Some good moves, some questionable

The final cuts have been made. The Green Bay Packers roster is set with players that general manager Ted Thompson and the coaching staff feel give the team the best chance of winning this season. There were good decisions, a few surprises, and some disappointing ones made by Thompson. Let's take a look:

Good moves
Cletidus Hunt seemed to have lost his desire to play football the moment he received a $6 million signing bonus from the Packers in February of 2003. During his first couple of seasons in the league, Hunt played well enough to get into position for a big contract. Once he got it, he let off the gas, and often seemed gassed. His conditioning deteriorated, and so did his play.

Hunt has all kinds of potential but lost his heart in the NFL. He suddenly went down with a knee and shoulder injury in early August and milked the injury to avoid practicing with the team until the final week of camp.

A player like Hunt can be a cancer in the locker room. Thompson made a good decision to release him.

Thompson's trade of Chris Johnson for Robert Thomas of the Rams deserves a thumbs up. Johnson has yet to play a down in the NFL because of injuries the past two seasons, and probably would have gotten cut. Late Saturday afternoon, Thompson took advantage of St. Louis' loaded linebacker corp to obtain Thomas. It is uncertain if Thomas will step in and start for the Packers, but he has a lot of starting experience and better talent than Ray Thompson.

Another good move was Thompson's decision to keep Chris White on the roster. Chris who, you might ask? White does not have great size, but has quick hands and feet. With Mike Flanagan likely in his final season in Green Bay, White will be in position to be the backup behind Scott Wells next year.

Surprise moves
The Packers released fifth-year offensive tackle Brad Bedell. This is surprising because offensive line coach Larry Beightol often raved about Bedell, who played behind Chad Clifton.

Also without Bedell and Steve Morley, who was traded to the New York Jets for an undisclosed draft pick next year, the Packers are thin at tackle. Clifton and Mark Tauscher are the starters. Kevin Barry is the only other backup tackle. Flanagan has played tackle in the past, so he could be used outside in case of injuries to Clifton or Tauscher.

The Packers need all kinds of help and depth at the guard positions. That probably was a big factor in the team deciding to keep one backup tackle and seven players for the inside positions.

Another surprise move was Thompson's decision to keep cornerback Jason Horton. By retaining Horton, the Packers enter the season with five cornerbacks instead of the customary four. Horton underwent chest surgery in March, but the Packers like his ability on special teams.

Disappointing moves
Seeing wide receiver/return specialist Andrae Thurman's name on the list of players that were released today was disappointing. Thurman played most of the camp with a broken left thumb and performed well. He showed excellent quickness and burst on returns, and an ability to catch the ball as a receiver.

The Packers kept rookie second-round pick Terrence Murphy and Antonio Chatman to play behind Javon Walker, Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson. Murphy would be better off on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the season since he missed most of the preseason with injuries and did not play in any games. He also is not expected to play in the season opener Sept. 11 at Detroit.

Thompson released fullback Vonta Leach, who is five years younger and just as effective as veteran backup Nick Luchey. Leach injured his knee in a preseason game and missed the second half of training camp. Prior to his injury, he showed that he can be an effective blocker, and run and catch the ball out of the backfield.


Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com with your thoughts and comments.


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