The Green Bay Packers will play their final exhibition game of the preseason at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs (kickoff at 7 p.m. CST), and players such as wide receiver Jeremy Ross, quarterback Vince Young, kicker Mason Crosby, defensive tackle Johnny Jolly, and safety Chris Banjo will be among many Packers to focus on in the preseason finale.
Ross, a dynamic player with the ability to excel on special teams, will look to garner the no. 5 wide receiver spot behind Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, and Jarrett Boykin. Ross is competing with undrafted rookie wideouts Tyrone Walker and Myles White for a roster spot. In three preseason games, Ross has four receptions for 20 yards, and he is averaging 25.6 yards per kickoff return and 10.5 yards per punt return.
Young is competing with 2nd-year man B.J. Coleman for the backup quarterback job, less than a week after the Packers released veteran quarterback Graham Harrell. Young said he has become “more comfortable” with the Packers offense since Green Bay signed him days before their first exhibition game. Young has completed 12/19 passes for 74 yards and one touchdown, while also recording six carries for 58 rushing yards in three exhibition games.
Crosby, who took a $1.6 million pay-cut earlier on Thursday, has a great opportunity to lock up the starting kicking job in Kansas City. The Packers released kickers Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez earlier this week, but Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy and General Manager Ted Thompson said there are “many possible scenarios” to possibly bring Tavecchio back to Green Bay. Crosby has made 4/4 field goals in the preseason.
Jolly, who has been "impressive" in training camp according to McCarthy, creates great attention on Thursday away from the bubble talk. Jolly hasn't played in an NFL regular season game since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him indefinitely from the league after the 2009 season, as Jolly was handed down multiple drug charges related to codeine. Defensive tackle Jerel Worthy's knee injury helps Jolly's chances to make the final cut. Jolly has three total tackles and an interception in the preseason.
Banjo, signed by the Packers at the start of training camp, has been a pleasant surprise in training camp, as McCarthy said he is “very pleased” with Banjo’s progress and effort throughout August. The Packers will keep three or four safeties on the 53-man regular season roster, and Banjo would be the fourth safety behind Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, and Jerron McMillian if he stands out on Thursday. Banjo has eight total tackles in the preseason.
Listed below are the likely 2013 Green Bay Packers 53-man regular season roster locks:
|QB Aaron Rodgers||DL C.J. Wilson|
|RB Eddie Lacy||DE Datone Jones|
|RB Johnathan Franklin||DE Mike Neal|
|FB John Kuhn||DE Mike Daniels|
|WR James Jones||OLB Clay Matthews|
|WR Jordy Nelson||OLB Nick Perry|
|WR Randall Cobb||OLB Dezman Moses|
|WR Jarrett Boykin||LB Brad Jones|
|TE Jermichael Finley||LB A.J. Hawk|
|TE D.J. Williams||LB Robert Francois|
|TE Andrew Quarless||CB Tramon Williams|
|OL David Bakhtiari||CB Sam Shields|
|OL Josh Sitton||CB Micah Hyde|
|OL Evan Dietrich-Smith||CB Casey Hayward|
|OL T.J. Lang||CB Jarrett Bush|
|OL Marshall Newhouse||S Morgan Burnett|
|OL Don Barclay||S M.D. Jennings|
|DL B.J. Raji||S Jerron McMillian|
|DL Ryan Pickett|
On offense and defense, the Packers likely have 37 players locked up. Including a kicker, punter Tim Masthay, and long-snapper Brett Goode, 40 roster spots are essentially locked up, and 13 more spots are up for grabs on Thursday night. NFL teams are required to trim their rosters to 53 players by 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Besides Young, Coleman, Ross, Walker, and White, other notable offensive players to keep an eye on in Thursday’s finale includes running backs Alex Green and James Starks; tight ends Matthew Mulligan, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick, and Jake Stoneburner; and offensive linemen Lane Taylor, Andrew Datko, and Greg Van Roten.
On the Packers defense, besides Jolly and Banjo, fans should watch out for defensive tackle Jordan Miller; outside linebackers Donte Savage, Andy Mulumba, and Nate Palmer; inside linebackers Jamari Lattimore, Terrell Manning, and Sam Barrington; cornerbacks Davon House, Loyce Means, Brandon Smith, and James Nixon.
Additionally, the Packers will most likely keep one quarterback, one running back, one wide receiver, two tight ends, two offensive linemen, one defensive tackle, three linebackers, and two defensive backs of the 27 Packer players on the roster bubble heading into the 2013 season.
Preseason finales are typically snooze fests, but if you’re a Packer fan, there may be too much to watch before the real football begins in San Francisco on September 8th.
Other News and Notes: Cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring), linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring), safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring) have all been ruled out against the Chiefs…Wide receivers Jordy Nelson (knee) and Randall Cobb (biceps) are questionable and probable, respectively, for tonight’s game. Both have yet to play in an exhibition game this preseason…team captains for tonight’s game are offensive guard Josh Sitton, defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, and tight end D.J. Williams.
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