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Daily mailbag: Facing a roster battle

6/21/2010

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:

AfalavaAfalavaChicago 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.

RamirezRamirezDetroit 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.

BigbyBigbyGreen 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.

JohnsonJohnsonMinnesota 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.