Getting to 53: Havner Tops Cuts

The Packers announced their transactions on Saturday evening, with 20 players released and two others put on injured reserve. Among those moves were a smattering of surprises, led by the release of tight end Spencer Havner.

The Green Bay Packers reduced their roster to the league-mandated 53 players on Saturday evening by outright releasing 20 players, with safety/kick returner Will Blackmon and tackle/guard Allen Barbre to be waived off injured reserve with injury settlements.

The list of cuts: punter Chris Bryan, tackle Chris Campbell, wide receiver Jason Chery, cornerback D.J. Clark, center/guard Evan Dietrich-Smith, wide receiver Charles Dillon, linebacker Robert Francois, tackle Breno Giacomini, quarterback Graham Harrell, tight end Spencer Havner, linebacker Alex Joseph, safety Anthony Levine, running back Kregg Lumpkin, linebacker Cyril Obiozor, linebacker Maurice Simpkins, defensive end Ronald Talley, nose tackle Anthony Toribio, wide receiver Chastin West, wide receiver Patrick Williams and defensive end Jarius Wynn.

The major moves differed on the range of surprises.

What was not a surprise was that Bryan was released in favor of Tim Masthay. While Bryan is a solid punting prospect, Masthay was more Week 1-ready.

In a small surprise, the Packers released defensive end Jarius Wynn, a sixth-round pick in 2009 who played in 11 games last season. It wasn't that Wynn tore up the preseason but that rookie seventh-round pick C.J. Wilson wasn't that impressive, either. With the release of Wynn and nose tackle Anthony Toribio, 2007 first-round pick Justin Harrell not only earned a roster spot but a role on the defense.

In a mild surprise, Dietrich-Smith was released in favor of Jason Spitz. Dietrich-Smith is a promising prospect at center and had a strong preseason, but the Packers elected not to trade Spitz, even though their phone rang with suitors.

In a big surprise, the Packers released Havner, who last season scored four touchdowns as a tight end and ranked third on the team with 20 tackles on special teams. He also looked like a viable option at inside linebacker during the preseason, though that is a position of strength. Havner simply was the odd man out in a deep tight end group. Behind Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee lends a proven, veteran presence, fifth-round rookie Andrew Quarless is loaded with potential and first-year player Tom Crabtree offers a valuable blocking and special-teams presence. In fact, Lee and Crabtree had larger roles on special teams in the preseason than Havner, who the Packers attempted to trade.

While the players who survived the roster bubble can breathe a sign of relief, they had better not celebrate. The Packers could go after a player that's on waivers and trades remain an option.

The deadline to put in a waiver claim is at 11 a.m. (Central) on Sunday, at which point players can be signed to the eight-man practice squad. Some possibilities from the Packers' cuts: quarterback Graham Harrell, running back Lumpkin, offensive tackles Campbell or Giacomini, receivers Dillon, West or Williams, defensive linemen Toribio and Talley, linebackers Obiozor and Joseph, and defensive backs Clark and Levine.

Blackmon was the team's only quality punt returner but his surgically repaired knee — he tore his ACL in Week 4 at Minnesota — failed to respond, slowing his move from cornerback to safety. He played in two of the four preseason games. Like Barbre (back), Blackmon will be waived with an injury settlement. In that, the agent and the team agree that a player will remain on injured reserve for a negotiated period of time, with the player earning that many weeks of pay. Once that period expires, he is released and becomes a free agent.

The transactions leave the Packers with two halfbacks and three fullbacks, four tight ends and eight linebackers.

The noteworthy players to survive the bubble include all three fullbacks, undrafted center/guard Nick McDonald, defensive end Justin Harrell and cornerback Jarrett Bush.


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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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