The Packer Report: The 53

With training camp about to enter its second week, we look at each position group in predicting the final 53-man roster. Who's in, who's out and what's changed in the first week?

Before the starting of training camp, in his position-by-position series, Packer Report's Bill Huber predicted the final 53-man roster. Here is an update, with Bill's new 53-man prediction and notes on each position group. It goes without saying that the four preseason games could change all of this in a hurry.

Offensive line

Depth (14): RT Allen Barbre, LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith, RT Breno Giacomini, G Andrew Hartline, G/T T.J. Lang, LT Jamon Meredith, T/G Tony Moll, C/G Duke Preston, RT Dane Randolph, RG Josh Sitton, C/G Jason Spitz, C Scott Wells.

Who makes it (9): Clifton, Colledge, Spitz, Sitton, Barbre as starters; Lang, Meredith, Moll, Preston as reserves.

Who doesn't: Dietrich-Smith, Giacomini, Hartline, Randolph, Wells.

Position notes: The five starters plus Lang are the locks. The final three choices are a challenge because it's not based on talent alone. Preston hasn't been overly impressive but the Packers need a backup center and he brings more versatility (and a lower price tag) than Wells. Moll makes it because he can play anywhere but center, which left Giacomini (or Barbre, if he doesn't win the job) as the odd man out. Giacomini has more upside than Moll, but Moll can play everywhere but center and fourth-round pick Lang can play three spots while Giacomini is only a right tackle. Of the nine who make it on this list, fifth-round pick Meredith at this point is totally ill-equipped to play but putting him on the practice squad is a gamble and the Packers need a left tackle prospect. Change from preview: Moll in; Giacomini out. Dietrich-Smith is a strong contender for the eight-player practice squad. Hartline and Randolph could join him.

Quarterbacks

Depth (3): Brian Brohm, Matt Flynn, Aaron Rodgers

Who makes it (3): Rodgers (starter), Flynn, Brohm.

Who doesn't: None.

Position notes: Ideally, the Packers would have a veteran backup, but Flynn is too promising to get rid of and Brohm was a second-round pick only 16 months ago. The preseason games will be vital. Change from preview: None.

Running backs

Depth (8): Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, Kregg Lumpkin, Tyrell Sutton, DeShawn Wynn; Quinn Johnson, John Kuhn, Korey Hall.

Who makes it (5): Grant and Hall as starters, with Jackson, Wynn and Johnson as reserves.

Who doesn't: Lumpkin, Sutton, Kuhn.

Position notes: At halfback, my pre-training camp darkhorse, Sutton, has been turning heads while Lumpkin doesn't seem to be the same player as last year. But Wynn has a slight edge in this battle because of his pass blocking. The safety of No. 12 is paramount. At fullback, fifth-round pick Johnson has been a major disappointment but his potential is evident with just one look at him. Hall seems stronger this year, which gives him the nod over Kuhn. Change from preview: Wynn in; Sutton out. Sutton is a strong candidate for the practice squad.

Tight ends

Depth (6): Jermichael Finley, Devin Frischknecht, Spencer Havner, Tory Humphrey, Donald Lee, Evan Moore.

Who makes it (3): Finley (starter), Lee, Havner.

Who doesn't: Frischknecht, Humphrey Moore.

Position notes: Humphrey, the incumbent No. 3, is out with a broken forearm. Havner, who plays inside linebacker as well, is on all of the No. 1 special-teams units. That's a strong signal for his prospects. As for who starts, Lee is having a strong camp but Finley has been unstoppable. Change from preview: Havner in; Humphrey out. Moore is a possibility for the practice squad.

Wide receivers

Depth (10): Jake Allen, Donald Driver, JaRon Harris, Kole Heckendorf, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Ruvell Martin, Jordy Nelson, Brett Swain, Patrick Williams.

Who makes it (5): Driver and Jennings as starters; Nelson, Jones, Martin as reserves.

Who doesn't: Allen, Harris, Heckendorf, Swain, Williams.

Position notes: No surprises here, with last year's group practically a sure thing to return. The only battle will be for the No. 3, with Jones having the slightest of edges over Nelson. Swain's challenge of Martin as the No. 5 has fizzled. Change from preview: none. Heckendorf has got to be a lock for the practice squad. Allen and Swain spent last year on it and could be headed back. If they only keep one of those two, Allen's 6-foot-4 frame is inviting.

Defensive line


DE Jarius Wynn
Morry Gash/AP Images
Depth (11): Justin Harrell, Cullen Jenkins, Johnny Jolly, Alfred Malone, Michael Montgomery, Dean Muhtadi, Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, Ronald Talley, Anthony Toribio, Jarius Wynn.

Who makes it (6): Raji, Jenkins and Pickett as starters; Harrell, Jolly, Wynn as reserves.

Who doesn't: Malone, Montgomery, Muhtadi, Talley, Toribio.

Position notes: Really tough decision here, with Jolly making it only on experience, considering he's missed most of camp with a sprained ankle. Montgomery is experienced, and Malone, Muhtadi, Talley and Toribio all have had take-notice moments. Wynn gets into the backfield too often not to take notice. Change from preview: None. The coaches are really high on Talley, who is a logical candidate for the practice squad.

Linebackers

Depth (12): Nick Barnett, Desmond Bishop, Brandon Chillar, Spencer Havner, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Aaron Kampman, Danny Lansanah, Clay Matthews, Cyril Obiozor, Brady Poppinga, Jeremy Thompson.

Who makes it (10): Barnett, Hawk, Kampman, Matthews as starters; Bishop, Chillar, Havner, Jones, Poppinga, Thompson as reserves. Note: With Havner listed in the tight end tally, the "10" linebackers is only nine when getting the numbers to add up to 53.

Who doesn't: Lansanah, Obiozor.

Position notes: Other than receiver, this is the Packers' strongest position — assuming Barnett comes back healthy from last year's torn ACL. Jones, the seventh-round pick, hasn't practiced yet because of a back injury and is fading from a solid bet to make the roster to a toss-up with Lansanah and Obiozor. Lansanah, a second-year player, is a physical run defender who played in five games as a rookie. The undrafted Obiozor is a big guy with some promise. Special teams will be the deciding factor for that last spot. Change from preview: Havner in. Whoever doesn't make it could wind up on the practice squad.

Secondary

Depth (14): Atari Bigby, Will Blackmon, Jarrett Bush, Nick Collins, Trevor Ford, Al Harris, Pat Lee, Charlie Peprah, Joe Porter, Aaron Rouse, Anthony Smith, Brandon Underwood, Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson.

Who makes it (10): Harris, Woodson, Collins, Bigby as starters; Blackmon, Bush, Lee, Rouse, Smith, Williams as reserves.

Who doesn't: Ford, Peprah, Porter, Underwood.

Position notes: Really, not much has changed since last season, with the top four corners and the starting safeties intact from last year. Blackmon remains ahead of Lee (out with a sore back) in the battle to be the fourth cornerback. Underwood, a cornerback taken in the sixth round, is way behind after missing most of the offseason work due to NCAA rules and part of training camp with an injury. Of the players vying to be reserves, Rouse is having the strongest camp. Change from preview: Rouse in; Underwood out. Underwood clearly is talented enough to make the practice squad.

Special teams

Depth (4): Durant Brooks, Mason Crosby, Brett Goode, Jeremy Kapinos.

Who makes it (3): Crosby (kicker), Goode (snapper), Kapinos (punter).

Who doesn't: Brooks.

Position notes: Actually, if the regular season started next week, the Packers might be bringing in a veteran punter. Between Kapinos and Brooks, Kapinos has been the most consistent. But has he been good enough?


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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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