Now that we know about the Packers Roster Cuts and the current composition of the 2011 Packers 53-man Roster, the next order of business is putting together the practice squad. Below are my thoughts on how this might shake out.
Author’s Note: The practice squad has since been formed. You can find the actual Packers Practice Squad here.
This isn’t really a prediction, because there is no way to account for players possibly being claimed outright or signed by other teams after they clear waivers. We are simply taking a look at the positions where the Packers would like to have an emergency player “on-call” and some players the Packers might want to keep.
Quarterback (1): The Packers are crossing their fingers that Graham Harrell’s uneven performances in preseason games will make other teams look elsewhere for practice squad quarterbacks who are a bit more NFL-ready at this time. If Harrell is claimed or signs with another team, the Packers will surely bring in another quarterback for the practice squad.
Running Back (2): The Packers have taken a bit of a risk here by only carrying four running backs in total on the 53-man roster. It’s the first time they’ve done that and also the first time they’ve carried only 1 fullback. We know that Kuhn can fill-in at RB if needed, so that’s not an big need, but I believe the Packers will keep running back Brandon Saine iof he clears waivers. More importantly, the Packers MUST place another fullback on the practice squad. I imagine it shouldn’t be a problem keeping Jon Hoese, but without having seen much of him myself, I can’t say if the Packers think he’s worthy. if not, they will go elsewhere to add a fullback to the practice squad.
Wide Receiver (1 or 2): I picked the Packers to keep six wide receivers, not because I really thought they would, but rather because I just did not want to lose Tori Gurley. The Packers move to keep five makes good sense, especially knowing that they should be able to retain at least one, if not 2 of the three wide receivers they cut today (Gurley/West/Taylor) for the practice squad. I sure wish Gurley had developed an “injury” to be put on IR for the year.
Tight End (0): I think the Packers have this position covered just fine, thank you…
Offensive Line (1): The Packer only kept eight offensive linemen. This frankly shocks me and I’d have a hard time believing they will stay like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up bringing in another guard/center type for the 53-man roster and let a linebacker go. In any case, having kept eight linemen and four of them being natural tackles, a guard or guard/center will find their way on to the practice squad. Among released Packers players, Ray Dominguez or Nick McDonald are the only options. I could see the Packers wanting to gve McDonald one more chance, especially since he occupied a 53-man roster spot all of last year. Dominguez is a real possibility, as well. Adapted quickly to the move to guard and was coming on strong as the preseason ended.
Defensive Line (1): Thanks to Mike Neal’s health issues and the ability of BJ Raji and Ryan Pickett to play the nose, another DE on the practice squad is a must. That would have been Lawrence Guy, but since he has been placed on injured reserve, that leaves the Packers to make a practice squad offer to another team’s castoff.
Linebackers (1): Although the Packers kept 10 linebackers, I don’t expect it to stay like that once Frank Zombo is healthy again. In addition, they only kept four inside linebackers. So, I expect the Packers to stash an inside linebacker on the practice squad, unless they feel one of those OLBs can also move inside. This could be their own Cardia Jackson, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers looked elsewhere to cover this position.
Defensive Backs (1): The Packers kept 10 defensive backs on their roster. Those included four true safeties, plus Jarret Bush can fill-in when needed and Charles Woodson has already been used in a quasi-safety role. No doubt the Packers love defensive backs, but how many can they use? I expect Green Bay to try to keep Josh Gordy or Brandian Ross on their practice squad, as both have shown signs of being good football players.
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.