From 1 to 83: From Jones to Havner

We continue our countdown of the Packers' roster, with several players vying to be factors on special teams.

It's the dog days of summer, but the start of training camp is only 21 days away. At this point, the Packers have 83 players on their roster. The limit is 80, but the draft picks don't count until they're signed. With the Packers officially at 80 players, the team will have to make a corresponding roster move when fullback Quinn Johnson, linebacker Clay Matthews III and defensive lineman B.J. Raji are signed.

With that said, we continue to rank the players from No. 1 to No. 83. This list doesn't necessarily list the players from best to worst, but we take into account the players' importance on the roster and other factors such as contracts (Justin Harrell) and potential (Jamon Meredith).

Packer Report Ranking: 60

Brad Jones, OLB: Jones (6-foot-3, 239 pounds), the Packers' seventh-round pick, comes well-versed in the basics of Green Bay's defensive scheme after starting as an outside linebacker in Colorado's 3-4 defense for 36 games. He paced the Buffs with seven sacks and 14 tackles for losses as a senior, when he was an honorable mention on the all-Big 12 team. His potential was evident during offseason practices, when he was the third-team right outside linebacker behind Jeremy Thompson and Clay Matthews III. Jones signed a four-year deal worth $1.81 million with a $60,250 signing bonus. He'll be battling, among others, undrafted outside linebacker Cyril Obiozor for a roster spot, but his athleticism could make him a valuable contributor on special teams while he grows into a role on defense. With Aaron Kampman an unrestricted free agent after this season, Jones might be worth keeping around.

Packer Report Ranking: 61

Michael Montgomery, DE: The lanky Montgomery (6-5, 282) was at least adequate in replacing the injured Cullen Jenkins last season. His 71 tackles were more than he had in his first three NFL seasons combined, and he added 2.5 sacks to equal his career total. He piled up 15 tackles and one sack as the Packers almost won at undefeated Tennessee at midseason. Even though he lacks the ideal bulk to play defensive end in the new 3-4 scheme, the Packers retained him in restricted free agency with a two-year contract. He's got the potential to add the necessary weight to be effective — he's up 9 pounds from last year — but will he make the roster? The Packers likely will keep six defensive linemen, and assuming Johnny Jolly avoids an NFL suspension with his legal problems and Justin Harrell remains healthy, Montgomery would be fighting for the sixth spot. During offseason practices, he was with the No. 2 nickel defense as an inside rusher.

Packer Report Ranking: 62

Tory Humphrey, TE: After spending half of 2006 and all of 2007 on injured reserve, Humphrey (6-2, 255) finally stayed healthy and got regular playing time. Bouncing back from a broken leg sustained on the first day of training camp in 2007, Humphrey caught 11 passes for 162 yards. He had two of the three longest receptions from a tight end with 29- and 37-yarders and didn't have a drop. Still, the Packers didn't tender him an offer as a restricted free agent but brought him back in April. He remains the third tight end, though he'll have to hold off Carson Butler, Evan Moore, Devin Frischknecht and, perhaps, someone signed off the waiver wire.

Packer Report Ranking: 63

Alfred Malone, DE: Malone (6-4, 312) is the great unknown among the defensive linemen. He's got the textbook size to play defensive end, but in his four seasons in the NFL, he's given little indication he's a player. He played in two games as an undrafted rookie for Houston in 2005 (Dom Capers' last year as head coach), two games in 2006 for Houston and was out of football for most of 2007 until being signed to the Packers' practice squad. Even with all of the defense's problems last season, Malone only played in the four December games but provided no push on passing downs. He sat out the offseason practices after ankle surgery. With his size and the pass-rushing ability he showed during training camp last summer, he could make some noise.

Ronald Talley, DE: Talley (6-3, 286) is one of the players the coaches are most anxious to see when the pads go on in training camp. The undrafted free agent from Delaware started his collegiate career at Notre Dame but transferred because he didn't see eye-to-eye with coach Charlie Weis. In two seasons at Delaware, Talley was a tremendous run defender, and since that's the key role for a 3-4 end, he'll be someone worth watching. With Joe Flacco, he helped lead the Blue Hens to the FCS championship game as a junior. He mostly lined up with the third unit during offseason practices. Talley was given a $5,000 signing bonus.

Danny Lansanah, ILB: In one of the stranger moves of last season, the Packers released special-teams ace Tracy White and promoted Lansanah (6-1, 259) from the practice squad because he was about to be signed by the Dolphins. In return, Lansanah played in all of five games and recorded two tackles on special teams — all while the Packers' special teams went from strength to weakness. With that said, he's got the size the Packers don't have in their other inside linebackers, and he was a physical presence last summer. He spent the offseason paired with Desmond Bishop with the second unit, but that was with Nick Barnett sidelined. Either Lansanah will have to beat out Bishop or hope the Packers keep 10 linebackers instead of nine.

Charlie Peprah, S: Peprah (5-11, 203) was the star of the first week of training camp, but a hamstring injury put an end to that. He played in 13 games with one start, but the explosiveness and hitting ability seen during the summer wasn't evident. He's got all of the intangible qualities you'd want but he isn't very big and he isn't very fast. His ticket to the roster will be dependent on him returning to last year's form and being irreplaceable on special teams. Unfortunately for him, the Packers added only two players in free agency, and one of them was a safety, Anthony Smith, who's faster and more experienced in this defense.

Spencer Havner, ILB/TE: Outside of a four-game cameo to end last season in which he downed two punts inside the 10-yard line, Havner (6-3, 250) spent his first three professional seasons on the Packers' practice squad. With no more practice squad eligibility, Havner's last chance in Green Bay will be as a two-way player. Special teams will have to be his ticket, and if he can develop quickly enough to be a serviceable third tight end to replace Humphrey, he's got a shot. More often than not at this level, though, switching sides of the ball doesn't work.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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