Friday, August 30, 2013

Building The 53 - 2013 Preseason Week 4 - Packers/Chiefs Review

The Green Bay Packers were shutout by the Arizona Cardinals to open the preseason.  The Packers followed that shutout up by playing well against the Rams.  Just as things were starting to look better, the Packers regressed against the Seahawks.  Last night the backups for the Packers struggled on the road against the backups for the Kansas City Chiefs to finish out the preseason.

Thankfully the 2013 preseason is finally in the rear-view mirror for the Packers because it was a very ugly four weeks that resulted in the Packers going 1-3.  I am not as worried that the Packers went 1-3 because let's not forget that the 2008 Detroit Lions went 4-0 in the preseason and 0-16 in the regular season.  I know quarterback Aaron Rodgers played sparingly in the preseason but I am still worried about the fact that the Packers didn't get into a rhythm on offense this preseason.

Here are my roster related thoughts on the Packers/Chiefs game:

Player that hurt his stock most - Brandon Smith (CB): Early in camp Smith showed promise but there were at least six players (Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Davon House, and Jarrett Bush) ahead of him on the cornerback depth chart so Smith was a long-shot to make the roster no matter how well he played in the preseason.  Part of the allure of Smith is that he is a big, physical cornerback but his performance against the Chiefs shows why he is such a confound player.  Although Smith had an interception, he also gave up three touchdowns so he looks like a practice squad player at best right now despite the fact that he fits the "big cornerback" mold.

Player that helped his stock most - Mason Crosby (K): Before the game news broke that Crosby restructured his contract to reduce his base salary from $2.4 million to $800,000.  Crosby can still earn $2.4 million this season, he just needs to be on the roster Week 10 ($400,000 bonus if on the roster Week 5 and $400,000 bonus if on the roster for Week 10) and make at least 85% of his kicks ($200,000 if he makes 75%, $200,000 more if he makes 80%, and $400,000 more if he makes 85%) for this season.  Anyone that reads this blog knows that I am no fan of Crosby but I like the structure of this contract because it rewards Crosby for kicking well and allows the Packers to cut him with less salary cap ramifications if Crosby kicks in 2013 like he did in 2012.

Position to watch - WR/TE: Thanks to the emergence of athletic tight ends, the lines between tight end and wide receiver in the NFL are continuing to blur so let's look at the primary pass catchers as a group.  The Packers have some really interesting decisions to make because there are four locks (Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson) followed by a bunch of question marks.  The Packers could keep as little as nine and as many as 11 pass catchers.  I personally see very little separation between the rest of the backup tight ends and wide receivers.  Besides the dour locks the conservative move would be to keep Jarrett Boykin, Matthew Mulligan, Andrew Quarless, Jeremy Ross, Ryan Taylor, and D.J. Williams but Brandon Bostick has Finley-esque athleticism and Tyrone Walker played great this preseason so it is hard to cut either of those guys either.  It will be interesting to see what Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson decides to do with the pass catchers.

Final Note: Thompson already trimmed the roster from 90 to 75 earlier this week.  Thompson needs to trim another 22 players by 5 pm CDT on Saturday, August 31st.  There were 21 guys that I said were long-shots to make The 53 heading into the preseason.  Given how well some of these guys played,  I actually think two deserve to make The 53: Chris Banjo (S) and Tyrone Walker (WR).

Last week I supported cutting the following 10 guys: Johnathan Amosa (FB), Myles White (WR), Lane Taylor (G), Garth Gerhard (C), Patrick Lewis (C), Donte Savage (OLB), James Nixon (CB), Loyce Means (CB), David Fulton (S), and Chaz Powell (S) but they survived the cut from 90 to 75.  None of those guys did anything to separate themselves against the Chiefs so I still support cutting those guys, which trims the roster from 75 to 65.

That means 13 more players need to be cut to get to The 53.  Here are the 13 other guys that I would cut if I was in charge: Charles Johnson (WR), Jarrett Boykin (WR), Jake Stoneburner (TE), Brandon Bostick (TE), Kevin Hughes (T), Andrew Datko (T), B.J. Coleman (QB), Nate Palmer (LB), Andy Mulumba (LB), Jamari Lattimore (LB), Sam Barrington (LB), Jordan Miller (DT), and Brandon Smith (CB).

Check back Saturday evening after Thompson picks The 53 for my thoughts.

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