Thoughts on the First 53 Man Roster

There weren't a lot of dramatic roster battles as the Packers whittled the roster to the league mandated 53 on Saturday. The biggest question was whether the team would keep two or three QBs on the roster. But there were a few interesting decisions made.

The decision to keep Flynn and Tolzien seems like the right one, especially in light of the situation the team found itself in last season. Tolzien has progressed enough to look like a viable backup for the next few seasons, while Flynn's likely the guy the team would turn to this season, should disaster strike #12. I still wouldn't rule out a trade of Flynn, if a QB-needy team comes calling.

That third QB likely cost safety Chris Banjo a shot at being the fifth safety. Banjo is a special teams ace and seems to be a capable backup, but the move of Hyde to safety and the addition of Ha Ha Clinton Dix makes that position much more solid than it was a year ago. Sean Richardson's strong preseason showing made Banjo a luxury the team just couldn't afford. I'm guessing he gets claimed on waivers--if not, he's a lock to return to the practice squad.

The most alarming position in terms of depth is the offensive line. The starters are solid, or will be, once JC Tretter returns. The backups (Sherrod and Taylor) are raw and unproven and could cause Thompson to shop the waiver wire for a veteran that might fit. Center Greg Van Roten, a former Packer, was cut by the Seahawks and could be a candidate to return.

No real surprises at the offensive skill positions, except possibly the axing of tight end Jake Stoneburner. The team kept just four tight ends to start the season, and Brandon Bostick is a few weeks away from returning. The team is banking on Rochard Rodgers being ready to tackle the starting spot, with the very average Andrew Quarless awaiting a chance to show he's worth keeping. If Bostick were healthy I have a hunch the Pack would have parted ways with Quarless.

On defense, the biggest story is the two undrafted guys who shined in the preseason. Outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott, from Toledo, was the preseason star with five sacks. His last one, against Chiefs starting tackle Donald Stephenson, no doubt locked up his spot. He won't play much, barring injury, but shows an ability to get to the quarterback and will be fun to keep an eye on. Nose tackle Mike Pennel takes BJ Raji's spot and will only play if Boyd or Guion falter in that role.

I was a bit surprised to see Jumal Rolle get released, in favor of sixthround pick Demetri Goodson, who by all accounts is a great athlete but is a latecomer to football and doesn't appear ready to contribute. He has a concussion, so it's possible he gets booted to the practice squad once he's healthy. I'd love to get Rolle back via the practice squad too, but he likely put enough on tape to draw another team's attention.

The initial roster appears deeper than usual in the secondary, at linebacker and at running back, and thinner at tight end, offensive line and the D line (though Neal and Peppers can move up to the line, and will from time to time). How it measures up against the best in the league will be answered at about 10:30 Thursday night.

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