Up until the Green Bay Packers’ Family Night practice two weeks ago, it looked like returning safety Rudy Ford would be the player to fill Adrian Amos’ vacancy at the safety position. At that point, Ford had taken the vast majority of first-team defense snaps opposite of Darnell Savage — one of the two presumed starters at the position.
Since then, though, the story of Ford’s playing time has opened up the door for this question: Is Ford on the roster bubble?
On Family Night, Jonathan Owens — a 2023 free-agent signing — out-snapped Ford 19-to-5 in first-team reps. In the preseason opener, Ford was displaced from the third safety on the team by Tarvarius Moore.
Meanwhile, Ford was not a “starter” on any of the Packers’ core special teams units against the Cincinnati Bengals last week — which saw 20 players earn “starts” on those four units. More concerning for Ford, six defensive backs were special teams starters in preseason Week 1 — not counting inside linebacker Tariq Carpenter, who recently moved from the safety position this spring.
If Ford isn’t a top-three safety on defense and isn’t a starter on special teams, it’s going to be tough for him to make this young roster — which already faces a logjam at receiver, cornerback and safety, positions with similar body types.
Ford is a special teams ace, earning the majority of his playing time there over his career. For perspective, in his first four years in the league, Ford played just 125 defensive snaps to 806 special teams snaps with the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles.
The pecking order at safety, currently, has Savage as a starter, Owens and Moore fighting for the number two spot and Ford fourth. Unfortunately, fourth on the defensive depth chart might not be enough to make the cut, as Dallin Leavitt — who started on three of four core special teams units versus the Bengals — is a significant special teams contributor. The dark horse at the position, too, is rookie seventh-round pick Anthony Johnson Jr., who made plays both on defense and special teams in his NFL debut.
In the span of two weeks, Ford — who hasn’t had a reported injury — has gone from a likely starter to a player who may find himself the odd man out in the safety room, based on recent playing time. According to Spotrac, the cost to cut Ford — who started six games for the Packers in 2022 — is only $50,000 in cap space. Keep an eye on Ford’s rotation in the secondary over Green Bay’s final two preseason games, as it could give a hint at where the team’s at on him.