Opining on the Opening 53 and "Packer Preview" NewsPosted:Sep 1st, 2013 1:27 am
While we always pay a lot of attention when our favorite team announces its 53-man roster at the cutdown deadline, the truth is the 53 is a living organism, constantly morphing and evolving. It quite possibly will look a little different before the teams heads to San Francisco for the opener.
But the initial 53 carried some surprises. Gone are Alex Green, DJ Williams and newcomer Vince Young. On the other side, youngsters Dezman Moses and Terrell Manning gave way to even younger replacements.
The headline is the backup quarterback situation, which is as unsettled as it could possibly be. For now, BJ Coleman is the understudy by default. Conventional wisdom is he needs another year on the practice squad and is not ready to lead a Super Bowl contender if Rodgers goes down. You have to think the team will bring in a veteran, if they see one they like.
Among the suddenly unemployed veteran QBs: Jimmy Clausen, Greg McElroy, Brady Quinn, Dennis Dixon, Seneca Wallace and Austin Davis. Notice I didn't mention the guy the Patriots cut loose. Any of those names get your interest? Me either. I really wish the team would have brought back Matt Hasselbeck to give us all peace of mind if the unthinkable happens.
As I write this, it sounds like the team is bringing in former Badger and 49er Scott Tolzien to join the practice squad. He'll no doubt be asked to provide some intel on his former team, leading up to the opener.
The release of Green was surprising, in light of the season ending injury to Du Juan Harris. But he hasn't looked like the same guy since the ACL injury and the team hopes that Johnathan Franklin can grow into the third down role they envisioned for Green. The team brought in former Jet Joe McKnight for a workout over the weekend and the return specialist could also figure into the mix if the team decides to add him.
I wasn't surprised to see DJ Williams let go, but the Matthew Mulligan cut caught me off guard. His training camp injury sealed his fate, though it didn't appear that serious. All we heard all camp was how heady he was and how he was by far the best blocker of the bunch. Special teams ace Ryan Taylor was a given, but the team's belief in youngster Brandon Bostick will be tested if Finley gets nicked, or Andrew Quarless can't get on the field.
For me, no other big surprises on offense, thought I thought WR Tyrone Walker had shown enough to earn the fifth spot over Jeremy Ross. But Ross showed enough late to hold off the challenge. Undrafted guard Lane Taylor was probably one of the last two to make the team, so he's not completely safe--he could still be practice squad-bound.
Defensively, the headline is that two undrafted guys made it: OLB Andy Mulumba (who beat out Dezman Moses) and S Chris Banjo. We say good bye to second year linebacker Terrell Manning, the victim of a deep unit which added rookie Sam Barrington.
The 53 man roster analysis would not be complete without a nod to Johnny Jolly who has made it all the way back to the NFL after a near tragic three year odyssey. If he can continue to work off the rust, he could become a key contributor to the defensive line. Let's hope he makes the most of this last chance to show he can be a professional both on and off the field.
One final note: I announced on "In the Zone" on Saturday the new fall KFAN Sunday morning schedule, which sees "Packer Preview" being moved up to 7:30am this year. The show will be 30-minutes long, commercial free and will allow the station to run even more Viking programming. In this new format I won't take phone calls. I'll answer emails and tweets and have an interview each week.
At 8, I will join Meat Sauce and AJ Mansour for the first segment of their new Vikings-themed show. Yes, it's disappointing, but at least we're back for an 18th season. Maybe it will be a one year thing. In any case, you can always sleep in and podcast it later on iTunes or "Fan on Demand" at kfan.com. And I'll get my chance to mock Viking fans on Monday mornings when I join Paul Allen for our weekly "Border Battle."