Daily mailbag: Facing a roster battle

June, 21, 2010
Mike of Atlanta suggested an interesting exercise to kick off the week: Who do you think will be the biggest name to NOT make the 53-man roster for each of the NFC North teams?

We obviously can't foresee training camp surprises and disappointments, but I do think we can begin focusing on some relatively well-known players who -- at the very least -- have their work cut out to ensure another year on the roster. Let's take a look:

Chicago Bears
Look out:
Safety Al Afalava
Comment: After starting 13 games last season, Afalava seems to have fallen off the map. Last week, general manager Jerry Angelo mentioned five players while discussing the Bears' safety position. Afalava was not among them.
Not far behind: Tight end Kellen Davis
Comment: Earlier this offseason, it was fair to wonder whether the Bears would keep the younger Davis over veteran Desmond Clark. But based on spring practices, at least, Davis is the one who should be worried.

Detroit Lions
Look out:
Guard Manny Ramirez
Comment: He started 12 games last season, but the Lions acquired Rob Sims to take over at left guard. Stephen Peterman remains in place at right guard, leaving Ramirez to compete for a backup position.
Not far behind: Receiver Bryant Johnson
Comment: The Lions demoted Johnson by signing free agent Nate Burleson, and it's unlikely that Johnson and Dennis Northcutt will both make the team. Based on age and contract, you figure Johnson has the upper hand. But you never know, especially if Johnson's hands don't improve this summer.

Green Bay Packers
Look out:
Safety Atari Bigby
Comment: We've discussed his situation pretty thoroughly. If rookie Morgan Burnett is ready to start, the Packers aren't likely to hold him back.
Not far behind: Defensive lineman Justin Harrell
Comment: Johnny Jolly's trial notwithstanding, this might be Harrell's final chance with the Packers. Even if he's healthy, it's difficult to see a spot on the roster for him.

Minnesota Vikings
Look out:
Receiver Jaymar Johnson
Comment: Not many backup punt returners make a team.
Not far behind: Receiver Bobby Wade
Comment: Whoops. Wrong year.



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