Packers players and coach Mike McCarthy talk about the difficult time this week that comes along with roster cuts. (Sept. 1, 2015)
Matt Blanchard's days in a Green Bay Packers jersey appeared to be numbered ever since the team drafted a quarterback in May.
A couple weeks after Blanchard signed this offseason, Packers general manager Ted Thompson traded a fifth- and seventh-round pick to move up in the fifth round and select Brett Hundley. It created a log jam on the Packers' quarterback depth chart. Naturally, Blanchard became the odd man out.
Blanchard was one of 11 players the Packers cut in the past two days, trimming their roster to the league-mandated, 75-player maximum. The team also officially placed receiver Jordy Nelson (ACL) on injured reserve.
Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said he was impressed with what he saw from the former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater quarterback during the Packers' offseason program and training camp.
"He had limited opportunities," Van Pelt said, "but he made the most of them. I enjoyed having him in the room. He's a very bright guy. I think he has a future in the NFL as a player."
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Blanchard went 45-0 as a starter at Wisconsin-Whitewater. He also threw for 5,009 yards and 44 touchdowns.
The NFL is a major transition for Blanchard, who has also spent time with the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers. Still, Van Pelt said, he was pleased with how Blanchard learned the Packers' offense. He was especially impressed with how Blanchard picked up the proper footwork the Packers expect from their quarterbacks, which he said is the most difficult adjustment.
Ultimately, it wasn't enough for Blanchard to overtake Hundley, who is in line to be the Packers' third quarterback behind league MVP Aaron Rodgers and veteran backup Scott Tolzien.
"This is the strongest group of four I've ever been around," Van Pelt said.
Blanchard's future is out of his position coach's hands. Still, Van Pelt said, he'd love for the Packers to sign Blanchard to the practice squad.
That's an unlikely decision for Thompson to make. There are only 10 practice squad spots available, and it's hard enough to find enough reps for a team's third-string quarterback. That doesn't mean Van Pelt is willing to give up on Blanchard's future.
"I'd be willing to call any of my friends in coaching who need and a quarterback and highly recommend him," Van Pelt said, "because I think he has what it takes. He's got the size. He has the arm strength, the speed – the actual play speed. Just needs a break. He needs to get a chance.
"It's a tough situation here when we drafted Brett, obviously. I've been in those situations myself. You go and you do your best, and hopefully you can put some good stuff on tape and another opportunity arises for him. I'm sure he'll get another chance."
Here's a full list of players the Packers released in their first major wave of cuts.
QB Matt Blanchard
ILB Tavarus Dantzler
ILB Josh Francis
OLB Adrian Hubbard
OT Fabbians Ebbele
WR Javess Blue
WR James Butler
WR Jimmie Hunt
DT Lavon Hooks
CB Kyle Sebetic
TE Harold Spears