We are fast approaching the last preseason game of the year against the Kansas City Chiefs. I know many of us complain about preseason football and how meaningless it can be....but my friends buckle up because this game is probably extra meaningless. The starters will not play much and the coaches have their minds more set for match ups and game plans for week 1 of the regular season than this particular game. No matter what the score is if the team makes it out of it without injuries we should just call it a win and get ready for the regular season.
Of course the game isn't completely meaningless either. The game is a critical chance for many guys who are trying to keep their NFL dream alive. Since the starters, and many key backups, aren't going to be on the field long it's a chance for guys near the bottom of the depth chart to show that they can perform at the NFL level. What these players can put on tape can mean the difference between making a roster / practice squad or having to dust off their resume and find a day job like the rest of us.
Now normally when making lists like this up I like to stick to the number five. Since this is end of preseason though I want to celebrate a little and give all of you fine readers a bonus two players for this bubble watch list. That's right seven players who need to prove something on Thursday in order to stick with the Packers in some way shape or form. All this after the jump!
1. Marc Tyler. Due to injuries Tyler has gotten a nice long look with the backup offense. Sometimes this has been good (for example most of his performance against the Chargers) and some of it has been bad (for example most of his performance against the Browns). He may yet be a practice squad guy if he can hold on to the ball and string together some nice plays.
2. Tori Gurley. This is may be Gurley's last stand in Green Bay. Gurley has got to show one of two things on Thursday: A.) that he can be a viable weapon in the offense; or B.) that he can be a core special teams player. If he can show both even better for him, but one of those things have to come through clear or he may face being cut. He does seem to have enough potential to catch one somewhere else though....and if he doesn't then he would be a lock for the practice squad.
3. Sean Richardson. Safety is a funny position right now. What was supposed to be M.D. Jennings job has suddenly turned into three way battle between Anthony Levine, Jerron McMillian, and Jennings. In all this confusion Richardson has gotten a bit lost in the shuffle. Despite this, he has had solid practices and okay performances in the games. Mix all this with his superior physical skills and he could catch on if he can have a big night on Thursday and one of the other three struggles.
4. Daniel Muir. Muir is a classic two gapper who can also add a bit of nasty to the front seven. The energy and hunger that he brings is very good for a position group that was a bit lax last year, but attitude alone can't win a roster spot. The defensive line has been a close race filled with many new faces. If Muir can pop in the last preseason game he could secure a spot on the roster.
5. Don Barclay. The second unit offensive line has been straight up awful. That said, the Packers will probably have to keep at least one person out of this group of guys besides Evan Dietrich-Smith. Why not Barclay? He has been moving up the ranks and getting reps at #2 RT as well as #2 LT. This sort of flexibility and trust could go a long way, especially if he can hold is own through out the night and have some positive tape among a collection of whiffs from the linemen around him.
6. Phillip Merling. When you just look at Merling you can see why Miami drafted him so high and why the Packers have been willing to take a chance on him. He's a big dude who seems to have a good amount of upside. The problem is that he did nothing in Miami and (while not being a complete failure) hasn't done much here either. A sack or two, heck even a few pressures, may be enough for Merling to earn a spot on the roster....at least until Mike Neal completes his suspension.
7. Brandon Saine. Saine didn't start camp on the bubble. The only reason he is here now is because of the signing of Cedric Benson. This, and Benson's good performance on Thursday, means that either Starks or Saine is likely to be cut. Luckily for Saine he has gotten healthy in time for the last game when Alex Green and Benson will probably not get many carries. This means more chances for Saine to shine and try to make the Packers think twice about keeping James Starks over him.
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