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Tough Cuts at Tight End and Running Back Lies Ahead for Green Bay Packers

August 30th, 2013 at 4:25 PM
By Sean Tehan

The Green Bay Packers finished off the 2013 preseason poorly last night, as the Kansas City Chiefs blew out the Packers, 30-8. Despite the lopsided score, many Packer players made quite a case for why they should be one of 53 players on the Packers regular season roster. Earlier on Thursday, we here at Packers 101 listed the likely roster locks heading into the 2013 season:

QB Aaron RodgersDE Datone Jones
RB Eddie LacyDE Mike Daniels
RB Johnathan FranklinDE Mike Neal
FB John KuhnOLB Clay Matthews
WR James JonesOLB Nick Perry
WR Randall CobbOLB Dezman Moses
WR Jordy NelsonLB Brad Jones
WR Jarrett BoykinLB A.J. Hawk
TE Jermichael FinleyLB Robert Francois
TE D.J. WilliamsCB Tramon Williams
TE Andrew QuarlessCB Sam Shields
OL David BakhtiariCB Casey Hayward
OL Josh SittonCB Micah Hyde
OL Evan Dietrich-SmithCB Jarrett Bush
OL T.J. LangS Morgan Burnett
OL Marshall NewhouseS M.D. Jennings
OL Don BarclayS Jerron McMillian
DL B.J. RajiK Mason Crosby
DL Ryan PickettP Tim Masthay
DL C.J. WilsonLS Brett Goode

Which players should fulfill the final 13 spots on the roster? We here at Packers 101 bring you our picks for who should stay for the 2013 season, and who should be sent home on the offensive side of the football.

QUARTERBACK: Vince Young, B.J. Coleman

In the preseason finale, Young completed 14/30 passes for 144 yards, recorded 12 rushing yards, and two fumbles. Coleman wasn’t any better, completing 2/7 passes for 19 yards and throwing one interception.

“I just wanted to get out there and get better”, Young said after the game on Thursday. “I’ve been through all kind of stuff in my career. I do what the coach asks me to do and I work with the younger guys, just to let them know if you make a good or bad play, don’t worry about it”.

Young doesn’t deserve full-blame for both fumbles last night though, as relentless pressure and poor pass-blocking from the right side of the offensive line disrupted Young’s rhythm throughout the evening.

Coleman only played in the first half, and we here at Packers 101 believe the coaches made up their mind on their backup quarterback by the 3rd quarter last night. Coleman had an opportunity to engineer a two-minute drill to end the first half, but the Packers went three and out, leading to a Chiefs touchdown on the ensuing drive. Coleman threw errant and overthrown passes all evening, and he didn’t look comfortable in the pocket.

Last season at this time, Young was in Buffalo Bills training camp, and Coleman had stapled his status as the Packers practice squad quarterback. Young was released by the Bills at the 53-man roster deadline before the 2012 season, but in a shaky backup quarterback situation in Green Bay, expect Coleman to be the Packers’ practice squad quarterback once again.


RUNNING BACK: Alex Green, James Starks, Jonathan Amosa

After last night’s dismal showing in the running game, it is hard to determine whether Alex Green or James Starks solidified one of the Packers running back spots in 2013. Green had seven carries for ten yards, while Starks had three carries for 14 yards.

Starks didn’t appear in the game until the second half, and we here at Packers 101 feel he is much better than Green. Both Green and Starks run hard, but Starks shows off the strength and strides to be great…not good, great. When Green runs, his feet seem to be moving a mile a minute, but he doesn’t gain yards up the field (seriously, look at his YPC and the footage from last night). Starks always runs forward, he is healthy, and his pass protection in the offensive backfield is excellent.

Amosa didn’t help his case to earn a role on the Packers 2013 regular season roster last night either. Amosa, who played in the majority of last night’s game at fullback, was the lead blocker in a rushing attack which averaged 2.6 yards per carry—that won’t cut it this year in Green Bay.


WIDE RECEIVER: Jeremy Ross, Charles Johnson, Tyrone Walker, Myles White

Last night, one receiver of this group clearly stood out and solidified his role on the team—Jeremy Ross, who caught three passes for 50 yards. Ross didn’t seem to make many mistakes in his route-running, made tough catches along the sideline, and showed off the kind of athleticism the Packers want to see in their receivers.

“I feel like I’ve done well and made a lot of good strides in the right direction”, Ross said after the game. “I’ve only improved, but there is still room for me to grow, and I can continue to grow, but I’ve made some good steps in the right direction. If the coaches need me to be the fourth or fifth guy I will do that”.

Undrafted rookies Myles White and Tyrone Walker didn’t shine like Ross, but both receivers turned in solid efforts on Thursday. White caught two passes for 35 yards, and Walker caught five passes for 30 yards. Despite combining for seven catches and 65 yards, both receivers each fumbled the football once.

Packers 7th round rookie draft pick Charles Johnson finally played in a preseason game, but he didn’t have an opportunity to shine last night. Johnson was targeted on three deep passing attempts, but each pass was overthrown—unfair for a kid trying to become an NFL wide receiver in his first true professional opportunity.

The Packers may keep up to six or seven wide receivers on the team this season, but the question is how many receivers will be placed on the 53-man roster or signed to the practice squad? We here at Packers 101 believe the team should only add one more receiver to the bunch in 2013.


TIGHT END: Matthew Mulligan, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner

Tight ends didn’t shine on Thursday night, but there were still some positives to come away with after last night’s game.

Ryan Taylor caught a third-down pass for 24 yards, showing off his excellent hands and ball skills near the sideline while being draped over by a Chiefs’ defender. Brandon Bostick had an 11-yard catch and run off of a bootleg pass from Vince Young later in the game, and he showed excellent speed in space.

Free agent pickup Matthew Mulligan and undrafted rookie Jake Stoneburner were each targeted once the entire game, but neither player recorded a catch in the preseason finale.

We here at Packers 101 believe Packers head coach Mike McCarthy will decide to keep at least Taylor, as his size (6’3 254) is perfect for an H-back style of player, and he has the athleticism to contribute and be a factor on special teams.

Choosing to keep either Bostick, Mulligan, or Stoneburner is a toss-up. McCarthy has said all offseason that his goal is for the Packers to improve the offensive rushing attack. If McCarthy sticks to his preseason word, Mulligan should make the cut, as his track record as a successful run-blocking tight end with the New York Jets and St. Louis Rams should earn him a spot.


OFFENSIVE LINE: Lane Taylor, Andrew Datko, Greg Van Roten

Last season, the Packers kept eight offensive linemen on their roster, but we here at Packers 101 believe the Packers will keep seven players total. The reason why? Last year, the team brought in center Jeff Saturday as a one-year fix, and offensive tackle Derek Sherrod’s season was over before it even began.

One year later, Saturday has retired from the NFL, and Sherrod could return to the Packers at midseason (Sherrod is currently on the PUP list and he is required to miss the first six games). Sherrod, the Packers first-round draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, hasn’t played in an NFL game since breaking his leg in Week 15 of the 2011 regular season against the Chiefs.

Van Roten is the top candidate to be the team’s backup center to Evan Dietrich-Smith this season. Van Roten can also play offensive guard and offensive tackle, as his versatility is something the Packers coaches love about the former undrafted rookie free agent. Van Roten’s name wasn’t called often during last night’s game either, meaning he wasn’t making mistakes.

According to McCarthy, undrafted rookie Lane Taylor has had an impressive training camp—until last night. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy showed a lack of speed getting up to the second-level of the Chiefs’ defense, and also whiffed on numerous blocks—a sign of slow and poor footwork.

Lastly, one word can describe Andrew Datko—SOFT. As an offensive tackle at Florida State, Datko was one of the ACC’s best until he had to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery during his senior season. We here at Packers 101 are blaming the shoulder surgery for Datko’s inability to move and cement blocks on opposing defenders. Datko was also the player partially responsible for both of Vince Young’s fumbles last night.


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Tags: Football, Green Bay, Green Bay Packers, Greg Van Roten, James Starks, Jeremy Ross, Matthew Mulligan, NFL, Ryan Taylor, Vince Young

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