The first NFL roster cut-down of the season is fast approaching. On Monday, August 27th, the Green Bay Packers will need to have trimmed their roster down to 75 players from their current total of 90.
Even though these are essentially the worst players on the team, the decision of who to cut is a tough one. Not only do Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson need to consider the skill of each player, but they also have to take into account the remaining depth they’ll have to work with for the remainder of the preseason. This being the case, the first roster cut-down can be a good time to declare some of the Injured Reserve (IR) or Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) players for the start of the season.
As a reminder, only players who did not practice at all during training camp are eligible for the PUP. They remain on the list for the first six weeks of regular season, after which they have a three-week window to return to practice. From the point at which the player returns to practice, the team has an additional three weeks to decide whether to elevate them to the 53-man roster, place them on injured reserve, or release them.
Here is a group of eight players who could possibly end up on one of these lists during the upcoming roster cut-down:
Physically Unable to Perform (PUP)
- TE Andrew Quarless – On December 4, 2011, Quarless suffered a severe knee injury in kickoff coverage against the New York Giants. On January 9th, he had reconstructive knee surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). There was always a chance he could miss the entire 2012 season, and with the depth at tight end, there’s no reason to rush Quarless back from recovery. Chances are good he’ll remain on the PUP list to start the season.
- T Derek Sherrod – On December 18, 2011, while filling in for RT Bryan Bulaga against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sherrod broke his left leg when LB Tamba Hali rolled onto it. Though his progress as has been good, there’s not really a timetable on his return. The situation at back-up left tackle could really help to determine his fate. If the Packers feel comfortable with Reggie Wells, Herb Taylor, and/or Andrew Datko, then the PUP list could be the way they go for Sherrod. Otherwise, they might keep him active in hopes of an earlier return.
- OLB Frank Zombo – Entering training camp with a strained hamstring , Zombo failed his physical and has been on the PUP since. The laundry list of injuries during his time with the Packers plus the emergence of rookie outside linebackers Nick Perry and Dezman Moses make the roster a long shot for Zombo. The question is whether the Packers think Zombo can contribute more than players like Jones, So’oto, and Walden. If not, they might just release him and forgo the PUP altogether.
- DL Johnny Jones – Like Zombo, Jones entered training camp on the PUP list with a knee injury. He was a practice squad player during last season after the Packers picked him up in September. If the Packers still like his potential, there’s a good chance they could place him on the PUP. If they don’t see him as a contributor this season, though, then they could stash him on IR to give him a shot next year.
Injured Reserve (IR)
- RB Du’ane Bennett – Though he seemed to be performing well during the first couple weeks of training camp, Bennett suffered a knee injury that his sidelined him since (which also helped to contribute to the depth problems plaguing the running back position so far). It should also be noted that Bennett suffered a season-ending knee injury during his redshirt year with the Minnesota Gophers. With the addition of Cedric Benson, there’s probably not room for Bennett on the 53-man roster, so his best bet with the Packers is to be placed on IR for a shot next year.
- WR Shaky Smithson – He knows the injured reserve all too well, as he was on it for the entirety of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury. Now, after injuring his ankle against the Chargers in the first preseason game, Smithson has lost a lot of competition time. If the Packers still see promise in him, the IR could be his home for another consecutive year; if not, he will probably be released.
- G Ray Dominguez – After suffering a high ankle sprain on August 2nd during training camp, Dominguez missed the first two preseason games and will likely miss the last two, as well. He was elevated to the 53-man roster last year after five weeks on the practice squad. The Packers obviously like him, so if the injury is serious enough, he’ll be placed on IR. Otherwise, he should still be eligible for the practice squad this year.
- LB Desmond Bishop – I know what you all are thinking: there’s no way Bishop gets placed on injured reserve. Well, truth be told, it is a very real possibility. If the NFLPA doesn’t approve the new in-season injured reserve rule, then Bishop will probably spend the season in rehab. Besides, we still have no word on how his hamstring surgery went, meaning the Packers might have already decided he won’t be able to make it back this year.