Green Bay Packers' final roster should look like this

Sep. 2, 2011

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Ted Thompson calls this his least favorite weekend of the year.

The Green Bay Packersí general manager must slash 27 players from the team, a whopping 34 percent reduction in the work force.

Here is my verdict on what the Packersí 53-man roster will look like when Thompson puts down his ax:

Quarterbacks (3)

Keep: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell.

Cut: No one.

Analysis: The Packers no longer can afford to stash the up-and-coming Harrell on the practice squad. He is in line to become Flynnís successor as the No. 2 quarterback next season.

Running backs (4)

Keep: Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green, John Kuhn.

Cut: Quinn Johnson, Dimitri Nance, Jon Hoese, Brandon Saine.

Analysis: Itís a gamble to have only four running backs at an injury-plagued position. But something has to give in order to keep an extra tight end. Grant, Starks and Green are capable of sharing the load, which increases their chances of staying healthy. Johnson isnít as good on special teams as some of the extra tight ends, thus he is the odd man out.

Receivers (5)

Keep: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb.

Cut: Tori Gurley, Chastin West, Diondre Borel, Kerry Taylor, Shaky Smithson.

Analysis: Itís possible the Packers will make a bold move to retain Gurley or West. One option is to trade Jones, who hasnít seen much action during the preseason. That could mean the Packers want him healthy to increase his marketability.

Tight ends (5)

Keep: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor.

Cut: No one.

Analysis: Itís unusual to have five tight ends, but all bring value to the team. Taylor is a special teams ace, and the Packers in a pinch could use a tight end in a fullback role.

Offensive linemen (9)

Keep: Chad Clifton, T.J. Lang, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod, Marshall Newhouse, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Caleb Schlauderaff.

Cut: Nick McDonald, Chris Campbell, Ray Dominguez, Sampson Genus.

Analysis: McDonald played poorly against the Chiefs, with a bad shotgun snap leading to a safety. Dietrich-Smith looks more reliable as the backup center, and Schlauderaff, a rookie, has displayed more potential than McDonald at guard. There might be a temptation to keep only eight at this position and stash Schlauderaff on the practice squad, but the Packers never have kept fewer than nine offensive linemen over the past five seasons.

Defensive linemen (6)

Keep: B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, Howard Green, C.J. Wilson, Jarius Wynn.

Cut: Lawrence Guy, Jay Ross, Chris Donaldson, Eli Joseph.

Analysis: The Packers like Guyís potential. He battled concussion issues during training camp and should land on the practice squad.

Linebackers (9)

Keep: Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Erik Walden, Vic Soíoto, D.J. Smith, Robert Francois, Brad Jones, Frank Zombo.

Cut: Jamari Lattimore, Cardia Jackson, Elijah Joseph, Ricky Elmore.

Analysis: Soíoto secured a roster spot with a monster game against the Chiefs that included 1Ĺ sacks, a forced fumble and interception return for a touchdown. The Packers need nine linebackers because Zomboís broken shoulder blade will sideline him until at least October.

Cornerbacks (6)

Keep: Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush, Davon House, Pat Lee.

Cut: Josh Gordy, Brandian Ross.

Analysis: Lee saved his job with a decent performance in the final preseason game ó he recovered two fumbles against the Chiefs and returned one 68 yards. House will stick if he can stay healthy, but thatís a big if.

Safeties (3)

Keep: Nick Collins, Morgan Burnett, Charlie Peprah.

Cut: Brandon Underwood, Anthony Levine, M.D. Jennings, Anthony Bratton.

Analysis: To keep a ninth linebacker the Packers must leave themselves short in the secondary. Bush has played safety and could shift from cornerback if needed. Underwood hasnít done enough to earn a job, and Levine has missed half of training camp with a concussion.

Specialists (3)

Keep: Tim Masthay, Mason Crosby, Brett Goode.

Cut: No one.

Analysis: This is as settled and secure as the Packers have felt in a long time with their specialists.

Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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