Monday, September 3, 2012

Analyzing the Packers' 53 Man Roster

The Packers trimmed down their roster to the mandated number of 53 players on August 31st.  Among those who were cut were notables Diondre Borel, Tori Gurley and Daniel Muir.  Gurley has already been signed to the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad for this upcoming season.  Borel was signed to the Packers’ practice squad, where he spent all of last season as well.

Gurley was offered a spot on the Vikes’ active roster at the end of last season but turned it down to remain on Green Bay’s practice squad.  Entering camp as a hopeful to stick as a 6th wide receiver, Gurley was hampered by some injuries early in camp and never separated himself from the others to emerge as the clear favorite.  He did have several catches in the last preseason game vs the Chiefs but that was obviously not enough to help him earn a roster spot.

Borel, according to many who watched the teams practices, had jumped ahead as the top WR candidate to stay on until his play inexplicably dropped off in weeks 2 and 3 of the preseason.  He dropped passes and was very hesitant in the return game.  Borel was given plenty of chances to succeed, but was not able to capitalize on those opportunities.  The final straw that likely sealed Borel’s fate was the outstanding performance of Jarrett Boykin over the last 2 weeks.  Boykin ran better routes, stayed healthy and held onto the ball.  All sound simple but this proved a tough task for the WR hopeful’s as camp went on.

Daniel Muir was probably the most surprising of the cut down’s, in my opinion.  Muir was effective in his reps with the 2’s and 3’s and seemed likely to stick after final cuts were announced.  He was likely let go due to the blossoming talent on the D line in that of draft picks Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels.  Also in the fold are CJ Wilson, who reportedly has won the starting RDE spot in the 3-4 base, and Mike Neal who will miss the first 4 games as he serves a suspension for a positive test for PED’s.  They will join incumbent starters Ryan Pickett and BJ Raji.  The depth on the D line is a good sign for a team that lacked depth in this key area last year.  Health will be a big key and they will need much better production from Wilson on the right side than they saw last year with Jarius Wynn.

Also signed to this year’s practice squad were OT Andrew Datko,QB BJ Coleman, TE Brandon Bostick, DE Lawrence Guy, RB Marc Tyler, and OL Greg Van Roten.  The team can add a few more to this list and may be looking at some options over the next few days to round out the list.

As for the rest of the roster, two names that stood out of those who made the team were defensive backs Brandian Ross and Sean Richardson.  They join a very talented crop of DB’s that feature Charles Woodson at S and Tramon Williams at CB.  With Davon House still nursing his injured shoulder and with his timeline for return unknown, Ross provides some added depth at Corner.  He will likely see most of his action on special teams.  Safety Richardson had a stellar game 4 vs the Chiefs and did enough to beat out Anthony Levine, who spent all of last season on the Pack’s practice squad.  This infusion of youth is a continuation of the Packers’ strategy over the past several years of keeping a nucleus of able veterans while filling in the holes with young and hungry players.

Those young and hungry players join a very talented nucleus with a goal to improve on 2011’s performance and get back to the Super Bowl.  That quest begins one week from this Sunday as the Packers host the San Francisco 49ers.  It will be an immediate test of how ready the Pack are to push for elite status in the NFC.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

 - Jason Perone (@WSB_Jason)

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