Sep 3, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Rajion Neal (34) rushes with the football as New Orleans Saints safety Pierre Warren (42) tries to make the tackle during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
just eight days remaining until the Green Bay Packers kick off in their regular season debut, I (as self-proclaimed Citizen GM) will continue the countdown with what is relevant to today.
The deadline for all NFL teams to have made the necessary cuts for their 53-man roster was today, at 4pm. Going from 75- players to 53 in the course of a few days, is difficult. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have conceded that the roster cuts are the most challenging aspect of their respective jobs, and that it is virtually a lose-lose situation. There is not enough time during training camp and preseason to get a good, long look at the guys who are trying to make an NFL roster. Often, coaches will have to make snap judgments on a player based on a handful of actual game reps.
It’s a heartbreaking situation for those guys who have worked so hard and come so far.
The Packers have made their designations for injured reserve and have a roster that is currently set at the league standard, 53-players. They had to cut loose 22 young men today, who are unsure if they will ever get another chance to make a roster. Let’s take a look at the 8 most notable cuts from today’s deadline …
RB Raijon NealThis is probably the Packers’ most surprising cut of the 2015 preseason.I truly felt, as most others did, that Neal was a virtual lock to make the active roster. After a tumultuous 2014 preseason saga and a strong push in the first few preseason games of 2015, it looked like he had done enough to warrant the front office giving him the 3rd running back spot. Alonzo Harris and John Crockett were strong candidates, as well. However, the feeling was that Neal would be compensated for his diligence, talent and growth.
Though the Packers could technically still bring Neal back to the practice squad, if he clears waivers, it is uncertain whether they feel they need a 4th running back for depth. However, James Starks and Eddie Lacy both have a history of injuries. In the final playoff loss in 2014, both Lacy and Starks left the game with injuries, leaving John Kuhn as the only available RB on the roster. It may be good insurance to keep a player like Neal who is an aggressive runner and has sure hands on passing plays.
TE Justin PerilloIt wasn’t much of a surprise that the Packers decided to only keep 3 TE’s on the roster. Richard Rodgers is the closest thing to Jermichael Finley that the Packers have seen since Finley’s untimely neck injury – and they are excited about his development. He has even jumped Andrew Quarless on the depth chart, due in part to Quarless’ impending suspension.Perillo spent time on the practice squad last year and has the opportunity to be brought back this year. He just hasn’t made enough moves to push the new 6th round pick, Kennard Backman from the active roster. The Packers spent a draft pick on Backman and they are more apt to give him an opportunity to develop than to move him for a perpetual practice squad player.
LB Joe ThomasWith so much uncertainty at the inside linebacker position, the Packers could have held on to Joe Thomas, if he showed enough development from year one to year two. There were bursts where some speculated that Thomas could compete for a backup ILB position behind veterans Clay Matthews and Sam Barrington, pushing the young rookie Jake Ryan for snap count.In the long run, the Packers have a plan for the inside linebacker position and it doesn’t include Clay Matthews moving back to the outside, full time. They liked seeing the intensity with which the Packers defense played the run when Matthews was clogging up the middle – and anyone wishing to make a splash at ILB will have to be BETTER than Matthews in order to take that spot, fully. I just don’t see that happening … and from that perspective, it was a no-brainer that Thomas would have to be waived. Another good candidate for the practice squad, Thomas could make a comeback. However, the rookie Ryan has as good a chance as any of making a move to the starters list.
OL Garth GerhartEver since Corey Linsley came in and saved the day before week one’s tilt with Seattle last year, the Packers had no real plans of relinquishing the position to anyone else. While Gerhart is a solid option at center, he has spent time at the guard position and was proving to be versatile. However, J.C Tretter and Don Barclay are still in the wings for offensive line depth and there really isn’t much more the Packers can do with Gerhart if they are trying to preserve roster spots.Gerhart may get a look from some other NFL teams – offensive line depth is not something that teams take lightly.
LB Carl BradfordWhat a disappointment that 3rd and 4th round picks Carl Bradford and Khyri Thornton have been from the 2014 draft class. It isn’t truly their fault, however. Bradford, for instance, never stood a chance of making the team as an edge pass rusher. With the development of Julius Peppers under Dom Capers “hybrid” role, the Packers are happy with their outside linebackers. Bradford was thought to be too small to compete, but the Packers took a chance, arguably reaching for him in the 4th round.When a need was shown at ILB, the Packers decided to give Bradford a look there. He lacked the speed and versatility to compete at that position, either. It was a shoot and a miss for the Ted Thompson draft record but – you win some and you lose some. You just try and win more than you lose.
WR Jared AbbredarisI don’t think anyone in Green Bay or Wisconsin wanted to see Abbredaris cut. He was an instant crowd favorite, a real home-town boy. He had a string of bad luck with injuries that stunted his growth with the Packers. An early ACL injury sidelined him last year and a concussion held him out of basically all training camp activities.The Packers gave him a good, hard look in the last preseason game against the Saints – but a promising punt return was not enough to give him a roster spot. Even with Jordy Nelson on IR for the year, Cobb, Adams, Montgomery, White and Janis are all the WR depth the Packers seem to need.
I highly expect Abbredaris to make the practice squad – but I also expected Raijon Neal to make the roster.
DL Christian RingoBecause of the depth at defensive line, the Packers couldn’t keep their 6th round 2015 pick, Ringo. He may have shown flashes here and there in his opportunities but – they were few and far between. The Packers were able to keep 55 total players because Guion and Jones both are serving suspensions. When they are back, two more players are going to get cut. Ringo just couldn’t hold on, even though the Packers used a 2015 draft pick on him.
WR Larry PinkardPinkard showed real potential in the last preseason game against the Saints. With WR troubles already, the Packers could have given him a chance, but – he suffered the same AC joint injury that Cobb did against the Eagles, which hurt his stock. Most think he could be brought back on the practice squad, as well. I can’t see Abbredaris and Pinkard both returning to the Packers but with the luck they have been having with their wideouts, nothing is impossible.
As the days count down and the preseason officially wraps up – I am more and more looking forward to seeing what this team has in store for the NFL in 2015.