Tuesday, August 31 is marked on many NFL players’ calendars as the day they will be anxiously awaiting to see if they begin the regular season on an active 53-man roster. For the Green Bay Packers, the date is quickly approaching but there is one last opportunity for some of those players to cement their positions during Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
The Packers’ offensive linemen might be some of the more eager members of the roster as cut-down day nears and today’s musings give a prediction of how that position group might shape up. However, one of the biggest storylines of the week is the loss of two veterans to injured reserve - Will Redmond and Devin Funchess. After another up-and-down week of special teams, how will Redmond’s injury impact the several units he was a part of, not to mention the team’s very inexperienced safety room? That topic is explored first before keying in on another important figure of the special teams room.
How big of an impact is Will Redmond’s season-ending injury?
While Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos are promising and experienced starting safeties, the Packers have relatively little proven talent at the position beyond them. Safety depth was somewhat of a topic of concern leading into the spring and again in the aftermath of the draft. But with Will Redmond’s recent movement to injured reserve, the issue becomes larger.
When Green Bay re-signed Redmond to a one-year deal in early April, it was not one of the earth-shattering moves of an eventful offseason. After all, he had his share of inconsistencies in a respectable 340 defensive snaps in 2020. However, it was a small move to insure the safety position, especially after little was done outside of the transaction. Losing Redmond, who also played 238 special teams snaps last season (a unit with its own share of issues), now puts a lot of pressure on second-year players Henry Black and Vernon Scott to become reliable rotational pieces. While each have made their share of plays during training camp, there will be a lot of wait-and-see for each player during the regular season unless another outside veteran is signed during final cuts. The injury also opens the door for the ultra-athletic Christian Uphoff to make a run at the final roster and he will be one player to watch in the final exhibition game this weekend.
For a defense with a new coordinator that might rely heavily on availability of defensive backs, especially if Savage is used at the “star” position, the loss of a player like Redmond, who has been a corner-safety tweener, is concerning. Redmond’s foot injury must have been serious enough for the Packers not to wait until the September 1 injured reserve designation, which would have allowed him to return later in the season, because his absence impacts two separate units significantly.
Will JK Scott ever have the consistency the Packers need?
The former Alabama punter might be destined for another year on the Packers’ roster, but if Scott has hopes for a longer stay, he must find some level of consistency quickly.
This will be a make-or-break fourth year for Scott who may even perhaps face an important third game of the preseason to become a roster lock. Any NFL team covets a strong leg from its punter, but not if it must sacrifice consistency in critical situations. The past couple years have posed a challenge for Scott in those scenarios and created shorter fields for the opposition. Against the New York Jets last week, Scott lacked consistency again. Sandwiched between punts of 42, 49, and 51 yards was a 21-yard shank that set up the Jets to begin their drive from the 50-yard line. While Scott’s performance against Houston two weeks ago was much more consistent (47, 49, 46), the 21-yarder was a reminder of the struggles Scott has had during his career on a day in which the special teams was not “special” once again.
The 2021 season, a contract year, will be crucial for Scott and his long-term outlook. Although he is the only punter on the Green Bay roster at this moment, Saturday’s game might be a pivotal game for keeping it that way.
Here is a stab at the final roster’s offensive linemen
While not abnormal, the final game of the preseason will be a fighting ground among the offensive line in particular. Last year, the Packers kept nine linemen on the first version of the 53-man squad. With David Bakhtiari figuring to be initially held out to start the regular season, one more slot might be available on the line than usual if Bakhtiari is transferred to the reserve PUP list for the first six weeks of the year. That certainly helps the cause for several reserves battling at tackle.
With one final game to play on the exhibition slate, here is one idea of how the group might take form.
- Billy Turner
- Elgton Jenkins
- Josh Myers
- Lucas Patrick
- Jon Runyan
- Yosh Nijman
- Ben Braden
- Royce Newman
- Cole Van Lanen
PUP: David Bakhtiari