The Packer Report: The Final 53

With final cuts set to be turned into the league office in the next few hours, we take our best shot at predicting the final roster. Injuries in the defensive backfield make this particularly difficult. UPDATE: This story was updated again at 5:35 p.m. Central to reflect some cuts that we've learned and confirmed.

Early cuts

— Just a reminder that players can be added to the practice squad beginning at 11 a.m. (Central) on Sunday. All players released Saturday can be claimed on waivers, so there's no guarantee that any of the players released by the team will be added to the practice squad.

— Still waiting for the official announcement on the final roster moves, which were due into league offices moments ago, but we have learned the Packers have put defensive end Justin Harrell on injured reserve as well as cornerback Pat Lee. And promising rookies Tyrell Sutton and Jamon Meredith were released.

— In a sort-of-Packers-related note, the Broncos signed defensive end Vonnie Holliday to play end in their 3-4 scheme.

— Reportedly, Scott Wells is on the roster as is fellow center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Also, safety Charlie Peprah (knee) will be waived with an injury settlement.

In news from earlier ...

— Packer Report has learned that running back Kregg Lumpkin will be released today. Lumpkin, an undrafted free agent in 2008 after an injury-plagued career at Georgia, won a roster spot as a rookie but had a quiet preseason this year until rushing for 34 yards and one touchdown on nine carries at Tennessee on Thursday. An injured hamstring suffered early last season landed him on injured reserve.

— We also have learned that undrafted outside linebacker Cyril Obiozor was released, and the team isn't hopeful it will be able to re-sign him to the practice squad, a source said.

— The agent for Brandon Underwood says Underwood has made the 53-man roster. He said that even after ...

— The Packers traded Tony Moll to Baltimore for cornerback Derrick Martin. We have a separate story on that.

— As Packer Report was the first locally to confirm, the Packers will release Brian Brohm. We have a separate story on that, as well.

— The Green Bay Press-Gazette is reporting that undrafted rookie nose tackle Dean Muhtadi, undrafted right tackle Dane Randolph and undrafted cornerback Trevor Ford will be released. Ronald Talley is out too, and the Packers would like to keep the defensive end on the practice squad.

— Tyrell Sutton, as we predicted, was released, we have confirmed. They'll try to get him on the practice squad, and with the amount of young talent at running back in the league, they might be able to do it.



Predicting the final 53

No doubt, Friday night was a sleepless one for several members of the Green Bay Packers.

By 5 p.m. Saturday (a recent change from the previously scheduled 3 p.m.), the Packers will have cut their roster from 75 players to 53. Who's in and who's out? Packer Report, which watched every practice and has talked to the coaches repeatedly, makes its best guess.

Quarterbacks (3): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Brian Brohm. Out: None.

Judging by coach Mike McCarthy's comments, if Brohm didn't have a job wrapped up before Thursday's game, he's got it wrapped up now.

Running backs (3): Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn. Out: Tyrell Sutton, Kregg Lumpkin.

With Jackson possibly out for the opener with a sprained ankle, the Packers would like to keep a fourth. Sutton, with his elusiveness and receiving ability, provides a change of pace the backfield craves. But injuries in the secondary prevent the Packers from carrying four — and four halfbacks in a pass-first offense with a workhorse runner in Grant seems like too much of a luxury. One other possibility: Wynn seemed to be a lock because of his pass-blocking ability, but Grant was put into that role late in camp. Maybe it's Jackson and Sutton in reserve, under the Ted Thompson premise of turning over the roster with young talent. More likely, though, the Packers hope they can get Sutton onto the practice squad.

Fullbacks (2): Korey Hall, Quinn Johnson. Out: John Kuhn.

There's probably no chance the Packers can release Johnson and save him on the practice squad. Flip a coin between Hall and Kuhn. It appeared Kuhn was out of his lane during a long kickoff return against the Titans.

Tight ends (3): Donald Lee, Jermichael Finley, Spencer Havner. Out: Evan Moore.

Havner has proven to be an adept receiver. Not bad for a linebacker whose specialty is special teams. Moore, who fought through training camp with a broken finger, deserves another chance and a spot on the practice squad.

Wide receivers (5): Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Ruvell Martin. Out: Brett Swain, Jake Allen, Kole Heckendorf.

Swain took one for the team by playing cornerback on Thursday, but the selfless Martin has done nothing to lose his grasp on the fifth spot. Since he's not a regular in the punt-return rotation at practice, his fumble against the Titans means nothing. Swain probably gets another practice squad invite. Allen, at 6-foot-4, could get an invite too, and Heckendorf has been more than just a feel-good story as a Wisconsin native.

Offensive line (9): Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Josh Sitton, Allen Barbre, Jamon Meredith, T.J. Lang, Scott Wells, Breno Giacomini. Out: Tony Moll, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Dane Randolph, Andrew Hartline.

Moll has been a handy utilityman but if the Packers can only keep nine linemen, then the potential of Meredith, an athletic left tackle prospect, gets the nod. Meredith is a possible left tackle of the future while Moll has proven to be average, at best. Wells, with a track record as a starter, could be traded, which would give the impressive Dietrich-Smith a promotion to the 53-man roster. Any deal had better be a good one, though, because Wells provides great depth.

Defensive line (6): Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly, B.J. Raji, Michael Montgomery, Jarius Wynn. Injured reserve: Justin Harrell. Out: Alfred Malone, Ronald Talley, Anthony Toribio, Dean Muhtadi.

The wild card here is Harrell. If the Packers are confident Harrell can contribute this season, then either Montgomery or Wynn are out or they have to keep a seventh defensive lineman — which would diminish the depth somewhere else. Wynn, a rookie sixth-round pick, makes an eye-opening play or two at every practice or in every game. Talley is a strong candidate for the practice squad, as is Toribio because he's a gritty little plugger who could fill in at nose tackle if there's an injury.

Linebackers (9): Aaron Kampman, Brady Poppinga, A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett, Jeremy Thompson, Clay Matthews III, Brandon Chillar, Desmond Bishop, Brad Jones. Out: Cyril Obiozor, Danny Lansanah.

The first eight are no-brainers, and the Packers would like to keep Jones, the athletic seventh-round pick out of Colorado who has played well since recovering from a back strain suffered during the pre-training camp conditioning test. Obiozor is a must-have on the practice squad. Lansanah probably signs elsewhere.

Secondary (10): Charles Woodson, Al Harris, Nick Collins, Atari Bigby, Tramon Williams, Will Blackmon, Anthony Smith, Jarrett Bush, Joe Porter, Aaron Rouse. Injured reserve: Pat Lee, Charlie Peprah, C. Out: Brandon Underwood, Trevor Ford.

This is the toughest group here, with Blackmon, Underwood, Lee, Rouse and Peprah all injured. Unless Blackmon or Lee are certain to be ready for Chicago, Porter — or someone off the waiver wire — is the long-shot winner for a game or two because of the injuries to the three corners. Bush, a talented special-teams player, could be that fourth corner in a pinch but he seems better at safety. And because he can play safety, Rouse could be out as well. The big safety, who is out with an injured hamstring, isn't much of a factor on special teams while Bush is a "starter" on all four of the major units. Releasing Rouse (or putting him on injured reserve) to keep only nine defensive backs would give the Packers the ability to keep Sutton. Underwood showed better at practice than during the games and will get a practice squad invite.

Special teams (3): Jeremy Kapinos, Mason Crosby, Brett Goode. Out: None.

If Kapinos can carry his strong preseason into the regular season, they will be set at punter. Crosby, with his 5-of-10 preseason and sub-80 percent accuracy in his first two regular seasons, needs to get in a groove quickly. Goode is, well, good.

Practice squad (8)

Players can be named to the practice squad at 11 a.m. Sunday. Usually, it's a half-and-half mix of Packers and other teams' castoffs, so maybe this list is too Packers-centric: Sutton, Moore, Swain, Heckendorf, Dietrich-Smith, Toribio, Talley, Underwood.


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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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