It's the dog days of summer, but the start of training camp is only 12 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 and potential.
Packer Report Ranking: 25
— Josh Sitton, G: Last year, the fourth-round draft pick had emerged as the starter at right guard until he sprained a knee during the preseason game at Denver. By the time he was healthy, the Packers had moved on with Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz as the guards. Sitton started two games, at Tennessee at midseason and the season finale against Detroit, in which the Packers rushed for 211 yards. With Spitz moving to center, Sitton (6-3, 322) was penciled in again as the starter at right guard for the offseason practices. He played well during those shorts-and-helmets practices, and the coaches have lauded his improvements in the weight room. Sitton, a means-business blocker, enters training camp as a solid favorite to emerge as the starter.
Packer Report Ranking: Tie 26
— Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm, QBs: In a perfect world, one will play only as the holder on extra points and field goals and the other will be holding a clipboard and running the scout team. But, as Packers fans tend to forget after year after year after year of 16-start seasons with Brett Favre and, last year, with Aaron Rodgers, needing a backup for a game or more is typical in the NFL. Are either Brohm or Flynn good enough to get the Packers through Rodgers' absence, whether it's for one series or for a series of games? Flynn looked good last preseason, showing the poise and intangible qualities that made him a championship quarterback at LSU. But, perhaps not surprisingly, he looked like he was in over his head when thrown into the fire during the fourth quarter at Tampa Bay in Week 4. Brohm, a second-round pick out of Louisville, looked in over his head throughout most of his rookie training camp and was passed on the depth chart by the seventh-rounder Flynn. The coaches say both quarterbacks are more capable after having a year in the system. That was evident during offseason practices. Flynn remains a solid No. 2 entering camp. Brohm has the better physical tools but needs to cut down on the bad passes that continue to be a plague.
Packer Report Ranking: 28
— Quinn Johnson, FB: It's not often that — at least among the fans — a fifth-round draft pick is expected to not only compete for a starting job as a rookie but win it, but that's the case for Johnson (6-1, 255). The Packers want to get more physical on offense, and Johnson fits that bill better than incumbent fullbacks Korey Hall and John Kuhn. Johnson was a powerful blocker during his senior season at LSU, and the Packers haven't had that since William Henderson's heyday. While Hall and Kuhn have combined to provide a decent presence at the position, for the Packers' running game to reach its potential, it needs a hammer in the backfield. Johnson, who showed surprisingly good hands at OTAs, took the third-team reps behind the starter Hall and backup Kuhn during offseason practices.
Packer Report Ranking: 29
— James Jones, WR: During a big-time rookie season, Jones (6-1, 208) hauled in 47 passes for 676 yards, a 14.4-yard average and two touchdowns. Bigger things were expected from Jones last season, but a knee injury sustained in the preseason continually short-circuited his performance. He finished with 20 receptions for 274 yards, a 13.7 average and one touchdown. Almost half of that yardage came in Week 15 at Jacksonville, when Jones had four catches for 132 yards. If the Jones of 2007 and late 2008 emerges in 2009, the Packers' passing game will have tremendous firepower. While Jordy Nelson had an impressive rookie season, his longest gain was only 29 yards. Jones had three receptions longer than that against the Jaguars alone and five in 2007. If Jones can't stay healthy, he'll be nudged aside for playing time by Nelson.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.