Big Three, only Boykin and Walker have played with any sort of consistency. Ross makes it as the by-default kick returner, though his ball security on punt returns has been disconcerting. "He needs to be more consistent and he knows that," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's had unbelievable days, but then he'll have these one or two plays that don't belong as part of his performance. That's the step I'm looking for Jeremy to take. We gave him some big time opportunities for a young, new player here last year and he did some really good things. He has to get to that point where you're going to count on him every single down."
Tight ends: Jermichael Finley, Matthew Mulligan, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick, Jake Stoneburner.
Prediction (4): Finley, Mulligan, Williams, Taylor. Quarless still has time to get healthy and get back in the mix. Otherwise, this is a group full of specialists with Finley (receiving), Mulligan (blocking), Williams (a little of everything) and Taylor (special teams).
Offensive line: LT David Bakhtiari, LG Josh Sitton, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, RG T.J. Lang, RT Don Barclay, T Marshall Newhouse, C/G Greg Van Roten, G Lane Taylor, C/G Garth Gerhart, C/G Patrick Lewis, T Kevin Hughes, T Andrew Datko, T Bryan Bulaga, T Derek Sherrod, T/G J.C. Tretter.
Prediction (8): Bakhtiari, Sitton, Dietrich-Smith, Lang, Barclay, Newhouse, Van Roten, Taylor. Sherrod to PUP; Bulaga, Tretter to IR. Barclay got the No. 1 rep at right tackle throughout Wednesday's practice. He's a better run blocker than Newhouse and he did better in pass protection against Arizona. Newhouse, who has had a good camp, becomes the perfect swing tackle. Van Roten is the only backup who can snap the ball with consistency. Taylor has been on the rise. The team could look to the waiver wire for another tackle upon final cuts.
Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman, Vince Young.
Prediction (3): Rodgers, Harrell, Young. Harrell is the obvious No. 2, unless Young gets leaps-and-bounds better in the next couple weeks. Young's spot isn't secure for the long haul, but he'd come in handy with San Francisco and Washington to start the season. "I think he's thinking less," quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo said on Wednesday. "There was a lot of thinking early on and even earlier this week. I think today, especially in individual drills with the fundamentals, I think he looked faster, I think he looked more explosive, more fluid. There's less thinking going on there."
Running backs: DuJuan Harris, Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green, Angelo Pease; FB John Kuhn, FB Jonathan Amosa.
Prediction (4): Harris, Lacy, Starks, Franklin. Kuhn's on the bubble, with the decision potentially coming down to Franklin's development in the third-down role. For the Packers, that job is about pass protection first. That's why Kuhn has held down the fort the past two seasons, even though he offers little run-after-catch ability. "It makes it hard (to play on third down if you can't protect), it definitely does," running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said on Wednesday. "You have to scheme around that. Yeah, definitely. Pass protection is a huge part of what we do as running backs." Starks could be the third-down back, as well, but has had too many mental breakdowns in the past. Green looks good on the hoof but has no running instincts.
Defensive line: DE/NT B.J. Raji, NT/DE Ryan Pickett, DE C.J. Wilson, DE Datone Jones, DE Mike Daniels, DE/OLB Mike Neal, DE Johnny Jolly, DE/NT Josh Boyd, NT Jordan Miller, NT Gilbert Pena, DE Jerel Worthy.
Prediction (7): Raji, Pickett, Wilson, Jones, Daniels, Neal, Jolly. Worthy to PUP or IR. If the Packers go with six, which wouldn't be surprising considering they only use two most of the time, Jolly would be the odd man out. But the multi-tasking Neal potentially frees up a spot. "Johnny's doing fine," Thompson said. "I think some people are born with certain God-given instincts to perform at a particular position and I think Johnny's one of those guys." Daniels looks to be a major asset as a situational pass rusher — he's arguably the most-improved player on the team — and Wilson is having his best camp and relishes his run-stopping role.
Outside linebackers: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Andy Mulumba, Dezman Moses, Nate Palmer, Jarvis Reed, Donte Savage.
Prediction (4): Matthews, Perry, Mulumba, Moses. Matthews is Matthews and Perry has made big strides by winning with something other than brute strength. Mulumba is all about brute strength, too, and is a force against the run with big-time long-term potential. Moses has been so-so after playing pretty well as a rookie. With Neal, the Packers could free up a spot and add a sixth corner or ninth offensive lineman by keeping just three.
Inside linebackers: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Terrell Manning, Sam Barrington.
Prediction (5): Hawk, Jones, Francois, Lattimore, Manning. Francois and Lattimore were two of the team's best special-teams players last year and should stick in those roles. Manning vs. Barrington would be a tough decision. Manning has tremendous athleticism; Barrington is a wrecking ball. Manning is a No. 1 on three of four special teams units, so there's the tiebreaker.
Cornerbacks: Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Sam Shields, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, James Nixon, Loyce Means, Brandon Smith.
Prediction (5): Williams, Hayward, Shields, Hyde, Bush. The end-of-depth chart decisions will be difficult. The heady Hyde, who made a brilliant interception on Wednesday with a deflection and catch while falling to his back, has all but locked up a spot. House has really struggled the past few days but his physical talent is undeniable. Remember, 12 months ago, he was destined for the starting lineup. Nixon, Means and Smith are athletic enough to force their way onto the roster with a strong finishing kick. For now, Bush sticks. He's a No. 1 on all of the special-teams units, though he's become an afterthought in the secondary with the addition of Hyde. By sticking with six defensive linemen, the Packers could go with six corners and keep House or one of the young guys.
Safeties: Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chaz Powell, Chris Banjo, David Fulton, Sean Richardson.
Prediction (4): Burnett, Jennings, McMillian, TBA. Banjo, a late arrival, hits anything that moves but is short and hasn't done enough in coverage. Richardson's career is in jeopardy because of last year's neck injury. So, look for the Packers to deal from a position of strength or turn to the waiver wire for a fourth safety.
Specialists: K Mason Crosby, K Giorgio Tavecchio, P Tim Masthay, LS Brett Goode.
Prediction (3): TBA at kicker, Masthay, Goode. Could the Packers possibly be confident trotting out Crosby with the game on the line? He's been outstanding at practice this week but the Family Night meltdown is hard to forget. Tavecchio's three-step approach is troublesome and it's either height or distance with him. The ball just doesn't explode off his foot like it does with Crosby, a fact that's hard to overlook considering the challenge of kicking a frozen ball in December. Look for the team to find its kicker later this month, with Masthay fully capable of kicking off if the team turns to an aging veteran.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.