Who's in, who's out: Predicting the final 53
Guess it's safe to say the Green Bay Packers won't be cutting Jayrone Elliott.
They'll be keeping Jeff Janis, too.
That still leaves a few spots at the bottom of the roster up for debate.
As for the quarterback question, injuries in their 34-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night have improved the odds of keeping three, though I still don't see why they need to. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien is the better call.
Either way, in a nutshell it could come down to two roster spots for the following: a third quarterback; cornerback Jumal Rolle; tight end Jake Stoneburner; defensive lineman Carlos Gray; a sixth receiver (Myles White or Kevin Dorsey); and an offensive lineman picked up from another team.
General manager Ted Thompson has to turn in his final cuts by 3 p.m. Saturday. Following is the best guess on how things will turn out, position by position.
Coming into Thursday, I was leaning toward Flynn as the No. 2. He's done it in real games — the Packers went 2-2-1 in games he finished last season, including coming back from a bad first half at Dallas to win the game. But after Thursday night, I'm leaning Tolzien. A little more upside because of age (26 to Flynn's 29) and arm strength.
Who knows what coach Mike McCarthy really thinks, either about keeping three or who is the No. 2? In his postgame news conference he first said both made strong cases to make the roster, then in another question said that everyone's competing against not only their own position but the rest of the roster.
The case for keeping three improved maybe significantly because of defensive lineman Khyri Thornton's hamstring injury. If he lands on injured reserve, not sure Gray's worth keeping as a sixth lineman.
There are a couple ways to look at which way McCarthy and Thompson might go if they keep only one backup. They could cut Tolzien, hope he clears waivers and sign him to their practice squad. Not sure he'd make it through, though. They also could cut Flynn, who is three years older, thinking no one will sign him (he's a vested veteran so he doesn't go on waivers). Then if needed later in the season, he'll probably be available. The guess here is that's the choice.
Also, tough to see anyone trading a draft pick for either.
DEFENSIVE LINE (5)
Thornton did next to nothing in camp but as a third-round pick would have been tough to cut. The smart money says he ends up on IR. Five spots are a given: Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Letroy Guion and undrafted rookie Mike Pennel. The question is whether Gray (6-2 and 313) makes it. Thompson puts a premium on big men, so there's a chance. But he probably hasn't done enough to warrant a spot on the 53. Practice squad is more likely.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (6)
The undrafted rookie Elliott had another sack — his fifth of the preseason— and this one was against Kansas City's starting right tackle, Donald Stephenson. No way the Packers can cut a guy who's shown outside pass rush potential. Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and Nick Perry take four more spots.
The guess here is second-year pro Andy Mulumba makes it, too. Probably couldn't have ruled out Nate Palmer, who was significantly improved from last year, but his knee injury Thursday night, though of unknown severity, probably ruins his chances.
TIGHT ENDS (5)
Brandon Bostick is out for several weeks or more because of a lower leg injury, so Andrew Quarless should be safe. Third-round pick Richard Rodgers is a lock, and Ryan Taylor a special-teams core player.
The question is whether Jake Stoneburner makes it as the No. 5, though undrafted rookie Justin Perillo hasn't been bad either. The guess here is Stoneburner makes it because of his receiving skills, and Perillo is on the practice squad.
INSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
Easy call here. Brad Jones, A.J. Hawk, Sam Barrington and Jamari Lattimore are in. Jake Doughty is out. So is fourth-round pick Carl Bradford, who moved to inside linebacker full time this week after playing outside the first four weeks of camp. He didn't show any pass rush outside, but maybe he makes the practice squad to see if he can move inside.
The question here is whether Rolle makes the 53. The five givens are Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Davon House, Casey Hayward and Jarrett Bush. Rolle got an especially long look Thursday night, and the guess here is he's shown enough cover skills in camp to make it too risky to put him on waivers. Sixth-round pick Demetri Goodson missed the game because of a concussion and is a possibility for IR or the practice squad.
Five is a heavy number for the position but warranted. Sean Richardson is the clear No. 4, and Chris Banjo is a key special-teams player, even without injuries to someone ahead of him. Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are givens.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
There are six locks (David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, JC Tretter, T.J. Lang, Bryan Bulaga and fifth-round pick Corey Linsley. Guard Lane Taylor and tackle Derek Sherrod are really good bets, too. No one else warrants keeping, but don't be surprised if the Packers grab a lineman cut by another team.
WIDE RECEIVER (5)
Janis has two long touchdown catches and a 62-yard kickoff return, so he's shown he can help. The others are Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and second-round pick Davante Adams. You can't rule out Myles White or Kevin Dorsey, but they were inconsistent enough to suggest they won't make it. One or both could end up on the practice squad.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Easy call. Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris and John Kuhn are in. LaDarius Perkins and Michael Hill are out. One could land on the practice squad.
Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay and Brett Goode are in as kicker, punter and long snapper.