With Release of Josh Boyd, Pressure on Packers’ Rookie D-Linemen

Green Bay signed four undrafted rookies along with first-year tight end Casey Pierce on Monday but remains thin up front with the release of Josh Boyd.

The Green Bay Packers made a barrage of roster moves on Monday afternoon, including releasing veteran defensive lineman Josh Boyd.

They also added a second fullback, gave up on offensive tackle Jeremy Vujnovich and swapped out one young tight end with another.

The big move was the release of Boyd. Boyd, who had 34 tackles in 15 games (four starts) in 2014, beat out sixth-round pick Christian Ringo for a roster spot last summer. Boyd played in only two games (one tackle) before going on season-ending injured reserve with an ankle injury. Boyd, who was entering his final season under contract, was waived due to a failed physical, according to the NFL's transaction wire.

"Josh looks good," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Boyd, a fifth-round pick in 2013, at the Scouting Combine. "He’s been around. I’ve seen him a number of times. Yeah, he looks good. He’s progressing nicely."

While Green Bay drafted Kenny Clark in the first round and Dean Lowry in the fourth round, defensive line still wasn’t the strongest of positions, with B.J. Raji’s decision to not play in 2016 and the four-game, season-opening suspension awaiting Mike Pennel. That leaves the Packers with Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, Clark, Lowry and hybrid end-linebacker Datone Jones atop the depth chart for the first quarter of the upcoming season. That puts the pressure on Clark and Lowry to become immediate contributors. Ringo would be in the mix, as well, assuming he makes a big jump after a disappointing rookie training camp.

Meanwhile, Green Bay signed second-round draft pick Jason Spriggs and tight end Casey Pierce. Pierce was an undrafted free agent last year who spent all 17 weeks of his rookie season on the Detroit Lions’ practice squad. The Lions released him last week and he took the tryout at Green Bay’s rookie camp over other opportunities. As a senior at Kent State in 2014, he caught 60 passes for 641 yards and six touchdowns.

The Packers also officially added four rookie free agents — Central Florida defensive tackle Demetris Anderson, Troy running back Brandon Burks, Newberry fullback Alstevis Squirewell and Slippery Rock guard Cory Tucker. Anderson, Squirewell and Tucker were part of the Packers’ rookie orientation camp last weekend as tryout players. Anderson missed all of 2015 due to injury, Squirewell was a 26-game starter on the defensive line and Tucker was a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award, which goes to the nation's top lineman at the Division II level.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers will sign undrafted rookie safety Marwin Evans, who participated at the Seahawks’ rookie camp last weekend on a tryout basis. Evans, a native of Milwaukee, was a one-year starter at Utah State, finishing with 73 tackles, including 10 for losses and two sacks as a senior.

Whether the addition of Squirewell will impact the potential return of popular veteran fullback John Kuhn is unknown. As it is, Aaron Ripkowski, a promising sixth-round pick last year, and Squirewell form the fullback depth chart.

As for Burks, a source told Packer Report and other outlets that he had signed with the Packers following the draft, but he was not among the original group of signings announced by the team on Friday and was not on the field for the rookie camp as he stayed at Troy to attend his graduation. Burks was just the third player in school history to lead the Trojans in rushing in three different seasons, tallying 1,005 yards as a senior.

To create roster spaces, the Packers released Vujnovich, Boyd and fellow defensive tackle William Campbell, tight end David Grinnage (injured) and wide receiver Dennis Parks. Vujnovich spent all of the last two seasons on the practice squad, while Grinnage and Parks were undrafted rookies whose stays in Green Bay consisted of two practices.

Green Bay has 89 players on its roster, including Evans and unsigned draft picks Kenny Clark and Kyler Fackrell.

Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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