5 Packers players cut Saturday signed by other teams

Four were at training camp, fifth is former Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien

Sep. 1, 2013
Ex-Packers player D.J. Williams.
Ex-Packers player D.J. Williams.

A year ago, the Green Bay Packers had the pick of the litter when it came to establishing an eight-man practice squad after none of their roster cuts were claimed by other NFL teams.

This year, no such luck.

After handing out 22 pink slips during Saturday’s NFL-mandated roster reduction to 53 players, the Packers watched five of those recently released players land elsewhere through the league’s waiver wire.

Three were veterans — outside linebacker Dezman Moses (Kansas City), running back Alex Green (New York Jets) and tight end D.J. Williams (Jacksonville) — but two others — rookie center Patrick Lewis (Cleveland) and second-year linebacker Terrell Manning (San Diego) — would’ve been practice-squad eligible had they cleared.

In each of the past two seasons, the Packers have filled their eight-man scout team with seven players who went to camp in Green Bay, but Press-Gazette Media confirmed only four through Sunday evening.

That list included tight end Jake Stoneburner, cornerback James Nixon, and receivers Myles White and Charles Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 216-pound product of Grand Valley State who was a seventh-round pick in April’s NFL draft.

An NFL source also confirmed the Packers signed former Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien to the practice squad following a workout. The 6-foot-3, 208-pound signal-caller spent the past two seasons with the San Francisco, whom the Packers open the regular season against next Sunday.

“I think for the most part it’s been our history to do what we’ve probably done with the guys who were here,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. “We usually have a few guys every year that were somewhere else. Some sort of mix like that.”

Squeezing Manning, a fifth-round pick in 2012, onto the scout team might have been a minor miracle, but sources indicated the Packers made a strong push to stash the 6-foot-1, 311-pound pound Lewis on the practice squad before discovering he’d been claimed by the Browns.

Losing out on Manning and Lewis likely means the Packers will have to pillage elsewhere. The Packers brought in five players to work out on Sunday, including former Oakland receiver Sam McGuffie, who later tweeted he was staying in Green Bay until Monday while the team decides whether to sign him.

Along with veteran running back/returner Joe McKnight, ESPN reported the Packers worked out two offensive linemen on Sunday in Chandler Burden and Bryan Collins, who are both practice-squad eligible.

There’s still a chance they could retain some camp holdovers like offensive tackle Andrew Datko, a seventh-round tackle in 2012 who was still awaiting word on if he’d back on the practice squad for a second season, while other victims of Saturday’s cuts like fullback Jonathan Amosa and cornerback Loyce Means were flown home on Sunday.

The battle between Lewis and second-year pro Greg Van Roten for the backup center job behind Evan Dietrich-Smith was one of the more hotly contested battles of camp, but the Packers opted to stick with familiarity at the spot and try to pocket Lewis on their scout team.

It didn’t work as the four-year starter at Texas A&M, who signed for $4,000 following April’s draft, departed for Cleveland and likely leaves at least one spot open for an offensive lineman on the practice squad.

On Sunday, Thompson wasn’t concerned about getting the short end of the stick with the losses. Although the team didn’t get anything for the five players it lost to waivers, the Packers’ general manager didn’t second-guess whether a trade could have been executed.

The fact 40 other players were claimed on Sunday speaks to that in Thompson’s mind.

“We have a lot of conversations with all the different teams around the league and everybody fishes and everybody tries to find out what’s going on,” Thompson said. “There wasn’t quite frankly – league-wide up through (Saturday)’s notice there wasn’t a lot of trades. I think there was one maybe.”

■ The 2011 NFL draft continues to serve as a blemish in Thompson’s otherwise perennially consistent classes with the release of Green and Williams. That leaves only three of 10 players from that draft still on the Packers’ active roster.

When asked about the 2011 draft on Sunday, Thompson attempted to rebuff the notion the class has been underwhelming to this point, but wound up agreeing in a round-a-bout way that it’s provided few faces worth remembering outside of second-round pick Randall Cobb.

“I haven’t thought about it. I don’t even remember all the guys,” said Thompson, who drafted injured tackle Derek Sherrod in the first round that year. “But if it wasn’t a good draft, it wasn’t a good draft. A lot of those guys if we just released them, they played and have done some things to help this team win a bunch of games the last two years.”

■ The Packers’ decision to go light at running back and releasing run-blocking tight end Matthew Mulligan could be seen as a sign the team is bailing on its offseason initiative to revamp its run game.

However, Thompson contests it had more to do with the progress Andrew Quarless has made coming off knee surgery and maturation of practice-squad holdover Brandon Bostick more than the 6-foot-4, 267-pound Mulligan’s skill set not fitting into the Packers’ scheme.

“No, I think that speaks more to the other tight ends that we have,” Thompson said.

“In Matthew’s defense, we have more body work with those guys because they’ve been here practicing and playing over the course of the last couple years. ... I just think the body types and length and pass catching ability and that sort of thing.”

■ De Pere High School graduate Drew Nowak signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad, the 6-3, 300-pound offensive lineman confirmed on Sunday.

Nowak spent all of last season on the Jaguars’ injured reserve list after sustaining an ankle injury near the end of camp and is still in the midst of converting from a defensive lineman at Western Michigan to offensive line in the NFL.

—Pete Dougherty contributed to this report.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
579 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
862 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
1025 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
1278 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports


Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports