Another chance elsewhere?

Packers' GM Thompson gives first wave of cuts some hope, says Packer Report's Todd Korth

Ted Thompson isn't such a bad guy afterall, eh? Today, the Green Bay Packers' general manager released four players, including three who were with the team last year. Justin Harrell was stashed on PUP. Upon further review, there's a reason why Thompson surprised this scribe by setting running back DeShawn Wynn, wide receiver Chris Francies and fullback Ryan Powdrell free today instead of at the end of this week.

Thompson is giving them every chance possible to make it with a different NFL team.

Wynn, Francies and Powdrell all are good enough to play in the NFL. However, Green Bay's depth chart is stacked with better talent ahead of them and they had the slimmest of chances of remaining with the team this year. That's a good sign for the Packers.

Wynn really had no chance of making the roster, unless he rushed for about 300 yards on Thursday. Even then, the team might think twice about keeping him around. With only a few days of training camp practice under his belt, that's not going to happen.

Wynn is good enough to start in the league, which he did a few times last year for the Packers, but he also is prone to injury and doesn't keep himself in tip-top shape, like other backs normally do. He was a model citizen, however, in Green Bay and seemed to be a good locker room guy, so maybe he'll get a shot yet with another team before week's end. We'll see.

"The NFL is a tough business and people get hurt," Thompson said. "Sometimes guys have worse luck than others. I think it's fair to bring everybody's attention ... (Wynn) helped us win a couple games last year. In New York, in a tough place to play, a great defense, he helped us win a game. He's a good player. He did the best he could. He had a sprained ankle. He wasn't able to compete and the other guys competing for that spot, I think it's more of a positive than anything else, that we've got other guys that have been out there competing and doing a good job."

Another reason that made it easy for Thompson to cut Wynn is because of Kregg "The Pumpkin" Lumpkin, a non-drafted rookie who probably will get a good, long look from the team on Thursday evening. If Lumpkin has a good night and continues to progress like he has in camp, he just may make the 53-man roster. If not, he's a lock for the practice squad. Thompson already has a logjam at the position with Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, Noah Herron and Vernand Morency. However Lumpkin, who has rushed for a team-high 126 yards on 28 carries (4.5 avg.) and has scored two touchdowns, is catching everyone's attention.

"I think he's been pretty solid, pretty steady," said Thompson of Lumpkin. "He's still learning, as all rookies are."

The Packers simply gave up on Francies, who has spent the last two years in Green Bay, mainly on the team's practice squad. Francies showed enough to be activated for seven regular season games in that time, but not enough this preseason to stick around for 2008. Francies had opportunities in preseason games to shine but had only three catches for 11 yards with a couple of drops. Just when you thought he was going to hold down the No. 6 spot at wide receiver with some nice catches in practice, he unable to convert it to game days, which is what counts.

Still, Francies probably will get a chance with another team. It will be up to him to make the most of it.

Powdrell was playing well last year in training camp, then suffered a knee injury and was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Aug. 27. Like Wynn and Francies, he was stuck behind Korey Hall and John Kuhn at fullback on the team's depth chart with little to no chance of surpassing either of the two. But he's got a bowling ball build at 5-foot-11, 260 pounds and should get another shot with a different team.

It won't be too surprising to see Wynn, Francies and Powdrell's name re-surface on the league's transition wire this season. All of them have the talent to play; they just need more opportunities, which don't always come along in training camp. A change of scenery sometimes is the best recipe.

As for Harrell, he simply needs time to heal. His back is aching and Packers fans are venting. They want to see him live up to his first-round status, but he hasn't been able to shake the injury bug. Because of the investment it made in Harrell, the team has to be careful with the defensive tackle, so stashing him on the physically unable to perform list is the best option available.

Maybe, hopefully, he will be strong enough in late October to give the Packers' defensive line a boost.

Todd Korth writes for and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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