Sunday, September 04, 2011

Packers set 2011 roster and practice squad

Saturday was the day the Green Bay Packers decided on the 53 players that will take them back to the Super Bowl. In the process, 27 players were either cut, traded or put on injured reserve. Today, Sunday, was the day some of those players got a reprieve by clearing waivers and getting signed to the Packers' practice squad.

In case you haven't already seen the roster elsewhere, here is the 53-man roster that GM Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy are going to war with this season. It has a familiar look in many respects to the team that brought the Lombardi Trophy back to Lambeau Field following last season's campaign.
  • QBs: Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn
  • RBs: Ryan Grant, James Starks, John Kuhn and Alex Green
  • TEs: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor and D.J. Williams
  • WRs: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb
  • OL: Chad Clifton, T.J. Lang, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod and Evan Dietrich Smith.
  • DL: B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, Howard Green, Jarius Wynn and C.J. Wilson
  • LBs: Clay Matthews, Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk, Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, Vic So'oto, Jamari Lattimore, Brad Jones, Robert Francois and D.J. Smith.
  • DBs: Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Nick Collins, Morgan Burnett, Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush, Pat Lee, Charlie Peprah, M.D. Jennings and Davon House.
  • K: Mason Crosby
  • P: Tim Masthay
  • Long Snapper: Brett Goode
Undrafted rookie wide receiver/returner Shaky Smithson and rookie defensive end Lawrence Guy were placed on injured reserve.

Quick takes on this roster: long on linebackers, defensive backs and tight ends, a bit light on offensive linemen and running backs.

Practice Squad
Going into the season with only eight offensive linemen doesn't allows too much room for error...or injury. Perhaps that's why the Packers re-signed a couple of the offensive linemen they cut to the practice squad. And speaking of same, here are the practice squad signings of today:
  • QB: Graham Harrell
  • WRs: Chastin West, Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel
  • RB: Brandon Saine
  • OGs: Ray Dominguez and Sampson Genus
  • CB: Brandian Ross
Still, having two unproven rookies as your only O-line backups for depth leads many in the sports world to believe that Ted Thompson will pick up a veteran, perhaps before the season opener against the Saints on Thursday.

I and many others are likely of the view that having Harrell, West, Gurley and Saine on the practice squad gives the coaches a bit of security and flexibility they were hoping to have available as the season commences. Both Harrell and West have been on the practice squad, and West certainly demonstrated this preseason the ability to be a good number five receiver should one of the other receivers go down. The Packers were also intrigued by Gurley's potential and probably gave a sigh of relief that he wasn't claimed on waivers. To a certain degree, they may have felt the same about rookie OG Ray Dominguez who, while raw, has the attitude and talent potential to play on the O-line, given a little seasoning, of course.

Turning coal into diamonds
Another observation I'd like to pass along, and which is attributable to Bill Huber's fine article at Packer Report, is that more than half of the Packers current roster is comprised of players found in the sixth round, seventh round or who weren't drafted at all. That's right: 27 of the 53 players on this season's roster were found by GM Ted Thompson and his scouts near the bottom of the draft, or even as undrafted free agents. Can you say "Value!"?

Huber has a few other choice tidbits for you, so I encourage you to hop over there and check out his article.

For now, let's just close by saying that the Packers escaped the preseason without any significant injuries. They have key players returning to the practice field today who were on injured reserve last season. A talented team with an explosive offense and disruptive defense is set to go after another Lombardi Trophy.

As coach McCarthy says: the Packers aren't defending anything; they are hunting for another Super Bowl win. You bet. It's great to be a Packer fan!

Go Pack Go!!!