The easy moves have been made. After Thursday night’s preseason game at Kansas City, the hard moves await Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson.
A total of 22 players must be eliminated from the roster. After watching every practice of training camp and conversations with each of the assistant coaches, here’s our best guess at who stays and who goes by 3 p.m. Saturday.
Staying: Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley.
Going: Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams
Why?: Packers coach Mike McCarthy called Callahan a “hell of a player” this week, so perhaps the former Division III star will make the roster. Would Minnesota, which obviously needs quarterback help, grab Callahan in the wake of Teddy Bridgewater’s devastating knee injury? Still, we’re betting the Packers will release Callahan and try to get him on the practice squad on Sunday. After practicing twice this week, Hundley should be back for Week 1, so a third quarterback wouldn’t be needed on the roster. And, at the end of the day, Callahan is a former Division III player who needs an elongated release to fire the ball downfield. So, for as good as he’s played, he might not be a hot commodity on the waiver wire.
Staying: Eddie Lacy, James Starks and Brandon Burks, plus FB Aaron Ripkowski.
Going: Brandon Ross and FB Alstevis Squirewell.
Why?: This is Burks’ job to lose after John Crockett went down last week. He’s a proven receiving threat — 90 catches in three seasons at Troy — and an explosive runner, as he showed with his touchdown at San Francisco. McCarthy probably should be asking the Chiefs’ coaches to blitz, blitz and blitz some more to see if Burks is up to the task.
Staying: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis.
Going: Geronimo Allison and Herb Waters.
Why?: Because of Janis’ hand, we go with seven receivers. Davis gets the nod over Allison based on special teams. It was Davis and Montgomery as the No. 1 kickoff returners. Plus, Davis stepped in as a gunner on the No. 1 punt team. Chances are, Allison won’t make it to the practice squad. Then again, the same thing was said about Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel a few years ago and neither got claimed on waivers. Wide receiver is a dime-a-dozen position, though Allison doesn’t have dime-a-dozen height.
Staying: Jared Cook, Richard Rodgers and Justin Perillo.
Going: Casey Pierce.
Why?: This has been the easiest position to figure out for weeks.
Staying: LT David Bakhtiari, LG Josh Sitton, C J.C. Tretter, RG T.J. Lang, RT Bryan Bulaga, OT Jason Spriggs, OT Kyle Murphy, G Lane Taylor and C/G/T Don Barclay.
Going: C Corey Linsley (PUP), C/G Kyle Steuck and G Lucas Patrick.
Why?: At the start of camp, the incredible depth made this a tough position to narrow down. However, with Linsley (hamstring) still sidelined and Josh Walker (knee) on injured reserve, all of the thinking has been eliminated. Barclay has played well upon his move to center and has earned his place on the roster.
Staying: Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry and Brian Price.
Going: Christian Ringo and Tyler Kuder.
Suspended: Mike Pennel.
Why?: Someone has to be the fifth lineman until Pennel returns in Week 6, so we’re going with Price because of size and strength ahead of Ringo. After all, the Packers have plenty of guys to rush the passer, with Julius Peppers and Datone Jones able to play defensive tackle on third-and-long. What they need is toughness. The wild card might be Kuder, who has come on strong.
Staying: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Julius Peppers, Datone Jones, Kyler Fackrell and Jayrone Elliott.
Going: Reggie Gilbert.
Why?: The trade of Lerentee McCray ended whatever drama was at this position. It became somewhat trendy to write off Elliott after he had vanished during the past couple weeks of camp, but we never followed that line of thinking. He was arguably the best front-seven defender on the field during the first week or two of camp. Plus, he’s a solid special-teams player and a leader of that unit. McCray, who was signed to upgrade the special teams, never broke into the first team on any of the units.
Staying: Blake Martinez, Sam Barrington, Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas.
Going: Carl Bradford and Beniquez Brown.
Why: The debate is Bradford vs. Thomas, and it’s the toughest decision on the roster. If Thomas were healthy, this wouldn’t be quite so difficult. But he’s not. So, we’d be inclined to go with Bradford. However, he was a No. 1 on only the punt team, where he filled in for Elliott this week. So, we’ll go with Thomas, assuming he’s not going to miss a few more weeks.
Staying: Sam Shields, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Ladarius Gunter and Josh Hawkins.
Going: Robertson Daniel, Makinton Dorleant, Warren Gatewood.
Suspended: Demetri Goodson.
Why?: Daniel intercepted Aaron Rodgers on Tuesday. Otherwise, it wasn’t a good week of practice. Other than Shields, Hawkins is the fastest corner on the roster. He worked as a jammer on the No. 1 punt return this week. If there’s one position where a big game vs. Kansas City could determine the winner, this is it.
Staying: Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Micah Hyde, Chris Banjo and Kentrell Brice.
Going: Marwin Evans and Jermaine Whitehead.
Why?: Brice keeps getting better. On Monday, he broke up two passes from Rodgers. And he’s now a No. 1 on punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return. From there, the Packers will hope to keep Evans, who not only didn’t get drafted but didn’t get signed after trying out at Seattle’s rookie camp. Even the versatile Whitehead’s had a good camp. Other than outside linebacker, this might be the best position on the team.
Staying: K Mason Crosby, P Jacob Schum, LS Rick Lovato.
Why? Schum, and even Lovato, are competing against the rest of the league. If they perform well vs. Kansas City, the jobs are theirs.
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.