It all adds up to 53

One way to get from 74 to 53 is to subtract 21. Showing some creative math, Packers coach-general manager Mike Sherman started with 74, subtracted one, subtracted six, added two and subtracted 16.

Sherman got the Packers down to the league-mandated 53 players Sunday by releasing 16 players and adding two in trades. Those moves, in addition to the six players waived Saturday and the Marques Anderson trade Friday, got the Packers to the magic number.

The big move was the release of quarterback Tim Couch (see related story). Other moves, however, are sure to raise some eyebrows.

Sherman elected to keep both of his punters, rookie third-round pick B.J. Sander and 15-year veteran Bryan Barker. Barker averaged a competent 42.4 yards (35.9 net) per punt in two games, but Sherman refuses to give up on Sander, who averaged a pitiful 36.0 yards per punt (30.8 net). The worst of the bunch was Sander's 5-yard shank Friday at Tennessee.

"He's more than capable, in my mind, of doing it," Sherman said. "... I think coming out of college and being put in the spotlight and everything's documented, it's tough to transition from college to the pros.

Sander's draft status — the Packers traded their fourth- and fifth-round picks to get Sander in the third round — didn't factor in Sherman's decision, nor did Sander's signing bonus of $583,625, the coach emphatically said.

Asked if he would carry both punters into the regular season opener Monday night, Sept. 13, at Carolina, Sherman was evasive. Same for when he was asked which punter would be called upon for that game.

With the Packers carrying two punters, one unlucky player got caught up in the numbers game. Asked which position got shortchanged, Sherman thought for a few seconds before saying the offensive line or linebacker.

If that's the case, then either rookie seventh-round pick Scott Wells, a center, or second-year linebacker Steve Josue was the unlucky player.

In another interesting move, the Packers eliminated all three candidates for No. 5 receiver. By releasing Scottie Vines, Carl Ford and Kelvin Kight, the Packers have just four receivers on their roster. That's likely to change, Sherman said.

"I didn't feel the last three guys did anything specifically to separate themselves and warrant that fifth spot," Sherman said. "Our roster is not set, even though today's the day for cuts. ... Those things could change and we may have a fifth receiver by the end of the week."

Ford and Vines were thought to be the front-runners for the spot, with Kight a darkhorse after impressing as a kick returner. But Ford, a star of training camp last year before hurting his knee, and Vines, a practice-team star with a Terrell Owens-size body, bungled their chances. Ford was next to invisible, while Vines had a fumble in each of the last two preseason games. Kight's drop of a sure touchdown pass from Craig Nall against Tennessee did nothing to inspire Sherman's confidence.

On the defensive line, youth won out over experience with Sherman keeping undrafted Cullen Jenkins, sixth-round pick Corey Williams and 2003 fifth-round pick James Lee ahead of veteran defensive tackle Larry Smith and defensive ends Chukie Nwokorie, Kenny Holmes and Tyrone Rogers.

Nwokorie missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury and reached an injury settlement upon his release. Smith injured his thigh against New Orleans and hadn't practiced since, though Sherman said he would have been ready to play this week. Rogers, a five-year veteran who was released by Cleveland, was a standout during the preseason with a couple sacks and an interception. Holmes was one of the league's better pass rushers before a season-ending knee injury last season with the Giants. The Packers signed him just before the Jacksonville preseason game but he failed to show much promise as a pass rusher.

"He's a player who's had a great career but we just felt like the injury risk and ownership of this player was too significant," Sherman said of Holmes. "We feel like the player we got in the trade is a little bit more lively and a healthier player."

The trade Sherman is talking about is a big one for the Packers. Green Bay sent 2005 fifth- and sixth-round draft choices to Kansas City for defensive end R-Kal Truluck.

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Truluck, who has progressed from Division III college football to the Canadian and Arena leagues, has played in 20 NFL games, tallying 37 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Five of those sacks came last season. Sherman said Truluck, 29, will line up at end in the dime defense to provide a complement for Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.

"He's a guy we had earmarked as a pass rusher," Sherman said.

The Packers on Friday received fifth- and sixth-round picks from Oakland in exchange for safety Marques Anderson. The Packers will send the Chiefs the worst of those picks.

Speaking of Anderson, Sherman said the Packers had talked to the Chiefs about trading Anderson for Truluck.

In another trade, the Packers sent a conditional 2006 choice to Miami for guard-tackle Brad Bedell. With the Packers' backup linemen consisting of center-guard Grey Ruegamer, guard Steve Morley and guard-tackle Kevin Barry, the Packers needed a tackle. Second-year player Brennan Curtin was being counted on to be a backup tackle, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury against New Orleans.

Sherman compared Bedell to former Packer Barry Stokes, a "tough, hard-nosed guy." Bedell will cost the Packers a third-round pick if he makes the 45-player gameday roster or a fifth-round pick if he makes the 53-player roster.

In another roster quirk, Sherman kept three fullbacks: starter William Henderson, backup Nick Luchey, and undrafted rookie Vonta Leach. While answering a series of questions about Leach, Sherman reminded reporters that, "The roster's not quite set just yet."

At No. 3 tight end, Sherman chose the blocking of veteran Steve Bush over the athleticism and promise of NFL-Europe standout Tony Donald.

Other players released Sunday were safeties Julius Curry and Curtis Fuller, cornerback Chris Watson, wide receiver Shockmain Davis, who broke his leg during training camp, the rookie center Wells and linebacker Josue.

A biceps injury prevented Wells from truly battling Ruegamer to be the backup center. "He's not injured right now but it set him back. I really thought him and Ruegamer would battle off at the center position," Sherman said.

The reason Josue lost out to veteran Tyreo Harrison to be the sixth linebacker, Sherman said, was "special teams."

The Packers can sign eight players to the practice squad starting at 11 a.m. Monday.

Saturday's cuts:

S Julius Curry, TE Tony Donald, WR Carl Ford, LB Steve Josue, WR Kelvin Kight, QB Scott McBrien, WR Scottie Vines, C Scott Wells, QB Tim Couch, S Curtis Fuller, DE Kenny Holmes, DE Tyrone Rogers, DT Larry Smith, CB Chris Watson, DE Chukie Nwokorie, WR Shockmain Davis.

Friday's cuts:

RB Walter Williams, WR Wilson Thomas, LB Jermain Taylor, OT Scott Hayes, OT Atlas Herrion and OT Jason Jimenez.

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