In a normal year those who have avoided "the Turk" at this point could rest easy. In a normal year those on the bubble were safe come week one. In a normal year a team may have only one or two players expected to come back later. The problem is that this is not a normal year for the Green Bay Packers.
Currently, there are two players facing suspensions and three players on the PUP, all five of which could return at different times of the season. Erik Walden is set to come back after week one from his suspension. Mike Neal is set to return after week four from his suspension. The players on PUP will be able to come back after week six (although that may still be pushed back a couple weeks for them to practice). Thus there will be at least three different cut down moments where players who still sit on the bubble will face a a potential cut as the season goes on. Which Packers should be worried about these impending roster moves?
The first guy that pops to my mind is Brandian Ross. Ross is a young and promising cornerback, but the problem is that the Packers have many young promising cornerbacks at the moment on the roster. Ross was a bit of a surprise to me when he made the roster at the end of the preseason. He didn't have the worst preseason out of the group, of course he didn't have a great preseason either. Ross became the sixth corner on the roster (or possibly seventh depending on how you count Charles Woodson). I don't think the Packers need that many, especially with the rise of Davon House and Casey Hayward. Ross should be a great addition to the practice squad, but a part of me will be surprised if he lasts past Walden's week one suspension.
The next player still on the bubble is probably Phillip Merling. This is a obvious choice for two reasons 1.) he didn't do much during the preseason, and 2.) he is currently filling the same role that Neal will fill once Neal gets back form suspension. Throw in the fact that Neal had a strong performance in the Kansas City game (one of his few opportunities) and Merling status after week 4 should be questionable at best.
Defensive players aren't the only ones on the bubble, especially since the main two players on the PUP who have a shot of making the roster, Andrew Quarless and Derek Sherrod, both play on offense. The problem here is that I am not sure the Packers will cut from the players currently playing the position either of these guys play. The offensive line is stretched too thin as it is to cut a guy like Don Barclay or Evan Dietrich-Smith. Tight end could be cut back some - I wouldn't mind parting ways with Ryan Taylor and I know many would not shed a tear to see Tom Crabtree go - but the Packers like the versatility of that position so much that it's hard to see a cut there to get these PUP players back.
Instead, the cut will probably come for the current surplus of WR's and HB"s sitting on the Packers roster. Namely in the form of Brandon Saine and Jarrett Boykin. Saine spent much of camp injured and did not get any action in the preseason games. The coaching staff was high on him last year and he was generally okay. Many expected him not to make the roster this year with the addition of Cedric Benson and Alex Green getting healthy, but the lingering injury to James Starks opened the door for Saine to stick around at least a little bit longer. If injuries strike the RB position again this year Saine may just hang on through it and allow a different player to be moved to IR, but all things being equal (or rather assuming no injuries) I have a tough time seeing him stick on the roster past the midpoint of the season.
Jarrett Boykin is another one to watch when cut downs come through. He was the most consistent receiver in camp not named Jordy Nelson, but it was still a bit of a surprise when he made it to the final 53. He's not particularly fast or strong, but he is a very good route runner and able to get separation when it counts. This lack of supreme physical upside makes me believe that he may be a casualty when some of the cuts come in. Boykin is not a special teams contributor as say Crabtree or Taylor. He is not the potential mismatch of Quarless, D.J. Williams, or Jermichael Finley. It will also be tough for him to crack the game day active roster being so low on the WR depth chart. A year on the PS should be good for him and he will have a good camp battle with Diondre Borel next year for a roster spot left open by Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, or both.
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