Two weeks ago I analyzed what the Packers’ final 53-man roster might look like. Now with just six training camp practices remaining, and three preseason games including tonight’s Packers-Browns clash at Lambeau Field, let’s provide a position-by-position update:
Quarterback: The more preseason action Graham Harrell sees the better prepared he will be for the regular season. Packers coaches seem convinced he could adequately fill in for Aaron Rodgers. We will find that out in the next three games. As for B.J. Coleman, I like some of the throws he makes but with any rookie quarterback, he’s plagued by inconsistency. He is still destined for the practice squad.
Running back: What a difference two weeks can make. The arrival of Cedric Benson presumably changes everything. While there is no guarantee he will make the final roster, it seems a virtual certainty. His veterans-minimum contract is team-friendly. He is a capable starting-caliber back that in the past has stayed relatively healthy. That’s huge for the decimated Packers’ backs – there’s currently only three other healthy ball carriers besides Benson.
Who knows how long James Starks will miss with a turf toe injury, but the label “injury prone” is hampering his development. Alex Green has a chance to take a big step tonight and in the coming days. The odd man out will likely be Brandon Saine, who has missed two weeks with hamstring issues. John Kuhn should stick as the fourth back and lone fullback.
Receiver: Greg Jennings (concussion) hasn’t played in two weeks, but the Packers are being smart with him and want to ensure he will be ready for the regular season. Diondre Borel looked good early in camp before landing on the injured list, and now Tori Gurley has come on strong. The Packers can’t really keep seven receivers, can they? The choice for the sixth and final spot between Borel and Gurley remains up in the air. There’s always the chance the team trades James Jones to make room for both young players.
Tight ends: Nothing has changed other than Jermichael Finley missing significant practice time with a lingering quad injury. But Finley, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree and Ryan Taylor should stick.
Offensive line: The starting five is set, and it appears Derek Sherrod will begin the season on the PUP list. Evan Dietrich-Smith will be the top backup inside. That leaves two remaining spots, in all likelihood. Veteran Reggie Wells, picked up during training camp, might have a slight edge for one of the spots although that’s not a certainty. Rookie Andrew Datko has looked better since a rough start to camp, so I might give him a razor thin nod for the eighth and presumably final spot. Still in the running are tackle Herb Taylor and guards Don Barclay and Tommy Draheim.
Defensive line: They are expected to keep six, and four spots will go to B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and rookies Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels. C.J. Wilson has shown enough to merit keeping, which would leave one more spot. Philip Merling was slow out of the gate but has looked better of late, and Jarius Wynn and Daniel Muir are still in contention. But whomever lands the No. 6 job will likely give it up when Mike Neal returns after his four-game suspension.
Linebackers: With Desmond Bishop likely gone for the season with a ripped up hamstring, the four inside linebackers should be A.J. Hawk, D.J. Smith, Jamari Lattimore and rookie Terrell Manning, with Robert Francois not completely out of the picture but likely the odd man out. On the outside, Clay Matthews, first-round draft pick Nick Perry, Erik Walden and undrafted free agent Dezman Moses seem set. Assuming they keep 10, Vic So’oto and Brad Jones should stick.
Defensive backs: Davon House might not be healthy for the start of the season, which opens the door for rookie Casey Hayward to start opposite Tramon Williams at cornerback. Sam Shields and Jarrett Bush should see extensive action at corner. Charles Woodson can play safety or cornerback, and safeties Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings and rookie Jeron McMillian will stick around. Anthony Levine or Sean Richardson might have the inside track for the final spot.
Reach Vandermause at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MikeVandermause.