The Countdown: Roster Rankings

In Part 5 of our second-annual roster rankings, from No. 51 to No. 55, we include a rookie running back and three players who will have to make their mark on special teams.

With training camp 14 days away, we're in the throes of the dog days of summer. The Packers have 82 players on their roster, not including the suspended Johnny Jolly. The limit is 80, but the four unsigned draft picks don't count until they're officially under contract, and restricted free agent safety Atari Bigby doesn't count until he signs his tender.

Like we did last year, we're ranking 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: 51

Funny how things work out. C.J. Wilson was supposed to be ranked 51st but obviously moves up the pecking order with Jolly's year-long suspension. So, in order to not screw up the numbering, this spot is vacated.

Packer Report Ranking: 52

James Starks: Starks' role will be linked to how quickly he picks up the playbook and how quickly he learns the fundamentals the Packers demand of their running backs. As a runner and a receiver, he has the potential to be an immediate difference-maker — either taking some of the early-down load off of workhorse Ryan Grant or entering the game in passing situations because of his pass-catching ability. But to get an early-down role, he'll need to eliminate the fumbles that plagued him at Buffalo. And to get a third-down role, he'll have to become a reliable pass protector. It will be all about trust.

Packer Report Ranking: 53

Derrick Martin: As poorly as Martin played at safety when thrust into the starting lineup for an injured Bigby at Minnesota in Week 4, he was one of the few consistently good players on a beleaguered special teams. He plays with great energy and is a coach's dream in the locker room. He had five special teams tackles against Pittsburgh. Martin played cornerback at Baltimore before being acquired at the end of training camp for backup offensive tackle Tony Moll. Maybe he'll be better at safety with a year in the system, because he was so poor last year that Dom Capers decided linebacker Brandon Chillar was a better alternative.

Packer Report Ranking: 54

Jarrett Bush: The player fans love to hate, Bush had an up-and-down season on special teams and was horrendous at cornerback. It's not entirely his fault. Bush was signed to a three-year, $4.5 million contract to bring his energy and attitude to special teams. The coaches never planned on him playing a ton of snaps at cornerback, but that's what happens when the depth is wiped out by injuries to three top players on the depth chart. He needs to be kept on the bench on defense and play smarter on special teams, where he had four penalties last season.

Packer Report Ranking: 55

Sam Shields: Bush, however, is no lock to make the roster. Assuming everyone stays healthy, the final roster spot for a defensive back very well could come down to Bush vs. Shields. Shields, an undrafted rookie out of Miami, has remarkable speed and excelled in college doing the special teams work that Bush does for the Packers. Given how poorly Bush played at corner last year, it's safe to say that Shields offers more upside on defense. And if he learns how to catch, Shields could offer a threat as a kick returner.

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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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