Packers: Who will borrow Aaron Jones’ roster spot?

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 22: Aaron Jones
GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 22: Aaron Jones /

Due to Aaron Jones’ suspension, the Green Bay Packers will have an open roster spot for the opening two games of the season.

The suspension of Aaron Jones (two games for violating the substance abuse policy) is a big blow to the Green Bay Packers’ offense. He’s their most dynamic running back, capable of regularly ripping off big gains through the air and on the ground.

But this suspension is also an opportunity, both for the Packers and for their 54th-best player. The team can keep this 54th man on the roster for two weeks before releasing him in favor of Jones.

Additionally, if this player meets the eligibility requirements, the Packers will be more likely to be able to stash them on the practice squad when releasing them after Week 2, as teams will have established their 53-man rosters at that point.

So who will be lucky number 53 in lieu of Jones? There’s a bevy of candidates.

It’s more likely to be an offensive player than a defensive one, simply in the interest of balance. On defense, though, Brian Gutekunst may see fit to keep an extra outside linebacker (Kyler Fackrell, Chris Odom, or Kendall Donnerson being top candidates) or cornerback (Josh Hawkins, Davon House, or Quinten Rollins, to name a few).

The simplest projection, of course, would be a running back. Ty Montgomery has had several injuries in his short career. Mike McCarthy’s offense necessitates having at least two capable ball carriers.

The top candidates, then, are second-year backs Devante Mays and Joel Bouagnon.

Mays had a dreadful rookie season, fumbling twice in just four carries. He’s a big back at 230 pounds, and his year of experience in the offense may give him a slight edge over Bouagnon.

Bouagnon is in his second year out of Northern Illinois, and his first with the Packers. He’s a tall back built similarly to former Packer James Starks, at six-feet, two inches and 227 pounds. He has a bulldozing running style and plenty of power, but ran his 40-yard dash in over 4.6 seconds.

The final backfield option would be to keep two fullbacks instead of the usual one. Joe Kerridge is the Packers’ current second fullback, a third-year player who’s seen minimal action on offense through 12 games played in his first two seasons.

Wide receiver is a position where the Packers always seem to have to make tough cuts. That could make it an ideal position to stash an extra player for two weeks, which would be welcome news for Trevor Davis, Michael Clark, DeAngelo Yancey, and the three 2018 draftees.

The best option, though, may be to retain an extra offensive tackle.

Bryan Bulaga tore his ACL on November 6, meaning that he’ll have about 10 months of recovery time total before the season opener. He may be able to start Week 1, but it’s far from guaranteed. Even if he does, he’ll have missed plenty or all of the offseason.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Gutekunst may hesitate, though, to start Bulaga on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which means missing a minimum of the first six games. The team’s depth at right tackle is fairly bleak. Kyle Murphy, Jason Spriggs and Byron Bell would be the top candidates to start in Bulaga’s absence.

Jones’ suspension, though, could essentially give Bulaga a two-week PUP designation. Bulaga would need to participate in practice to some extent at some point during training camp to come off PUP (if he starts training camp on it). Then, he could make the active roster.

But if he still isn’t quite ready to start, the Packers could keep an extra offensive tackle in place of Jones. Adam Pankey, Spriggs, and Bell would likely battle it out for the final one or two offensive tackle spots.

This extra tackle would give the Packers’ both insurance in case of injury and another option to turn to should the starter struggle. Upon Jones’ return, that player could be cut. Bulaga would ideally be close to returning at that point, making the extra tackle superfluous.

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Overall, there’s nearly endless options for players to “borrow” Aaron Jones’ roster spot. And, it’s possible that the Packers won’t know who to cut after the first two weeks anyway.

The most likely outcome is still that it’s a running back. But Bulaga’s injury makes backup tackle a very interesting position to watch in regards to Jones’ suspension.