We continue on with our predictions for the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster coming out of training camp as we move along to the running back position. Last season there was a bit of a surprise at tailback in camp, as undrafted rookie Alonzo Harris beat out fellow rookie John Crockett and practice squadder Rajion Neal for the third-string job in week one. However, Harris ended up getting released and Crockett was promoted late in the season.
This year, there seems to be little intrigue among the running backs. If there is one elephant in the room, it is among the fullbacks - John Kuhn’s continuing status as an unsigned free agent continues to loom. If the two players on the roster do indeed falter, there’s always a chance that the team could go back to the veteran near the end of camp.
However, we don’t see that happening this summer. Here are our projections for the players making the 53-man roster out of camp.
On the roster
Starters: Eddie Lacy (RB), Aaron Ripkowski (FB)
With Lacy already looking slimmer in OTAs and minicamp, APC’s bet is that he continues his hard work throughout the break before training camp and comes to Green Bay in great shape. If he does, there’s no reason to think that he will cede the starting job. And with this being a contract year for him, that’s just more motivation for him to put in the work this summer.
At fullback, APC is in agreement that Ripkowski maintains the job - and that John Kuhn will remain a free agent rather than coming back to Green Bay on short notice.
Backups: James Starks, John Crockett
Starks’ roster spot is secure, as his two-year contract makes it a sure thing that he’ll be around in 2016. The one question is the third running back spot, but our bet is that Crockett’s identification of the areas he needs to improve - special teams in particular - lead to him locking in the third-string job.
To be released
Don Jackson, Brandon Burks, Alstevis Squirewell
If all goes as we expect, the undrafted rookies will be let go this season, instead of the team keeping one as the third-string back like they did a year ago with Alonzo Harris. Our bet is that neither Jackson nor Burks shows anything special in camp that forces the team to keep them on the 53-man roster, but we also expect at least one of them to end up on the practice squad.
As for Squirewell, the transitions back to fullback and from Division II football to the NFL will be too tough for one training camp. He might be a practice squad candidate as well, but he realistically would need to beat out both Ripkowski and Kuhn to earn a spot on the team.