GREEN BAY — With his 53-man roster more or less solidified, general manager Ted Thompson began assembling his practice squad Sunday. And in typical Thompson fashion, he looked inward to fill the majority of slots, focusing his attention on players who were with the Green Bay Packers during training camp.
The practice squad philosophy embodies a comment Thompson made last week prior to the final exhibition game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The question posed was about a team's propensity to make trades — Thompson typically doesn't — but his answer is applicable in a broader sense to the way he compiles the entire team.
"I like to gather the chicks all into the barn and keep them all to myself," Thompson said. "I’d rather work with the guys that we have and try to make them better than trading one of them to some other team to get somebody else’s guy, if you know what I mean."
So Thompson assessed the "chicks" he released during Saturday's roster cuts and decided to bring some of them back. According to reports by PackersNews.com and other outlets, Thompson filled at least nine of the 10 available spots. Here is a list of players known to have signed with the Packers:
WR Geronimo Allison — A player many people thought had a chance to make the roster, Allison turned down multiple offers from other teams to re-sign with the Packers, according to a source. At 6-3½ and 198 pounds, Allison offered the Packers a different body type and skill set than any other receiver they had. His consistency was impressive from the first day of training camp to the last, and that statement was not applicable to several wideouts. The Packers took a slight gamble in releasing Allison, who may have been intriguing as a potential waiver claim for other teams, but he made it through and will continue working under receivers coach Luke Getsy.
ILB Carl Bradford — Despite marked improvements as an inside linebacker, Bradford failed to make the 53-man roster for a second consecutive season. The Packers kept only three players at his position — Jake Ryan, Joe Thomas and rookie Blake Martinez — with Bradford narrowly behind in the competition. Still, the thin numbers at inside linebacker bode well for Bradford, who might be the hardest hitter of the bunch. He is much closer to actual playing time than other members of the practice squad whose positions are more crowded. (See: Allison, Geronimo; Waters, Herb; Cajuste, Devon)
OLB Reggie Gilbert — Gilbert joined the Packers in May as an undrafted free agent from Arizona and began turning heads in training camp. His quiet disposition belied a ferocious on-field demeanor, and an array of pass rush moves yielded moderate success during the exhibition season. By the end of camp, it could be argued that Gilbert outplayed Jayrone Elliott, third-round pick Kyler Fackrell and Lerentee McCray, who has since been traded.
NT Brian Price — Like Bradford, Price was likely the next choice at his position. Thompson kept five defensive linemen on his 53-man roster — a sixth, Mike Pennel, will return after a four-game suspension — and it was first-year player Christian Ringo who secured the final spot. Price intrigued the coaches with his tenacity and relentless motor, two traits that were on display all the way through the exhibition finale against Kansas City, when he chased quarterbacks on multiple occasions. Price is a developmental player for defensive line coach Mike Trgovac.
OG Lucas Patrick — That Patrick earned a spot on the practice squad is particularly impressive given what he overcame during training camp. Patrick, who played at Duke, suffered a significant injury to his right hand early in August and wore a club for the remainder of camp. He never missed a day of practice and, somehow, played fairly well even without the ability to grab, rip and push opponents with any sort of legitimate dexterity. With Josh Sitton gone, Patrick is a player whose development may be important for the long-term future of the offensive line.
WR Herb Waters — Waters was viewed by scouts as one of the better undrafted free agents signed by the Packers in May, and his $5,000 signing bonus reflected their opinions. Though he chose the Packers over a number of different suitors, Waters was fairly ordinary during training camp. He's undersized at 5-11 1/2 and 192 pounds, but his speed is decent: Waters ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. Predictably, Waters' reps were limited in a receiving corps that yielded eight legitimate contenders for the roster. He did not catch a pass in any of the four exhibition games.
In addition to the six signings reported and confirmed by PackersNews.com, several additional players have been mentioned by other media outlets: Safety Jermaine Whitehead (Houston Chronicle/National Football Post); guard Blake Muir (ESPN); inside linebacker Beniquez Brown (ESPN); and wide receiver Devon Cajuste (San Francisco Chronicle).
Cajuste and Muir would be new to the organization, while Whitehead and Brown spent training camp with the Packers. Cajuste, who played at Stanford, and Muir, who played at Baylor, were both recently cut by the 49ers.
Ryan Wood and Tom Silverstein of PackersNews.com contributed to this report.