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Packers Bubble Watch: Players to watch against the Eagles

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We highlight four players who need to play well on Thursday night to maintain their position in tough roster battles.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to dust off your cheeseheads and break out the green and gold overalls, because the NFL offseason is finally coming to a close. While this is good news for deprived football fans everywhere, the season’s start will unfortunately mean a sad departure for a few players on this year’s roster bubble.

Several Packers rookies like CB Kevin King, WR Malachi Dupre and second-year defensive lineman Dean Lowry have already shown promise in both their pre-season workouts and family night reps. However, one players good fortune means another player’s misfortune. Here are four players who could find themselves hanging up their Packer cleats in the coming weeks.

Jeff Janis

One of this year’s biggest question marks is WR Jeff Janis. Janis, who is now in his fourth season with Green Bay, has been a key component of the Packers’ special teams from the beginning, but he pitched in last season with a bit of production on offense. In 2016, Janis recorded 11 catches for 93 yards and one touchdown and two carries for 38 yards and a touchdown.

Janis has definitely performed well on special teams during his career in Green Bay and could continue to be a key contributor if he makes the roster. However, with several other players who have shown more potential as part of Green Bay’s offense, it’s likely we’ll see Janis searching for a new home if he doesn’t have a very productive pre-season.

Either way, should Janis find himself in a new city, Green Bay will always remember this miracle Hail Mary catch from Rodgers during the 2015 playoffs.

Joe Thomas

Much like the rest of the defense, the Packers have struggled to find balance and rhythm at the inside linebacker position in recent years, with Clay Matthews moving from inside to outside and back inside again. However, this year’s defensive roster is already bit deeper and more promising going into the start of the season.

LB Joe Thomas as served primarily as a third down guy and McCarthy recently described him as being “further ahead than what he’s been,” but with the increasing competition at that position, including reps from rookie safety Josh Jones and veteran Morgan Burnett, Thomas could see himself on the outside looking in (and not on the offensive line) a few weeks from now. He will need to prove himself valuable all over again, starting tomorrow against the Eagles.

Brian Price

Earlier this week, the Packers announced the injury to defensive lineman and rookie third-round pick Montravius Adams. It’s looking like Adams will miss multiple weeks, which is unfortunate news for a defensive line that is slowly improving behind the leadership of DT Mike Daniels.

However, with the injury to Adams, defensive lineman Brian Price now has a better chance of showing off his skill set this preseason. Veteran Ricky Jean Francois has been a vocal advocate of Price thus far saying of his teammate, “He’s explosive, strong, (and doesn’t) get tired.”

With the help of his veteran teammates and a strong performance in the preseason, Price’s chances of making the 53-man roster improve, but it will still be an uphill battle.

Richard Rodgers

For years Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy have been vocal about their affection for the TE position in Green Bay. Rodgers has always said he enjoys the flexibility having not just one but two TEs can bring to his offense, “the opportunity to put two guys on the line of scrimmage and have an opportunity to run right, run left and then run all of our vertical passing game is going to be something that could definitely change and be more difficult to stop."

However, since the unfortunate departure of Jermichael Finley to injury back in 2013, the Packers have struggled to find a suitable replacement in that position.

That is, until this year. Ted Thompson proved that he’s serious about stepping up the game in the middle of the field by signing Martellus Bennett and in turn giving Aaron Rogers more options to test defenses.

With Bennett the likely number one TE and former Rams player Lance Kendricks at number 2, that leaves R. Rodgers to follow. While it’s questionable whether Rodgers would actually get cut, he still has a good amount to prove this preseason if he wants a chance to see the field come September. Hopefully he is on the field on Thursday after leaving Tuesday’s practice with an undisclosed injury.

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The Packers are already looking to be a major NFL powerhouse with the amount of depth they’ve built into their roster this offseason. Injuries have plagued the defense in the past and left the Packers often times to play catch-up on offense. However, with this year’s team looking to be the one of the strongest in recent memory, many players on the roster bubble are fighting a tough battle to be a part of one of the most competitive teams in the league this season. But it’s a battle that could pay off with a ring come February.