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It's fhe final push for players on the bubble

Aug. 23, 2012
 
Rookie offensive lineman Don Barclay (67) knows it's time to show the Green Bay Packers what he can do.
Rookie offensive lineman Don Barclay (67) knows it's time to show the Green Bay Packers what he can do. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
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Green Bay Packers rookie Don Barclay knew this day would eventually arrive.

After lining up at guard for better part of the last month, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound offensive lineman was finally asked to move out to left tackle during practice this past week, a position he started at for three seasons during his collegiate career at West Virgina.

While rookie tackle Andrew Datkoís concussion likely accelerated some of the second-team shifting, it was inevitable the teamís coaches were going to ask their reserve offensive line prospects to move around and demonstrate their versatility.

That pattern could continue tonight as the Packers are in Cincinnati to take on the Bengals in their third preseason game. Itís also the final contest before Mondayís first cutdown day to 75 players and second-to-last exhibition before next Fridayís 53-man roster reduction.

With the starters scheduled to play a full half, opportunities will not be as plentiful for the teamís undrafted hopefuls as the past two preseason games. However, those on the bubble still know the spotlight will be shining to prove they belong as the roster begins to shrink.

ďI think itís a big game,Ē Barclay said. ďEvery day you have to go out bottom line and produce, but the days are coming down to those cut dates and you definitely have to put that last impression on the coachesí minds, so I think this is huge.Ē

Of the Packersí current 90-man roster, exactly half have entered the league as undrafted free agents. Many of those players will be fighting for those coveted roster spots during the final week of training camp.

Some like inside linebacker Robert Francois have been there before.

Since going undrafted out of Boston College in 2009, Francois has been cut by three-fourths of the NFC North, including the Packers. He was among the final cuts during training camp two years ago and went on to split time between the active roster and practice squad before making the team last season.

Even now, these games hold huge importance for Francois, whoís likely competing with second-year pro Jamari Lattimore and rookie Terrell Manning for two reserve spots at inside linebacker.

ďItís huge,Ē Francois said. ďItís my resume pretty much, so to say. I just want to go out there and keep on making plays and put more good film out there.Ē

On Monday, Aug. 27, all NFL teams must reduced their roster to a maximum of 75 active players by 3 p.m. Central time before cutting down to a maximum of 53 active players by 8 p.m. CT on Friday, Aug. 31.

-- Weston Hodkiewicz, whodkiew@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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