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Cheese Curds, 9/1: Packers’ initial 53-man roster is all about potential and flexibility

Keeping all of the 7th-round rookies is a sign that the Packers believe in the players’ long-term potential and development.

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NFL: AUG 05 Green Bay Packers Training Camp Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 53-man roster now in place and the practice squad taking shape, Green Bay Packers fans finally have a clear picture of what the team will truly look like in 2022. Although the starting lineups are largely set, the decisions around special teams contributors and backups appeared to be focused heavily on long-term potential and maintaining roster flexibility.

The flexibility piece derives heavily from the NFL’s current practice squad rules, which allow teams to carry 16 players on the squad and elevate them for gameday a few times before being brought up to the 53-man roster. That is one factor that played into the team’s decision to keep just two running backs on the 53, as they were able to get both of their backups onto the practice squad.

Then there’s the long-term potential factor. We at APC had theorized as recently as two weeks ago that the Packers might elect not to keep any of their four seventh-rounders on the 53-man roster; instead, Brian Gutekunst held on to all four of them, putting a heavy focus on those players’ long-term potential instead of holding out hope for them to clear waivers while keeping other players on the 53.

One great example of this is the Packers holding on to wide receiver Samori Toure instead of Juwann Winfree, a player whom Aaron Rodgers had praised much of the summer. It looks like the Packers will get Winfree back on the practice squad, but Toure’s emergence in the last two weeks made him a priority while the team could still call up Winfree if an urgent need arises.

Now that the main roster decisions are in the past, the Packers can finally start focusing on week one’s opener in Minnesota.

Upside the deciding factor in Packers keeping rookie DL Jonathan Ford | Packers Wire
It's not just Ford where upside played a role -- the Packers kept all 11 of their 2022 draft picks, including all four 7th-rounders. Each of those players (Ford, OT Rasheed Walker, S Tariq Carpenter, and WR Samori Toure) represents a belief in long-term upside and development over immediate impact.

Packers Explain Decision to Keep Only Two Running Backs - Sports Illustrated
Meanwhile, the choice to hold on to just two running backs comes down to roster versatility, with practice squad elevations and the ability to retain both Tyler Goodson and Patrick Taylor on the squad being a big factor. Additionally, Kylin Hill is expected back sometime midseason while the team believes Amari Rodgers may be able to help out in the backfield a bit as well.

What we learned about Packers from initial roster: Special teams an emphasis - The Athletic ($)
There's no question that special teams was a huge reason for a handful of roster decisions on the bubble, but what has APC intrigued is just how much playing time some starters will get on those units.

S Morgan Burnett retires as a Packer | Packers.com
With Burnett signing a one-day ceremonial retirement contract on the day of roster cuts -- when the Packers have major questions at safety -- the jokes just write themselves.

Winnipeg mayoral candidate gets bike stolen 85 minutes after promising to reduce bike theft | CBC News
This is either a brilliant plot by Rick Shone to underscore the need for his plan or simply the universe having a sense of humor.