As I sat in the press box watching Green Bay struggle against the Titans this afternoon, it occurred to me that a few guys on this team who might be cut Saturday might come as a surprise to them. Who are they and what are the odds they might get a visit from "The Turk"? The roster decisions are complicated by the possibility that the Packers may see some waived players that they would like to acquire. This might require releasing more names than required to claim those guys off waivers.
Najeh Davenport – Najeh has averaged something like 2.5 yards per carry. He has not really shown any quickness or elusiveness coming off his injury. He has always been more of a straight-ahead runner than a nifty guy, but I cannot remember him making anyone miss this preseason. He seems to be injured constantly and maybe it is time to move on. It is hard to imagine that two years ago, teams were inquiring about his trade availability.
Samkon Gado – Last year's feel good story has averaged less per carry than Davenport. He has had some nagging injuries and has not adjusted to the zone blocking scheme as quickly as hoped.
With Noah Herron showing something, it is possible that either Davenport or Gado may hit the street. Herron can play fullback and that may be the difference-maker. Arliss Beach may even make it due to his upside and ability to play special teams.
Robert Ferguson – He has not shown much all camp having caught only four passes in his limited duty. He may have worn out the patience of the coaching staff and may not survive the roster cuts. He has never lived up to his potential and it might be better to go in a different direction. With him you know what you get….with the younger guys, you have more of an upside.
Rod Gardner – Actually I would not be surprised to see him get cut. Not saying he will, but it would not surprise me.
Cory Rodgers – Being a fourth-round pick may not save him. He was drafted to be a return guy and has only disappointed. He is having trouble holding onto kicks. It is obviously a mental block, but he may not make the cut. If he does get cut, the team will try and stash him on the practice squad. Being drafted in the fourth round means that they may lose him to someone else. They may make the calculation that they might lose Ruvell Martin and Carlton Brewster, if waived, and may waive one of the other guys, thinking they can stick them on the practice squad.
With Greg Jennings showing some skills despite of his inexperience and Martin and Brewster having more potential than Ferguson, Gardner or Rodgers, I could see one if not all three of those high-profile names getting sent home. Only Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are locks to make this team at receiver.
Ahmad Carroll – He keeps getting beat and making stupid penalties. I highly doubt he will get cut, especially with Charles Woodson playing poorly against the Bengals, but I would not bat an eye if he was sent packing.
Jon Ryan – He can boot the ball a ton, but is so inconsistent. If there are some interesting punters waived by other teams, there is a chance he could lose his spot on the roster. Odds are that the Packers will at least work out some punters as the season progresses and Ryan will always be in a short leash.
I have learned two things from watching Ted Thompson the last two years. One, he will defer to the guys that he drafted. If it is a toss up, he will stay with the guys he brought in. Two, he is not afraid to cut a guy, even if it might look bad. I always got the impression that Mike Sherman would keep a draft pick or priority free agent he signed longer then necessary so as to avoid the criticism.
At some time Friday night or early Saturday morning, the Packer brain trust will convene and determine who stays and who goes. Then "The Turk" will be summoned and he will go searching for players and playbooks. Dreams will be ended for some. For others, the dream goes on for at least another day.
Odds and Ends
-- The special teams looked awful. They could not cover a kick to save their lives and the penalties were unacceptable. One mistake teams make in this league is assuming that the younger guys can get the job done. In most cases, any guy who makes it to the NFL was a stud going all the way back to high school and probably never played special teams. It takes time to learn how to play special teams. The organizations that realize that are the ones that succeed.
-- Aaron Rodgers has his most disappointing game of the preseason. He just never seemed to get in the rhythm and was harassed all day.
-- Charles Woodson did not play. I guess the coaches figured that since he was not interested in playing last week, why expose him to further embarrassment. Once the games start to count, Woodson better show more of an effort.
-- Marquand Manual spent most of camp hurt and spent the rest of it mastering his impression of Casper the friendly ghost. He was invisible.
-- The word on the street is the Packers are trying to move one of their defensive tackles. They have six on the roster. Cullen Jenkins, Kendrick Allen, Johnny Jolly or Corey Williams may be heading to a new team if the price is right. My money is on Jenkins being traded.
Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.