By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on August 25, 2014
With only one preseason game left, the Green Bay Packers must get ready to make the necessary cuts to get the roster down to 53 players. Even though several players have made outstanding plays over the past few weeks, the harsh reality is a majority of them who have shown potential will not make the final roster. Here’s a look at a prediction of Green Bay’s final 53-man roster for the 2014 NFL season.
One of the toughest decisions the Packers will have to face is whether to keep two or three quarterbacks. I believe Green Bay will keep two because it gives them an opportunity to add depth at another needed position. Scott Tolzien has shown more than Matt Flynn has in the preseason, which is why he will be Aaron Rodgers’ sole backup. Tolzien is young, a hard worker and determined to be the best he can be.
One of the reasons the Packers will be so dangerous this season is because of the depth at running back. Eddie Lacy is in a class on his own, but James Starks, DuJuan Harris and fullback John Kuhn all bring something different to the table. In fact, Green Bay will honestly not skip a beat when Lacy is taking a breather. Lacy, Starks and Harris have different styles, which will give the Packers a consistent edge.
It might be a long shot that the Packers keep six wide receivers, but I think it can happen. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb will lead the charge. Meanwhile, Jarrett Boykin should have a breakout year with the pressure on the top two receivers. Davante Adams is someone to keep an eye on as he could have a huge season due to being an unknown player. Jeff Janis’ potential is the main reason Green Bay should keep six receivers.
Andrew Quarless is the likely starter at tight end, but rookie Richard Rodgers has done enough in the preseason to have a legitimate shot at starting. Brandon Bostick is the best overall tight end due to his ability to be a great blocker. Ryan Taylor will be one of the last people to make the team. His presence on special teams is too good to pass up. The tight end position has tremendous depth, which will create great opportunities in 2014.
Center JC Tretter will mess at least five weeks with a knee injury. The good news is rookie Corey Linsley has dominated in camp. Regardless, the center position could turn into a problem area on offense simply due to the overwhelming positon Linsley will be put in. The starting offensive line will be David Bakhtiari (LT), Josh Sitton (LG), Linsley (C), T.J. Lang (RG) and Bryan Bulaga (RT).
The Packers have decided to go smaller on the defensive line with the hope that it will allow them to create more problems in the backfield and get after the quarterback. The biggest blow to this unit is the loss of B.J. Raji for the season. Thankfully, Josh Boyd is more than willing to succeed with his new opportunity. The reality is Raji’s injury could be a blessing in disguise as Boyd has a tremendous amount of talent.
In general, the linebacker unit has incredible depth. Every single one of the linebackers, whether it’s inside or outside, has the ability to bring something worthwhile to the table. That will allow head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers to utilize several different packages to slow down opposing offenses. A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones must step their game up, as it is their duty to slow down the running game.
During the last two preseason games, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers gave fans a preview of what is expected to come this season. The duo has the potential to be the best in the business when it comes to sacks in 2014. When healthy, there is no one more dangerous than Matthews is. Now that he has Peppers to take some of the pressure off, he should be more lethal than ever before. The versatile Mike Neal is someone else to keep an eye on.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Defensive back is the position that will see the benefit of carrying only two quarterbacks. Chris Banjo is currently on the bubble, and the reason he makes the team is because of his stellar play on special teams. Micah Hyde will open the season as the starting free safety, but Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will still see plenty of action during the course of the season. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams must be stellar to give Green Bay a chance.
The special teams unit remains the same as it has for years. Mason Crosby bounced back brilliantly after a career-low 2012 season. Meanwhile, there are no complaints about Brett Goode’s job as the long snapper. The person that I would like to see improve is punter Tim Masthay. Although he comes up with clutch punts and is having a great preseason, he ranked in the bottom third in statistics across the board in the NFL last season.
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