NFC North: NFL Roster Analysis 2010

Chicago Bears cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
9/04/10
8:42
PM ET
Check here for a full list of Chicago's roster moves.

Biggest surprise: There were no earth-shattering moments Saturday for the Bears. But it was sobering to see them give up on three members of their 2009 draft class, including defensive end Jarron Gilbert, receiver Juaquin Iglesias and safety Al Afalava. Defensive lineman Henry Melton squeezed onto the roster, and the class did produce two 2010 starters: Receiver Johnny Knox and right guard Lance Louis. Meanwhile, guard Josh Beekman was put out of his misery. The Bears have been trying to replace Beekman for two years and finally released him. Finally, the Bears kept four tailbacks -- Matt Forte, Chester Taylor, Kahlil Bell and Garrett Wolfe. Forte and Taylor are expected to get all of the offensive snaps, but Bell and Wolfe have special teams value.

No-brainers: There was plenty of excitement when the Bears drafted quarterback Dan LeFevour, an Illinois native, but it was apparent early in training camp that he wasn't destined to make the roster. The Bears devoted all of their offensive reps to starter Jay Cutler and then-backup Caleb Hanie. Todd Collins has taken over at No. 2 because of Hanie's shoulder injury, and there was no way the Bears were going to release Hanie and keep LeFevour. You wonder if he won't end up back on their practice squad.

What's next: The Bears are going to have to get their special teams re-situated after releasing Tim Shaw, who led the team with 30 special teams tackles last year. It appears Shaw was released to make room for linebacker Brian Iwuh, who the team believes is more suited for its defensive scheme.

Detroit Lions cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
9/04/10
8:29
PM ET
Check here for a full list of Detroit's's roster moves.

Biggest surprise: Veteran cornerbacks Dre Bly and Eric King were among six cornerbacks released. The Lions' secondary was hardly exemplary during the preseason, but you figured Bly or King would make the team to provide some level of veteran presence. As it stands now, the Lions' cornerbacks include starters Chris Houston and Jonathan Wade, rookie Aaron Berry and newcomer Alphonso Smith. I'm not saying it was a mistake to cut Bly and King. Just a bit surprising. Defensive tackle Landon Cohen, meanwhile, saw the Lions overhaul his position in the offseason, but seemed to make enough plays in training camp and during the preseason to earn a roster spot. Instead, his spot went to Andre Fluellen. Finally, the Lions chose Aaron Brown over DeDe Dorsey for the final running back spot. Dorsey made two big plays in the preseason finale, but coaches chose Brown's speed and potential special teams contribution.

No-brainers: I give the Lions credit for releasing linebacker Vinny Ciurciu. He entered training camp as a player focused on special teams, but spent most of it filling in for injured middle linebacker DeAndre Levy. Ciurciu hasn't played much linebacker in his career, and unfortunately for him, the extended time revealed that he wouldn't be able to hold down the position should he be called on in a relief role during the season.

What's next: The Lions need to settle their secondary following this weekend of flux. Who is their nickel back? What about the dime? Will rookie Amari Spievey remain at safety or move back to cornerback to provide more depth? The team is also going to need to spend some more time looking for depth at linebacker. It wouldn't be a surprise to see them focus at that position over the next few days.

Green Bay Packers cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
9/04/10
8:06
PM ET
Check here for a full list of Green Bay's roster moves.

Biggest surprise: Spencer Havner was the Packers' No. 3 tight end last year and this summer, but his versatility seemed to make him a valuable part of the roster. He's a competent receiver, a good blocker, decent on special teams and also can play linebacker. Perhaps he wasn't good enough in any of those roles to justify a roster spot for. I don't know for sure. Regardless, the Packers chose veteran Donald Lee, rookie Andrew Quarless and also Tom Crabtree ahead of him. Meanwhile, we discussed the possibility that defensive back/kick returner Will Blackmon might get squeezed out. But it appears the Packers believe he isn't close to recovering fully from an October knee injury. They officially placed him on injured reserve, but he'll eventually be waived in accordance with an injury settlement.

No-brainers: The Packers parted ways with offensive lineman Allen Barbre, who had a disastrous seven-game stint at right tackle last season. It was about time. Like Blackmon, Barbre was placed on injured reserve, but eventually will be waived. On the other side of the equation, the Packers couldn't do anything but keep rookie cornerback Sam Shields. I'm not sure how much he'll play immediately, but he showed too much potential this summer to risk exposing to waivers.

What's next: Waiving Chris Bryan should mean that Tim Masthay will be the Packers' Week 1 punter, but we'll wait to get confirmation from the Packers on that. After parting ways with Blackmon and Jason Chery, it's not clear who will be the Packers' kickoff or punt returners. Likely candidates are running back Brandon Jackson and receiver Jordy Nelson. As of now, the Packers have more fullbacks on their roster (three) than running backs (two). I wonder if that will change in the coming days.

Minnesota Vikings cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
9/04/10
6:13
PM ET
Check here for a full list of Minnesota's roster moves.

Biggest surprise: Veteran receiver Javon Walker had a difficult task: proving he was back to his playmaking self after three years of relative inactivity. Two touchdowns in two preseason games suggested he was on his way, but ultimately the Vikings weren't willing to risk a roster spot -- and, because he is a vested veteran, guarantee his base salary for the season. If nothing else, Walker seemed likely to make the team as a No. 5 receiver. But the move leaves the Vikings with four receivers on their 53-man roster. For me, it was also a minor surprise that the Vikings apparently will keep cornerback Cedric Griffin on the active roster, rather than place him on the physically unable to perform list. Griffin hasn't practiced since the end of last season because of a knee injury, but he must be close to returning. For now, he counts against their 53-man limit. Finally, the Vikings kept rookie Mickey Shuler among four tight ends. But that could be an attempt to pass him through waivers on a delayed basis for the purposes of getting him on the practice squad.

No-brainers: Kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd didn't have a touchback until the fourth preseason game, and his roster spot was simply too valuable. The only reason to keep a kickoff specialist is if he consistently puts the ball into the end zone. Lloyd didn't do that, and give some credit to the Vikings for eating the $200,000 bonus they gave him this spring. No sense throwing good money after bad. Ryan Longwell isn't the NFL's leading kickoff man, but he is good enough to prevent the Vikings from forcing this issue.

What's next: You have to assume the Vikings will add a cornerback, either through waivers or via trade. Cutting DeAndre Wright and Marcus Sherels leaves the team with three healthy cornerbacks. It's almost mandatory that the Vikings find at least one more. Walker's departure makes you wonder if the Vikings have another receiver targeted, but it's also possible they will keep four until Sidney Rice returns at midseason. Finally, Friday's trade of Darius Reynaud to the New York Giants means the Vikings need to identify a punt returner.

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