From 1 to 89: Rookie vs. Vet

Part 3 of our fifth-annual series leads off with undrafted Jonathan Amosa challenging John Kuhn at fullback. Plus, two young players who might miss the season, three young blockers and the battle at defensive line.

As we've done in past years, we're counting down the Green Bay Packers' roster, from No. 89 to No. 1.

These rankings are not simply based on skill. Players were ranked on their importance to the team. Skill, a player's position, the depth of his position group, the odds he contributes, salary and draft history all play a part in how a player is ranked. More than the ranking itself, hopefully you will learn a little something about each of the 89 players in the process.

No. 61: Challenging Kuhn

Could John Kuhn's roster spot be on shaky ground?

Kuhn has been a multidimensional weapon for coach Mike McCarthy, whether it's as a traditional lead-blocking fullback, a third-down back or short-yardage runner.

However, with fourth-round pick Johnathan Franklin, the Packers probably won't need Kuhn in the third-down role. And with second-round pick Eddie Lacy, the Packers probably don't need Kuhn to carry the ball on third-and-1.

So there's an opening for Jonathan Amosa, an undrafted rookie from Washington who earned a roster spot after trying out at the rookie camp. Amosa spent his first three years at Washington at linebacker before becoming the team's primary fullback for his final two seasons. If Amosa shines as a blocker, he might unseat the popular Kuhn, who is entering his final season under contract and has a cap charge of $2.54 million.

No. 62: Lost season?

The timing of Jerel Worthy's torn ACL hardly could have been worse. Coming in last year's regular-season finale, the injury not only knocked Worthy out for the playoffs but put his 2013 in jeopardy.

Worthy needed this offseason. He got a ton of playing time last season and was featured prominently as a nickel pass rusher, but he didn't make much of an impact. In 14 games, he registered 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. His one tackle for every 20.3 snaps was by far the worst rate among the Packers' defensive linemen. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Worthy had a total of nine pressures in 287 pass-rushing snaps, a rate that ranked 27th out of 31 3-4 defensive ends.

"I'm not really putting a time limit on it," Worthy said of the injury. "They will see me at some point in time this season. The earliest I can be back and be most effective, I'm ready to go. I'm just going to try to continue to working and keep continuing to keep striving. I haven't had any setbacks to this point. It's all been positive coming from my corner, so I just want to continue to stay on that path and continue to get better."

No. 63: It's his time

Tight end is one of the Packers' deepest positions. First-year player Brandon Bostick will battle veteran D.J. Williams and undrafted rookie Jake Stoneburner for an H-back role.

Bostick, a standout wide receiver at Division II Newberry, went undrafted in 2012 and failed to earn a contract after trying out at the rookie camp. He was signed a month later and wound up spending the year on the practice squad. His receiver background and his speed to stretch the middle of the field make him an intriguing talent. Williams is the front-runner for that role, but he's hardly got it sewed up with nine catches in two seasons.

"I'm a lot better (than at this time last year)," Bostick said. "I've made drastic gains – I know the playbook and I've put on more weight. My blocking has improved. I think I've made that step and now it's time to take another step and make the 53."

No. 64: Swing tackle?

David Bakhtiari, the first of the team's three fourth-round picks, played in 34 games in his three seasons at Colorado. He started 33 contests — 22 at left tackle and 11 at right tackle. He closed his career with an 88.0 percent grade for blocking consistency, the best for any active offensive tackle in the Pac-12. In 2012, he led the team with a blocking consistency grade of 89.8 percent, as he recorded 94 knockdowns and 10 touchdown-resulting blocks while allowing 2.5 sacks.

"He's got very good feet," offensive line coach James Campen said. "He's got quickness. Explosive out of his stance. He did a very nice job."

Bakhtiari played left tackle with the second team and right tackle with the third team during offseason practices. His chances of making the roster and contributing hinge on his play, obviously, but also who wins at right tackle (Marshall Newhouse, Don Barclay) and the development of 2012 first-round pick Derek Sherrod. If Barclay beats out Newhouse, it could be Bakhtiari battling Newhouse for a spot.

No. 65: Inside linebacker logjam

Even with the offseason releases of D.J. Smith and Desmond Bishop, the Packers are stacked at inside linebacker. Still, seventh-round pick Sam Barrington will earn a roster spot if he can make his presence felt on special teams and show some long-range potential as an every-down linebacker.

"Great kid," inside linebackers coach Winston Moss said. "He's real attentive with his class work. He has a lot of great tools. He wants to learn, he wants to get everything done. He can run and he gives great effort. This is a lot to learn. So, like with every other guy, he's going through the process of trying to learn what in the hell is going on. Once he settles down, I'm going to be very interested to see what exactly he brings to the table. He's going to give great effort, he's going to run, he's going to be able to cover guys and challenge guys. We'll give him opportunities to see what he can do."

No. 66: Talented UDFA

Lane Taylor (6-3, 324) surprisingly was not drafted after starting 47 games at guard at Oklahoma State. He was a two-time all-Big 12 performer, including first-team accolades as a senior. He did not allow a sack in his final two seasons.

"It was a good accomplishment because we threw the ball a lot, so not to give up a sack is something I pride myself on," he said after taking a pre-draft visit to Green Bay. "I never want to get my quarterback sacked."

Taylor's $7,000 signing bonus was tops among the Packers' undrafted rookies. He worked with the second team throughout the offseason and has a chance to be the No. 1 backup at both guard slots.

No. 67: Left side

Andrew Datko, a seventh-round pick in 2012, spent his first year in the NFL on the practice squad, getting stronger physically and getting past the shoulder problems that ruined what could have been a superlative career at Florida State.

"It was a little struggle for me strength-wise but now I've really had a full offseason to get stronger," Datko said. "You can really see it up top. I feel so much better strength-wise."

Datko, a left tackle by trade, spent the offseason practices working mostly at left guard. He's got a shot at being the primary left-side backup.

No. 68 and No. 69: Backup defensive line

The Packers' defensive line seems pretty well solidified, with B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Datone Jones and Mike Neal sure to take four spots, C.J. Wilson a pretty good bet for a fifth and Mike Daniels a decent bet for a sixth. Plus, a fifth-round pick was used on Josh Boyd and Johnny Jolly is attempting a comeback after a three-year suspension.

That means Jordan Miller (6-1, 316) and undrafted rookie Gilbert Pena (6-2, 330) are long shots to make the roster, though the attrition of training camp could change those odds.

Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac is intrigued by Miller. Miller went undrafted out of Southern in 2011 and spent 16 weeks on the Bears' practice squad before a Week 17 promotion. He failed to make Chicago's roster in 2012, joined Green Bay's practice squad on Oct. 23 and earned a late-season call-up to the 53-man roster. He played in the second half of a blowout win against Tennessee. He's big enough to play the run and Trgovac has seen some pass-rush potential.

"Jordan's got a really good punch," Trgovac said. "The thing I like about him is it looks to me like he can play some nose, as well. He's got a good body size for nose and we've been playing him there. He's done a nice job this camp. We'll find out when the pads come on."

Pena went undrafted out of Mississippi and is a 26-year-old rookie after spending four years helping his cancer-stricken mom. He's a big body, which could be key with Raji and Pickett entering their final seasons under contract.

"I actually thought I was going to get drafted," said Pena, who was lured by a $5,000 signing bonus. "I'm not mad about anything. I'm not disappointed about anything. I'm happy that I'm here. I'm glad I got an opportunity. I just thought I'd get drafted. It didn't matter. When I did get that call from the Packers, I was like, quickly, ‘This is where I want to be.' I kind of had it in my heart that this is where I wanted to be. I'm glad I'm here."

No. 70: Lost season, Part 2

With the second of their three fourth-round picks, the Packers drafted Cornell offensive lineman J.C. Tretter. Tretter played tight end and left tackle at Cornell, and the Packers hoped he'd become a jack-of-all-trades blocker capable of playing tackle, guard or center. Instead, on the first day of organized team activities, Tretter broke his ankle and tore a ligament during a fumble-recovery drill. He had surgery and could miss the entire season.


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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.


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