The Packer Report: Final 53

Tough roster choices are looming at halfback, linebacker, defensive line and the defensive backfield. Packer Report examines those battles to tell you who will make the cut and who will be looking for work.

Once you get past the marquee players and the veterans, the star of the Packers' training camp and preseason has been undrafted running back Tyrell Sutton.

Sutton ranks second in the NFL in rushing in the preseason, his 5-foot-8 frame running around and through tacklers in the same fashion as he runs around and through the stereotypes that tend to get stuck on "small" backs. In his 27 preseason rushes, he's lost yardage once and got back to the line of scrimmage twice. The other 24 have gone for positive yardage, including four rushes of at least 10 yards and a whopping 16 carries of at least 5 yards.

His development means running back will be one of the toughest positions when general manager Ted Thompson has to make roster cuts. Rosters must be trimmed to 53 players by Sept. 5 (the relatively inconsequential cut to 75 is on Sept. 1). Players can be signed to the practice squad the following day.

The following is our assessment of the roster through two preseason games. The number of players at each position follows what the Packers typically do but is not set in stone.


Quarterbacks (3): Projection — Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, TBA. Cut — Brian Brohm. Toughest cut — Brohm. Why? — Brohm might stick based on draft status and the hope that the hot-shot quarterback who carved up pretty good Big East defenses while at Louisville will emerge at some point. At this point, though, the Packers would be better off with Brian Griese or whoever the Vikings get rid of.

Running backs (4): Projection — Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn, Tyrell Sutton. Cut — Kregg Lumpkin. Toughest cut — None. Why? — Carrying four running backs is a luxury but Sutton has played so well that some back-starved team would snatch him off waivers before he could be signed to the practice squad. Fortunately, the Packers have wiggle room because of a certain tight end/linebacker. Jackson is having a strong camp and Wynn's blitz-pickup skills are an enormous asset. Lumpkin has taken a step back from last year, and his fumble against Buffalo doesn't help his cause.

Fullbacks (2): Projection — Korey Hall, Quinn Johnson. Cut — John Kuhn. Toughest cut — Kuhn. Why? — Hall and Kuhn are clearly better than Johnson, but Johnson's potential is immense. Hall is the better all-around player — but not by much. This is practically a coin flip, but Hall has improved as a blocker and is a slightly better player on special teams.

Kole Heckendorf.
Mark Wallenfang/Packer Report
Wide receivers (5): Projection — Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Ruvell Martin. Cuts — Jake Allen, Brett Swain, Kole Heckendorf, JaRon Harris. Toughest cut — None. Why? — Why mess with success? Based purely on catching the ball and making plays, Swain might be better than Martin, but Martin is a big guy who enjoys the dirty work. The 6-foot-4 Allen, however, has more upside than all of them. Swain, Allen and Heckendorf look like solid practice squad candidates.

Tight ends (3): Projection — Donald Lee, Jermichael Finley, Spencer Havner. Cut — Evan Moore. Toughest cut — None. After playing linebacker throughout college and his first three years in the NFL, Havner has been a surprise at tight end. His ability to add depth at two spots is why the Packers can keep Sutton (or an additional linebacker). Regardless of whether he starts, Finley seems set to have a huge year.

Offensive line (9): Projection — Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Josh Sitton, Allen Barbre, T.J. Lang, Breno Giacomini, Scott Wells, Jamon Meredith. Cuts — Tony Moll, Duke Preston, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Andrew Hartline, Dane Randolph. Toughest cut — Moll. Why? — The big decision here is whether Thompson thinks Meredith can make it to the practice squad. If so, Moll will stick and Meredith will be released. Meredith has improved throughout camp and is a potential heir to Chad Clifton's spot at left tackle, but at this point, he's not ready for the NFL. Moll's versatility is a huge asset, but the Packers are set with backups at center (Wells), guard (T.J. Lang or Spitz, with Wells moving in at center), right tackle (Giacomini) and left tackle (Colledge is a better option than Moll, who has spent the entire offseason and camp at left tackle). Dietrich-Smith is a definite practice squad candidate.


Defensive line (6): Projection — Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, B.J. Raji, Johnny Jolly, Michael Montgomery, Jarius Wynn. Injured reserve — Justin Harrell. Cuts — Ronald Talley, Alfred Malone, Anthony Toribio, Dean Muhtadi. Toughest cut — None. Why? — With a healthy Harrell, the Packers would have had to choose between the veteran Montgomery and the rookie Wynn. Now, it's pretty easy. But, this could be a position the Packers want to fortify with a bigger body. In that case, Wynn gets the nod based on potential. The undrafted Talley is definitely someone to consider for the practice squad.

A.J. Hawk goes high against Brandon Jackson.
Mark Wallenfang/Packer Report
Linebackers (9): Projection — Aaron Kampman, Brady Poppinga, Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews III, Brandon Chillar, Desmond Bishop, Brad Jones, Jeremy Thompson, Havner (listed in the tight end count). Cuts — Cyril Obiozor, Danny Lansanah, Stryker Sulak. Toughest cut — Obiozor. Why? — Poppinga went from a 50-50 proposition at the start of camp, when he seemed hopelessly stuck behind ironman Kampman at left outside linebacker, to the presumed starter at right outside linebacker, because Matthews and Thompson haven't been healthy. So, it's Jones and Obiozor batting for the last spot. Obiozor won Round 1 vs. Cleveland (Jones didn't play while recovering from a strained back), and Jones won Round 2 vs. Buffalo with a sack and forced fumble. Teams around the league are watching to see who gets cut among Obiozor, Jones and Lansanah. It might be wishful thinking to hide any of them on the practice squad.

Secondary (9): Projection — Charles Woodson, Al Harris, Atari Bigby, Nick Collins, Tramon Williams, Will Blackmon, Pat Lee, Anthony Smith, Jarrett Bush. Cuts — Aaron Rouse, Charlie Peprah, Brandon Underwood, Joe Porter, Trevor Ford. Toughest cut — Rouse. Why? — Rouse was having a good camp but a hamstring injury struck at the wrong time. In a three-way battle between Rouse, Peprah and Bush, Bush gets the nod because he's a "starter" on all of the special teams, and he can play corner in a pinch. Underwood, a talented but raw sixth-round pick, is a strong candidate for the practice squad. He's been coming on strong.

Special teams

Projection (3) — Mason Crosby (kicker), Jeremy Kapinos (punter), Brett Goode (snapper). Cuts — Durant Brooks (punter). Toughest cut — None. Why? — Brooks is injured, and that hip fiexor is a long-term concern. Kapinos kicked the leather off the ball on Monday night and had a good performance against Buffalo.

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

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