All-stars and also-rans

The preseason schedule has reached its midpoint. Cut-down day is week away. As the roster stakes intensify with every snap, whose stock is rising, and whose stock is falling fast?<P>

Going up:

WR/PR Antonio Chatman: A fine performance vs. Saints helped this 5-foot-9 receiver make a big impression. Despite a sprained ankle suffered on the second-half kickoff, Sherman is looking for Chatman to improve from solid to sensational on returns this season.

SS Mark Roman: The Packers have been alternating Roman and Marques Anderson in the starting strong safety spot. The difference Roman made Saturday didn't look like a fluke - instead it looks like the ex-Bengal may bring a badly-needed dimension to this defense that's been missing since LeRoy Butler's retirement.

QB Doug Pederson: Quietly, as always, Pederson is proving his worth. None of the other backups are earning the complete confidence it would take for the Packers to cut Pederson loose. Meanwhile the 36-year-old QB hasn't lost any of his ability to come off the bench if disaster strikes.

DT James Lee: One year and a bad back injury later, Lee is on the mend and definitely on the rise. He provided some of the team's few highlights vs. Seattle and had a fumble recovery Saturday vs. the Saints.

LB Nick Barnett: Not that he needs a boost, but with any luck the Packer D may climb along with their star this year. Playing like its the regular season in both practice and preseason games, Barnett has made it clear that he expects himself and his entire squad to take it up a notch in 2004.

Going down

P Nathan Chapman: In a battle with a third-round pick, Chapman would have to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that he can out-punt B.J. Sander soundly - every single time. A poor performance in his long-awaited chance vs. the Saints may have unwritten this would-be fairy tale. After all, Cinderella looked her best when she finally got to the ball.

WR Carl Ford: He's the guy everyone wants to succeed, but it hasn't happened with the emphasis needed to make headway in the wide receiver race. Ford's biggest problem is Chatman (see Going Up) who is better in both receiver and returnman spots.

S/CB Bhawoh Jue: The backup struggled against the Seahawks and didn't add much to the revamped D against the Saints. Jury's out

QB Craig Nall: Who? One one hand, he hasn't been healthy enough to fight for his job, which he needs to do in this multi-layered battle. Pederson and Couch have provided different, if completely opposite, arguments in favor of keeping them on the roster. Nall may find himself on the outside of those issues. In Nall's favor: The Packers have made a considerable investment in his development, he's been practicing well lately, and will get a chance to prove himself Friday at Jacksonville.

P B.J. Sander: So far, no good. Sherman, as always, has remained diplomatic but pragmatic but reading between the lines reveals the bad news. The Packers signed veteran Bryan Barker today, and that can't be a good sign with a third-round pick in camp.

QB Tim Couch: Is it time to end this experiment before it goes too far? Or is a little confidence that comes from playing with a truly good team all Couch needs to finally succeed? Like we said, the jury's out on this one. Time is running short to make a decision that will have a big impact on the Packers' future at QB, and immeasurably bigger impact on Couch's future in football.

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