The Green Bay Packers got down to the 75-man roster limit on Tuesday by placing Jordy Nelson on season-ending injured reserve and releasing seven players, including quarterback Matt Blanchard.
The Packers waived/injured receivers Javess Blue and Jimmie Hunt and also released receiver James Butler, outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard, cornerback Kyle Sebetic and tight end Harold Spears. Hubbard was released before Tuesday's practice, Sebetic has missed time with an ankle injury and Blanchard, Butler and Spears went through Tuesday's practice. On Monday, the Packers released five players to get down to 83: inside linebackers Tavarus Dantzler and Josh Francis, offensive tackles Fabbians Ebbele and Vince Kowalski and defensive tackle Lavon Hooks.
None of those moves was a surprise, other than Blanchard by the sheer timing. Blanchard, the former UW-Whitewater star, had a good training camp and performed well against Philadelphia on Saturday, going 8-of-11 for 87 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“I think Matt can definitely play in this league,” quarterbacks/receivers coach Alex Van Pelt said on Tuesday. “I thought he did a great job for us. I was impressed by his ability to learn and to adapt, especially his footwork to our system, which is the hardest part for most quarterbacks to do. He had limited opportunities but when he had them he made the most out of them. I enjoyed having him in the room. He’s a very bright guy and he has a future in the NFL as a player.”
While Blanchard impressed, he had no chance with Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien and fifth-rounder Brett Hundley entrenched as the quarterback trio. It's possible the Packers released Blanchard early as a favor to potentially get him a shot at another camp. Otherwise, a source said the Packers would like to keep him on the practice squad to give them Rodgers, Hundley and Blanchard should Tolzien depart in free agency next offseason.
“That’s the strongest group of four I’ve ever been around,” said Van Pelt, a former NFL quarterback and offensive coordinator. “Those are personnel decisions but I’d love to him in the room.”
Dantzler and Hunt received $5,000 signing bonuses, Blue $4,000 and Ebbele $2,000. None of the others received any bonus money.
The heavy lifting will be done on Saturday, when the Packers have to get down to 53.