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Packers 2019 roster predictions: Kyler Fackrell returns to backup role after breakout season

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Despite recording double-digit sacks in 2018, Kyler Fackrell should see less work as the result of the Packers’ offseason additions at his position group.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Since the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Green Bay Packers’ roster has changed significantly. A large group of free agents, draft picks, and undrafted rookies will come to training camp to challenge for roster spots and roles on the team’s 53-man roster. Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company will break down the roster position by position and reveal our compiled predictions for the 53-man roster.

The arrival of head coach Matt LaFleur means a heavier emphasis on tight end than in the Packers’ recent past even if most of the personnel remains intact from a season ago. The team will likely continue turning over the position in coming years, but expect some familiar faces to see the majority of the action until that process unfolds.

Starter: Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith

Providing for health, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith will enter the regular season as the Packers’ top edge rushers. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will shift either or both inside in obvious passing situations, so their status as starting outside linebackers is a bit misleading. Still, both Smiths will receive every opportunity to set the edge given the massive contracts they signed during the offseason.

Backups: Rashan Gary, Kyler Fackrell, Reggie Gilbert

Two of the Packers’ top backup outside linebackers underscore the improved depth at the position. Kyler Fackrell lead the team in sacks a season ago and Rashan Gary arrived in Green Bay as the No. 12 overall pick. In most circumstances, either would start or at least compete for the opportunity to do so. However, the arrival of Za’Darius and Preston Smith allows both to fall into reserve roles. Meanwhile, Reggie Gilbert seems decently positioned to take a spot behind them.

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Released: Kendall Donnerson, Greg Roberts, Randy Ramsey

The trio of Kendall Donnerson, Greg Roberts, and Randy Ramsey each offer considerable potential despite entering the league as late-round picks or undrafted free agents. Donnerson scores as one of the best athletes in Green Bay at any position, Roberts offers a strong athletic profile as well, and Ramsey comes in with plenty of experience from his time at Arkansas. Accordingly, if any or all miss the final cut, they could realistically end up on the Packers’ practice squad.