From 1 to 83: From Bush to Swain

We continue our countdown of the Packers' roster, from No. 55 Jarrett Bush to No. 59 Brett Swain.

It's the dog days of summer, but the start of training camp is only 20 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: 55

Jarrett Bush, DB: Bush (6-0, 200) is the swing man when trying to project who will make the Packers' roster in the secondary. He spent the offseason practices as a full-time safety for the first time in his career, and how well he adapts will help determine the fate of fellow safeties Aaron Rouse, Charlie Peprah and Anthony Smith. The wild card is special teams, where Bush is one of the core players. His 17 tackles trailed only Will Blackmon's 18 last year, though he committed a team-high six penalties in the process. Nonetheless, what the Packers think of Bush in that role is evident in their three-year, $4.5 million contract, which included a $1 million bonus. If Bush can play safety at a decent level, he'll definitely stick. If not, then the Packers will have to decide whether a special teams-only players is too big of a luxury.

Packer Report Ranking: 56

Duke Preston, C/G: Preston (6-5, 320) was brought in as a versatile lineman capable of playing all three interior positions. Through the offseason practices, it appears he'll only be providing depth, with the team seemingly happy with Scott Wells vs. Jason Spitz at center and Daryn Colledge and Josh Sitton locked in as the guards. Perhaps that will change if Preston impresses once the pads are thrown on in three weeks. Even if he's not a starter, versatility is key when figuring out the 45-man gameday roster. Preston, who started 11 games at center last year for Buffalo but struggled against the AFC East's mammoth defensive tackles, signed a two-year, $2 million contract with no signing bonus in free agency. He's a decent bet to earn a roster spot — especially if Spitz beats out Wells — but he's not a sure thing.

Packer Report Ranking: 57

Desmond Bishop, ILB: Bishop (6-2, 238) was a difference-maker last season. When Nick Barnett went down against Minnesota, Bishop stuffed Adrian Peterson and forced a fumble on a fourth-down run. He also got toasted on a pass in the flat that Chester Taylor turned into a 47-yard touchdown. Bishop's potential is evident in this statistic: He forced three fumbles in the final eight games of last season, while Barnett and A.J. Hawk have combined to force four fumbles in their 10 years in the NFL. Still, Bishop's fourth in the pecking order at inside linebacker behind the starters and Brandon Chillar. He's a good bet to make the roster, though his hard-hitting skills might be limited to special teams.

Packer Report Ranking: 58

— Scott Wells, C: Wells (6-2, 300) has been the starter for the last four seasons, but he'll enter training camp behind Jason Spitz, who's been moved from right guard to center. It's not that Wells has been bad but the Packers want to get Josh Sitton into the lineup, so Sitton is penciled in as the starting right guard. Spitz started three games and played the bulk of two others at center last season. The Packers averaged more than 140 rushing yards in those games, 28 above their season average. If Wells doesn't win the starting spot, he might be out of a job because center is his only position while Duke Preston can play all of the interior spots. Wells is an intelligent and proud player who won't go down without a fight.

Packer Report Ranking: 59

Brett Swain, WR: Swain (6-0, 203) was one of the stars of the offseason practices. He looks like a far superior player to when he was a seventh-round draft pick last year, when he struggled through training camp mentally and physically and wound up spending the season on the practice squad. Swain's gained 9 pounds from when he was drafted, with the strength making him better able to beat press coverage while retaining his quickness. He'll enter camp as the favorite among the six receivers challenging returning No. 5 wideout Ruvell Martin.


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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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