When the Green Bay Packers start working one week from today to officially prepare for their season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, their roster will look very different than it has in years past. Most seasons have consisted of 63 players in the building — a 53-man roster plus ten players on the practice squad. However, a 2020 NFL roster will have six extra players for a total of 69, with added flexibility for gameday activations in the event of COVID-related issues.
That different roster composition dictates that coaches and general managers approach final cuts a bit differently. With training camp in the rear-view mirror and the Packers moving forward to regular-season preparations, Matt LaFleur said on Monday that the front office has made most of the decisions about the roster ahead of Saturday’s deadline.
“We feel pretty confident with the guys that are going to be on this team,” LaFleur told reporters via Zoom. “The way we’re focused on our roster, it’s a 69-man roster this year. Everybody better be ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
LaFleur acknowledged that the team is dealing with some injuries to a few key players coming out of the camp atmosphere and that it may affect the makeup of Saturday’s final 53: “We just gotta wait and see kind of where we’re at health-wise and all that.” He would not go into details about which players or position groups are dealing with issues, but on Sunday — the team’s final practice that was open to the media — a few notable players like Oren Burks, Raven Greene, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Montravius Adams remained out.
When Saturday does roll around, the Packers won’t handle cuts any differently than they did in a pre-pandemic setting. In other words, they will deliver the news personally. “When you have to make some tough decisions you’re taking somebody’s dream away from them, potentially, or at least momentarily,” LaFleur said. “You want to have those conversations man-to-man, and they’ve definitely deserved it.”
Of course, while the back end of the roster is still uncertain — at least for everyone outside of the personnel department and coaching staff — it’s the right side of the offensive line that presents the most intriguing position battle on this team. LaFleur said that the team has not yet made a decision, and that the competition may continue throughout the year: “We’re still working through those combinations and until we feel like we have the right five we’re going to continue it that way,” he said. “I love competition because it elevates people’s play.”
Lane Taylor in particular has impressed this summer after coming back and taking a pay cut to stay in Green Bay. It should not come as a surprise of Taylor wins the right guard job, and he was the only Packers lineman to finish undefeated in one-on-one pass-rushing drills. “He’s somebody we know that we can count on,” LaFleur said, suggesting a comfort level with him at that position.
The Packers are scheduled to have an off day on Tuesday.