Quarterback (2): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn
Cut: Graham Harrell
Breakdown: So Aaron Rodgers survives another year of Saturday cuts. But seriously, Rodgers and Flynn were locked into their positions and the only real question was whether the Packers A) believed Harrell warranted a spot on the roster or B) would pass through waivers and be added to the practice squad. General Manager Ted Thompson went with the latter, cutting Harrell and hoping no team takes a flyer on him. There’s a small chance a team will grab Harrell and put him on their 53-man roster, but he didn’t show much in the preseason and is more of a system quarterback (the Packers’ system) than anything at this point. With Flynn set to test the free agent market in 2012, Harrell could be the top candidate to backup Rodgers next year.
Running back (3): Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green
Cut: Dimitri Nance, Brandon Saine
Breakdown: Nance and Saine were two of the last cuts to be publicly announced, so there was optimism that one of the two would stick. However, the Packers instead decided to keep 10 linebackers. The decision to cut Saine and Nance should also dispel any rumors that the Packers will try to trade Ryan Grant, who is in the final year of his contract. Starks and Green provide excellent depth and Kuhn is able to run the ball as well, so there was really no need to keep either of the two cut.
Fullback (1): John Kuhn
Cut: Quinn Johnson (trade), Jon Hoese
Breakdown: The question of whether or not there was a roster spot for Johnson was answered when it was revealed the Packers were keeping five tight ends. However, it was announced that the Packers received an undisclosed draft pick for Johnson in a trade with Tennessee. The move coincides with Titans’ fullback Ahmad Hall being suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Since there really was no room for Johnson, it’s good to see him stick with another team and the Packers to get something back for him. Kuhn will enter 2011 as the Packers’ only fullback.
Wide Receiver (5): Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb
Cut: Diondre Borel, Chastin West, Tori Gurley, Kerry Taylor, Shaky Smithson (I.R.)
Breakdown: No cuts were easy on the ultra-talented and deep Packers’ roster, but letting Gurley and West go rank as two of the toughest. It was known going into camp that the five who were ultimately kept were locks and, with the depth at tight end, it was going to be difficult for a sixth wide receiver to hang on to a roster spot. West’s production and Gurley’s size were obvious throughout training camp and the preseason, but the fact was that they were disposable with the depth already at the position. The Packers would love for West and Gurley to sneak through waivers, but it seems unlikely that both will and it’s more unlikely that both do.
Tight End (5): Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor
The date was October 5, 2009.
Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre’s first game against his former team, the Green Bay Packers, had been overshadowed by the five turnstiles in front of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers allowed eight sacks after left tackle Chad Clifton left with an ankle injury. Daryn Colledge and T.J. Lang unsuccessfully attempted to stop defensive end Jared Allen, who finished with 4.5 sacks, and three other defenders recorded sacks in the 30-23 loss.
Fast forward 22 months, to 2011 Packers training camp, and the Packers can actually say their offensive line is a strong suit on their already high-powered offense.
Mainstays left tackle Chad Clifton, center Scott Wells, and right guard Josh Sitton have proved their worth and are locked into starting roles entering the season. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who took over for Mark Tauscher midway through last season, seems to be locked into his position as well.
Four down, six to go.
The Packers agreed to terms on a contract with four of their rookies from the 2010 NFL Draft Thursday. Fifth round tight end D.J. Williams, sixth rounders offensive guard Caleb Schlauderaff and Ricky Elmore, and seventh round tight end Ryan Taylor all signed their first NFL contracts, which will be four-year deals, due to theNFL’s new collective bargaining agreement.
Full contract details were unavailable as of Thursday night.
Williams, whose contract involved a $198,000 signing bonus, was selected with the 141st overall pick and will join a deep and talented tight end group consisting of Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree. The recipient of the 2010 John Mackey Award, given to college football’s top tight end, Williams caught 54 passes for 627 yards and four touchdowns. Undersized at 6-feet, 2-inches, 245 pounds, Williams posted a 4.59 forty-yard dash at the NFL Combine and was labeled the top H-back in his draft class by ESPN’s Mel Kiper.
The newest addition to Aaron Rodgers’ arsenal was also rewarded with the 2010 Disney Spirit Award, given to college football’s most inspirational figure, after he, his mother and siblings moved from Texas to Arkansas to escape an abusive father. Williams fits the bill of “Packer people” and will be a threat down the middle of the field. He must add size and, as will be with all rookies, will need to work on his timing in the offense.