NFC North: Robert Francois

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers began this offseason with 17 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

They have re-signed five of them: outside linebacker/defensive end Mike Neal, tight end Andrew Quarless, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, cornerback Sam Shields and running back James Starks.

Four of them signed with other teams: center Evan Dietrich-Smith (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), receiver James Jones (Oakland Raiders), tackle Marshall Newhouse (Cincinnati Bengals) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (Raiders).

That leaves eight still on the market. Here's an update on where things stand the Packers’ remaining free agents:

Kahlil Bell, RB: With Starks back on a two-year, $3.165 million deal, it’s unlikely Bell, a late-season pickup last year, will be re-signed. The Packers already have five halfbacks with NFL experience on the roster -- Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris, Michael Hill and Starks -- plus practice-squad member Orwin Smith.

Jermichael Finley, TE: There's no guarantee Finley will receive medical clearance to resume his career following last season's neck injury. Finley reportedly failed a physical during a free-agent visit to the Seattle Seahawks, and the Packers say they are still monitoring his condition. At this point, Finley's career remains on hold.

Matt Flynn, QB: It's all but a lock that the player who kept last season alive while Aaron Rodgers was sidelined with his broken collarbone will return. Coach Mike McCarthy wants Flynn back and would like to keep three quarterbacks on the roster this season. Expect Flynn to be re-signed soon.

Robert Francois, LB: The special-teams player is coming off a torn Achilles tendon. If healed, he could be re-signed for a minimum contract later in free agency.

Johnny Jolly, DT: Like Finley, Jolly underwent neck fusion surgery. But Jolly's injury was not as severe as Finley’s and the fusion took place lower in his neck, which makes it safer for him to resume his career. McCarthy said he liked how Jolly played last season, so expect the Packers to bring back Jolly at some point.

John Kuhn, FB: The Packers remain in talks with the fan favorite who completed a three-year, $7 million contract last season. Kuhn is a valuable special teams player and has been their best pass protector out of the backfield the past several seasons. But it's not a given he will return. And if he does, it likely will be for less money than he received three years ago.

Ryan Pickett, DT: The plan to move Raji back to nose tackle might make Pickett expendable. Or perhaps his age (34) has already done that. McCarthy was non-committal when asked about Pickett's status last week at the NFL annual meetings.

Seneca Wallace, QB: McCarthy would like to bring four quarterbacks to training camp, but don't expect the 33-year-old Wallace to be one of them. He couldn't stay healthy when the Packers needed him after Rodgers' injury. Instead, they would like to add another young, developmental prospect.

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
6:30
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Exactly three years ago -- on Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, much has happened to the 53 players who were on the roster for that 31-25 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas.

Free agency, injuries, retirement and declining performance cause roster turnover.

Still, it’s eye-opening that from the group that suited up for the Packers’ last championship, only 12 players (just 22.6 percent) remain under contract with the team for 2014. Another 11 are still officially members of the Packers, but have contracts that expire next month. There are 13 players with other NFL teams, and 17 are out of football -- perhaps for good.

Here’s a look at the status of every player who was on the active roster three years ago today at Super Bowl XLV:

Under contract for 2014

  • [+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThree years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Packers.
    QB Aaron Rodgers: Threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to winning the Super Bowl XLV MVP, then won the NFL MVP award the next season. Signed a five-year, $110 million contract extension last April.
  • G Josh Sitton: Started Super Bowl XLV at right guard, but moved to left guard in 2013 and was a second-team, All-Pro selection. Signed a five-year contract extension on Sept. 2, 2011 that averages $6.75 million per season.
  • T Bryan Bulaga: Started at right tackle, but moved to left tackle last offseason. A training camp knee injury ended his 2013 season, and he now enters the final year of his rookie contract.
  • G: T.J. Lang: Served as a backup, but became the starting left guard the next season. Signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 14, 2012 that averages $5.2 million per season. Moved to right guard last season.
  • WR Jordy Nelson: Caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and went on to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons in two of the next three years. Entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
  • OLB Clay Matthews: Forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that the Packers recovered and turned into a touchdown to pad the lead. Four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension last April.
  • LB A.J. Hawk: Started and made seven tackles in the Super Bowl. Was released two months later, only to re-sign a more salary-cap friendly deal. Is under contract through 2015.
  • CB Tramon Williams: Broke up three passes in the Super Bowl, including the one that sealed the game on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 33-yard line in the final minute. Entering the final year of his contract. Scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2014, and could be a candidate to be released or restructured despite a strong finish to last season.
  • K Mason Crosby: Made a 23-yard field goal in the game and signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract on July 29, 2011. Struggled in 2012, but bounced back last year to post his best season.
  • P Tim Masthay: Capped his first season with the Packers by averaging 40.5 yards and allowing the Steelers just 5 yards on punt returns in the game. Signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract extension on July 26, 2012.
  • LS Brett Goode: Has been the long snapper since 2008 and signed a three-year, $2.715 million contract extension on Oct. 13, 2012.
  • CB Jarrett Bush: Special teams player who was pressed into defensive duty in the game after injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the second quarter. Signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 26, 2012.
Headed for free agency next month

  • RB James Starks: Started the Super Bowl and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Battled injuries most of his career, and might not be re-signed.
  • WR James Jones: Caught five passes for 50 yards in the game, and signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract on Aug. 2, 2011. Caught 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards in 2013, and could be a re-signed despite his age (will turn 30 next month).
  • DT Ryan Pickett: Started the game, made two tackles and was in on the play in which Matthews forced Rashard Mendehall's fourth-quarter fumble. Played in all 16 games last season with a base salary of $5.4 million, but might be at the age (34) where the Packers let him walk.
  • DT B.J. Raji: Capped a strong 2010 postseason with a pair of tackles in the game. Finished his rookie contract in 2013, and reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer last season.
  • DE C.J. Wilson: Started the game, but played only 14 snaps. Biggest impact came the night before the game, when he kept things loose in the team hotel by playing piano and leading a team sign-along. Finished his rookie contract in 2013.
  • FB John Kuhn: Played on both offense and special teams in the game. Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract on Aug. 1, 2011.
  • CB Sam Shields: Suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game. Had his best season in 2013 while playing under the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million. Will command a big contract either from the Packers or another team in free agency.
  • LB Robert Francois: Went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster throughout the 2010 season, and played on special teams in the game. Played last season under a one-year, $725,000 deal, but tore his Achilles tendon on Oct. 6.
  • TE Andrew Quarless: Caught one pass for 5 yards in the game. Suffered a major knee injury the next season and missed all of 2012. Returned last season to catch 32 passes for 312 yards (both career highs) in the final year of his rookie deal.
  • QB Matt Flynn: Served as Rodgers’ backup but did not play in the Super Bowl. Left after the 2011 season as a free agent, and after stints with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, he returned to the Packers last season for a one-year minimum deal and played in five games after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was inactive for the Super Bowl. Became a starter late in 2012 and for all of 2013, when he played under the restricted free agent tender of $1.323 million deal.
With other teams

  • [+] EnlargeMcCarthy
    Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike McCarthy and the Packers have seen a lot of roster turnover since winning Super Bowl XLV.
    WR Greg Jennings: Started and became just the third player in team history to catch multiple touchdowns in a Super Bowl by recording touchdowns of 21 and 8 yards. Signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings last March.
  • G Daryn Colledge: Started at left guard, but left in free agency a few months later to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Cardinals. Has started every game for the Cardinals since.
  • C Scott Wells: Started at center and remained with the Packers through the 2011 season before signing a four-year, $24 million contract with the Rams. Has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
  • LB Desmond Bishop: Became a starter earlier in 2010 after Nick Barnett's wrist injury and made nine tackles in the Super Bowl. Also recovered the fumble that Matthews forced. Signed a four-year, $19 million contract in 2011, but was released after missing the entire 2012 season because of a hamstring injury. Signed with the Vikings last offseason, but appeared in only four games.
  • OLB Frank Zombo: Started the game and had the Packers’ only sack of Roethlisberger but battled injuries the next two years and was released. Signed with the Chiefs last year and appeared in all 16 games.
  • CB Charles Woodson: Started at cornerback, but broke his collarbone late in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Played two more seasons with the Packers, who released him last year. Returned to his old team, the Raiders, and played in all 16 games last season.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins: Played 36 snaps and had a pair of quarterback pressures. Left in free agency the following year and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles, who released him after two years. Signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Giants last season.
  • TE Tom Crabtree: Played on both offense and special teams in the Super Bowl, catching one pass. Left last year to sign with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, but was limited to seven games because of injuries.
  • CB Josh Gordy: Was inactive for the game, and the next season was signed off the practice squad the by the Rams. Spent the past two seasons with the Colts.
  • G Nick McDonald: Was inactive for the game, like he was for every game that season. Was released in training camp the next year, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the Patriots. Did not play in 2013, but was recently signed by the Chargers.
  • OLB Erik Walden: Was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game. Played the next two seasons before signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Colts last year.
  • DE: Jarius Wynn: Was active but did not play. Played in Green Bay through 2011, and with the Titans and Chargers before landing with the Cowboys last season.
  • FB Quinn Johnson: Inactive for the game. Was traded to the Titans in 2011. Has played in 24 games for the Titans over the past three years.
Out of football

  • T Chad Clifton: Started at left tackle, but his long career with the Packers ended when they released him after he played in only six games in 2011. Was never signed by another team.
  • WR Donald Driver: Started the game and caught two passes for 28 yards before leaving with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Retired after the 2012 season as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
  • S Nick Collins: Started and made a key early play when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of 2011 and hasn’t played since.
  • DT Howard Green: Claimed off waivers earlier that season and started the game. His hit on Roethlisberger led to Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. Returned in 2011 and played in all 16 games, but has not played since.
  • WR Brett Swain: Posted a team-high four special teams tackles. Was released the following season and played briefly with the 49ers. Was cut in training camp last season by the Seahawks.
  • S Atari Bigby: Played on special teams. Signed with the Seahawks the following season and played in 15 games. Played in eight games with the Chargers in 2012, but did not play in 2013.
  • CB Pat Lee: Special teams player who saw action on defense after injuries to Woodson and Shields. Played one more season in Green Bay before splitting time in 2012 between the Lions and Raiders. Did not play in 2013.
  • RB Brandon Jackson: Played as the third-down back, but did not have any carries in the game. Caught one pass for 14 yards. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Browns in 2011, but missed all of that season and played in only two games in 2012.
  • FB Korey Hall: Caught one pass for 2 yards and made one special teams tackle in the game. He played in 13 games with the Saints in 2011, and retired after going to camp with the Cardinals in 2012.
  • S Charlie Peprah: Led the Packers with 10 tackles (including nine solo stops). Returned as a starter in 2011, when he had five interceptions, but was released shortly before training camp in 2012. Played in five games for the Cowboys in 2012.
  • LB Diyral Briggs: Made one special teams tackle in the game, but never played in another NFL game.
  • LB Matt Wilhelm: Made two special teams tackles, but seven-year career ended after that game.
  • G Jason Spitz: Played on special teams. Left in free agency the next year and signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract with the Jaguars, who released him in training camp last summer. He signed with the Seahawks, but was released on Oct. 12.
  • TE Donald Lee: Played in the game, but did not have a catch and was released two months later. Played in nine games for the Bengals in 2001.
  • QB Graham Harrell: Inactive for the game. Remained with the Packers until he was released in training camp last summer. Also spent time briefly with the Jets before being released.
  • RB Dimitri Nance: Inactive for the game. Was released by the Packers the following summer and never played in another NFL game.
  • CB Brandon Underwood: Inactive for the game. Was released in 2011. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2012 and Cowboys in 2013, but did not make either team.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers will start two backup linebackers on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

With all the focus on the loss of starting outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who underwent surgery Monday on his broken right thumb and will miss “multiple weeks,” according to coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers also were forced to deal with another hamstring injury to starting inside linebacker Brad Jones.

Jones
The Packers ruled out Jones for Sunday’s game. Third-year pro Jamari Lattimore, a college defensive end who made the Packers as an undrafted free agent and outside linebacker, will make his first career start. He and Jones both moved from outside linebacker to the inside position before the 2012 season.

Lattimore was actually third on the depth chart last week but played 16 snaps in Sunday’s win over the Detroit Lions after Jones went down and his replacement, Robert Francois, sustained a season-ending torn Achilles tendon.

Jones, who was slowed by a hamstring injury during training camp, pulled the hamstring in his other leg against the Lions.

“I have no reason to believe it’s going to be very long based on the discussions [Tuesday] with our medical staff,” McCarthy said. “He will not be available this week, and hopefully we feel better about it next week.”

The Packers had only three outside linebackers available for Wednesday’s practice. In addition to Matthews, they also were without Andy Mulumba (ankle), who played 17 snaps against the Lions. Mike Neal and Nick Perry will start at the two outside spots against the Ravens.

Cornerback Casey Hayward, who appeared close to returning last week from a hamstring injury that has kept him out all season, may try to practice on Thursday, McCarthy said.

“He’s getting better; a little sore after what he went through last week,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see where he is tomorrow. This time last week, he was able to do some individual work on Thursday. So that's the hope.”

Here’s the full injury report:
  • CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring, did not practice)
  • CB Casey Hayward (hamstring, did not practice)
  • LB Brad Jones (hamstring, out)
  • OLB Clay Matthews (thumb, out)
  • OLB Andy Mulumba (ankle, did not practice)
  • RB James Starks (knee, out)
  • OL Greg Van Roten (foot, out)

Locker Room Buzz: Green Bay Packers

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
5:40
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Observed in the locker room following the Green Bay Packers' 22-9 victory over the Detroit Lions:

Crosby
Crowd around Crosby: Last year when there was a crowd around kicker Mason Crosby’s locker, it usually meant he was being grilled about another shaky performance. On Sunday, it was all smiles after Crosby tied a team record with five field goals against the Lions. Crosby, who made a league-low 63.6 percent of his field goal attempts last season, is 9-for-9 this season. “It feels great,” Crosby said. “It’s just the beginning.”

Lacy’s lament: Across the locker room, rookie running back Eddie Lacy lamented coming up 1 yard short of a 100-yard day. He would have been the third different Packers running back to rush for 100 yards in as many games following James Starks' 132-yard performance in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins and Johnathan Franklin's 103-yard game in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals. “I knew I was close,” Lacy said. “I was trying to get it.” Lacy finished with 99 yards on 23 carries.

On crutches: Robert Francois was in no mood to talk as he hobbled through the locker room on crutches and with a boot on his right foot. The backup linebacker, who filled in after Brad Jones left with a hamstring injury, tore his Achilles tendon and is done for the season.

Quotable: On the way to his postgame news conference, coach Mike McCarthy passed a group of reporters heading into the locker room to speak with the players. Said McCarthy, who isn’t known for being overly interesting at the podium: “You’re going to miss all the good stuff.”

Reviewing the roster projections

September, 1, 2013
9/01/13
8:30
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Playing NFL general manager isn’t easy.

I tried to do it twice this preseason by predicting the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster, first on Aug. 22 and then again on Friday, the eve of the final cuts.

In the first go-around, I actually had outside linebacker Andy Mulumba and guard Lane Taylor on the 53, only to remove them on Friday. Of course, both made the team.

In the end, my final roster prediction had 49 of the 53 players that general manager Ted Thompson kept. Here’s a look at my predictions compared with the actual roster:

Quarterbacks

Prediction (2): Aaron Rodgers, Vince Young

Actual (2): Aaron Rodgers, B.J. Coleman

Running backs

Prediction (5): Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green, James Starks, John Kuhn

Actual (4): Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, James Starks, John Kuhn

Receivers

Prediction (5): Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross

Actual (5): Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross

Tight ends

Prediction (4): Jermichael Finley, Matthew Mulligan, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick

Actual (4): Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick

Offensive line

Prediction (7): David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse, Greg Van Roten

Actual (8): David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse, Greg Van Roten, Lane Taylor

Defensive line

Prediction (7): Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Johnny Jolly, Josh Boyd

Actual (7): Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Johnny Jolly, Josh Boyd

Linebackers

Prediction (10): A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Terrell Manning, Mike Neal, Nate Palmer

Actual (10): A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Andy Mulumba, Mike Neal, Nate Palmer

Defensive backs

Prediction (10): Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chris Banjo

Actual (10): Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chris Banjo

Specialists

Prediction (3): Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

Actual (3): Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Following the Green Bay Packers' cuts on Saturday, here’s a position-by-position look at their roster.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t necessarily the roster they will take to San Francisco for the season opener Sept. 8. There are likely to be changes, perhaps as early as Sunday, when waiver claims go through the NFL’s transaction system.

Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers, B.J. Coleman

Running backs (4): Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, James Starks, John Kuhn

Receivers (5): Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross

Tight ends (4): Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick

Offensive line (8): David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse, Greg Van Roten, Lane Taylor

Defensive line (8): Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Mike Neal, Johnny Jolly, Josh Boyd

Linebackers (9): Brad Jones, A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer

Defensive backs (10): Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chris Banjo

Specialists (3): Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

Roster notes: Eight of the 11 draft picks made the final cuts. The only ones who did not were offensive lineman J.C. Tretter (fourth-round pick who is on the physically unable to perform list because of an ankle injury) and seventh-round receivers Kevin Dorsey (waived/injured) and Charles Johnson. … Fifteen players who were not on the active roster at any point last season made the final cut. In addition to the eight draft picks who made it (Datone Jones, Lacy, Bakhtiari, Franklin, Hyde, Boyd, Palmer and Barrington), the others who were not on the active roster last season were Banjo, Bostick, Coleman, Jolly, Mulumba, Quarless and Lane Taylor.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – In the past 24 hours, the Green Bay Packers worked out “Kickalicious” (a.k.a Havard Rugland, the Norwegian-born placekicker made famous by a YouTube video) and made plans to bring in running back/kick returner Joe McKnight for a look-see.

If nothing else, it tells you the Packers’ 53-man roster might not be set even though final cuts are due by 6 p.m. ET.

There’s bound to be a player or three who winds up on the Packers’ roster who wasn’t with them in training camp. It could be a free-agent signing, a trade or a waiver claim.

But for the sake of this exercise, which was first attempted nine days ago, let’s assume general manager Ted Thompson keeps 53 of his own players. Here’s the final projection for how the roster will look after the final cuts are made (note the changes from the Aug. 22 version of this projection):

Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers, Vince Young

Moved in: None

Moved out: None

Analysis: No change from the Aug. 22 version, other than in the interim the Packers cut Graham Harrell. B.J. Coleman needs another year on the practice squad and likely will get it if he clears waivers.

Running backs (5): Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green, James Starks, John Kuhn

Moved in: Starks

Moved out: DuJuan Harris

Analysis: The loss of Harris to a season-ending knee injury will force coach Mike McCarthy to alter his plans for the running game. He was hoping Lacy and Harris would provide a one-two punch.

Receivers (5): Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross

Moved in: Ross

Moved out: Tyrone Walker

Analysis: With Cobb and Nelson finally healthy, there’s probably no need for a sixth receiver. Ross showed enough in the final week that he could be serviceable as the fifth receiver, if necessary, and he’s too valuable as a return specialist to let him go. Walker’s best shot is if they keep six at this position.

Tight ends (4): Jermichael Finley, Ryan Taylor, Matthew Mulligan, Brandon Bostick

Moved in: Mulligan

Moved out: Jake Stoneburner

Analysis: Mulligan has returned from his elbow injury and is the kind of blocker the Packers need to help their running game. Stoneburner’s fumble near the goal line against Seattle on Aug. 23 hurt his chances. He’s a strong practice-squad candidate. Veterans Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams appear to be in trouble.

Offensive line (7): David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse, Greg Van Roten

Moved in: None

Moved out: Lane Taylor

Analysis: The Packers got by with seven offensive linemen to start last season, and Taylor now looks like someone they can sneak through to the practice squad.

Defensive line (7): Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Johnny Jolly, Josh Boyd

Moved in: Boyd

Moved out: None

Analysis: Thompson doesn’t easily part with draft picks, and Boyd (a fifth-rounder) has shown steady improvement in the preseason.

[+] EnlargeNate Palmer
AP Photo/Reed HoffmannSolid showings in the final two preseason games might have secured Nate Palmer a spot on the Packers' roster.
Linebackers (10): A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Terrell Manning, Mike Neal, Nate Palmer

Moved in: Palmer

Moved out: Andy Mulumba

Analysis: Palmer has had a sack in each of the last two preseason games and, like Boyd, he’s a draft pick. Again, I’m counting Neal as an outside linebacker rather than a defensive end.

Defensive backs (10): Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chris Banjo

Moved in: None

Moved out: None

Analysis: Banjo solidified the final safety spot with another strong performance in the preseason finale.

Specialists (3): Mason Crosby (kicker), Tim Masthay (punter), Brett Goode (long snapper)

Moved in: None

Moved out: None

Analysis: Crosby’s restructured contract gives the Packers flexibility if they need to make a mid-season change, but if Crosby continues to kick like he has of late, that won’t be necessary.

Packers' 53-man roster projection

August, 22, 2013
8/22/13
4:50
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have two preseason games and three training camp practices left to evaluate their roster before final cuts are due on Aug. 31.

Here’s a position-by-position projection of how the 53-man roster would look if the final cuts were made today. It is based on camp-long conversations with coaches and NFL scouts and could easily change in the next nine days.

[+] EnlargeVince Young
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesVince Young could be tabbed to be Aaron Rodgers' backup.
Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers, Vince Young

Analysis: Keeping three quarterbacks is unlikely, so the Packers have to decide between Young and Graham Harrell. There’s a growing sense within the organization that they need a better backup than Harrell. Young might not have a firm grasp of the offense for several more weeks or even months, but it’s a risk they may be willing to take.

Running backs (5): DuJuan Harris, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green, John Kuhn

Analysis: James Starks looks like the odd man out. He plummeted down the depth chart after his fumble on Saturday at St. Louis. The Packers could see if there’s any possibility of trading Starks or Green, but they haven’t received any offers yet. Kuhn still has value as the lone fullback because of his blocking, leadership and special teams contributions.

Receivers (5): Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Tyrone Walker

Analysis: Given the injuries to Cobb (biceps) and Nelson (knee), they may have to consider keeping a sixth receiver. That could bring Jeremy Ross, Kevin Dorsey or Charles Johnson back into play. But for now, the undrafted rookie Walker has the edge for the final spot. The Packers had hoped Ross would show more as a receiver so that they could also make him their kick returner. Rookies Dorsey and Johnson, both seventh-round picks, missed so much time because of injuries that there’s not enough information to go on. At this point, they look like practice-squad candidates if they clear waivers.

Tight ends (4): Jermichael Finley, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick, Jake Stoneburner

Analysis: This is perhaps the most muddled position after the starter, Finley. There’s no clear-cut No. 2. Taylor is on most of the top special teams units but so is D.J. Williams. The problem with Williams is his inconsistency. He practices well but doesn’t carry it over to the games. Bostick may have the most upside because at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, he’s built like Finley. Stoneburner, an undrafted rookie, has made a strong impression of late. Veteran Andrew Quarless can’t stay healthy and hasn’t played in nearly two years. Meanwhile, veteran free agent Matthew Mulligan, another blocking tight end with special teams ability, has an elbow injury that may have derailed his chances.

Offensive line (8): David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse, Greg Van Roten, Lane Taylor

Analysis: Last year, the Packers kept only seven but would prefer to keep eight. If Barclay holds on to the starting right tackle job, Newhouse would be the swing tackle. Van Roten can back up all three interior positions and has even played a little tackle. Taylor, an undrafted rookie, has impressed at guard. Derek Sherrod (leg) and JC Tretter (ankle) will likely start the season on PUP, while Bryan Bulaga (knee) will go on IR.

Defensive line (6): Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Johnny Jolly

Analysis: Despite coach Mike McCarthy’s insistence that Mike Neal is a defensive end, he’s going to count as an outside linebacker, where he has seen more practice time. Jolly has been impressive in short stints and has overcome long odds after missing the last three seasons because of a suspension. If the Packers keep a seventh defensive lineman, it will be rookie fifth-rounder Josh Boyd, who is big and athletic but might not be ready to play right away. Jerel Worthy (knee) will likely start the season on PUP.

Linebackers (10): A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Terrell Manning, Mike Neal, Andy Mulumba

Analysis: The inside spots are fairly clear cut behind the starters, Hawk and Jones. Francois, Lattimore, Barrington and Manning will play on special teams. Behind Matthews and Perry on the outside, Neal might be the next-best option. Mulumba, an undrafted rookie, has shown more than sixth-round pick Nate Palmer or second-year pro Dezman Moses. However, Mulumba’s knee injury this week could slow him down.

Defensive backs (10): Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chris Banjo

Analysis: There’s concern that Williams’ knee injury may prevent him from being ready for the opener, so that could force the Packers to keep another cornerback, likely Loyce Means or James Nixon. Banjo, who was signed off the street on July 29, has a hold on the No. 4 safety position but that could be a spot that’s addressed via the waiver wire. Hyde also could be the punt returner.

Specialists (3): Brett Goode (long snapper), Tim Masthay (punter), Mason Crosby (kicker).

Analysis: Crosby's spot is most tenuous. He could ease some of the concerns about him if he makes a few long field goals on Friday against Seattle. Those concerns were heightened on Wednesday, when he missed three straight kicks from 42, 42 and 44 yards in practice. His competitor, Giorgio Tavecchio, didn’t do himself any favors by missing a 49-yarder at St. Louis on Saturday. Whereas Crosby is a power kicker, Tavecchio is a form kicker. If the Packers went with Tavecchio, they would be sacrificing distance. The Packers reached out to former Miami Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter, who decided he had a better chance to win the job in Arizona, so it’s possible their opening-day kicker isn’t currently on the roster.
The pace is starting to accelerate as free agency draws closer, so let's touch on a few developments before heading off into our SportsNation chat.

The Minnesota Vikings re-signed receiver Jerome Simpson to a one-year contract, giving him a second chance after a disappointing season in 2011, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. He caught 26 passes for a 10.3-yard average and no touchdowns in 12 games, all while battling a murky back injury of uncertain severity.

With that said, the Vikings have no choice but to be in receiver collection mode after trading Percy Harvin on Monday. By default, Simpson is the most established receiver on the Vikings' roster. I expect the team to continue in this mode throughout the offseason as it attempts to assemble a functional and reasonably deep group on the fly.

According to multiple reports, beginning I believe with Mike Garafolo of USA Today, Detroit Lions place-kicker Jason Hanson decided this week to return for another season. There have been no contract negotiations of yet, but the guess is the Lions want Hanson back as well.

The Green Bay Packers issued a second-round tender to cornerback Sam Shields and a low tender to center Evan Dietrich-Smith, as we noted earlier. But they won't make offers to three other restricted free agents: tight end Tom Crabtree and linebackers Robert Francois and Frank Zombo, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. It's possible all three players could re-sign for deals less than the lowest tender value, which is $1.323 million, but for now they'll be able to test the market.

Finally, for now, I would suggest that perhaps the biggest slam dunk of free agency is the widespread notion that the Lions are the top candidate to sign running back Reggie Bush. There is every possibility that a team could jump out after the deadline and trump the Lions, but as of the moment I feel relatively confident that a deal will be worked out.

Before you ask, I'm not certain how the Lions will account for Bush from a salary-cap perspective. But the widespread speculation about the obvious connection between the sides is legitimate.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers had only one injured player to monitor this week, promising more healthy scratches than usual for Sunday's divisional game against the New York Giants. In addition to injured linebacker Robert Francois, here is who the Packers deactivated Sunday afternoon:
One notable starting lineup change: As expected, the Packers will start Brad Jones at the right outside linebacker position that was manned all season by Erik Walden.

Giants-Packers: Final injury report

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
3:10
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We'll make this as easy as we can: Of the 106 players on the combined active rosters of the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers, only two are unlikely to be available for Sunday's divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.

The Giants have ruled out linebacker Mark Herlzich, who is sidelined by an ankle injury. And Packers linebacker Robert Francois is doubtful because of a hamstring injury that prevented him from practicing Friday.

Everyone else is probable or unlisted on the final injury report of the week. That includes Packers left tackle Chad Clifton, who took a veteran rest day Friday, and offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith (illness). Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) returned to practice Friday and is probable.

Is it game time yet?
A quick look at the second-to-last injury report of the week:

New York Giants: Two players were added to the report: Cornerback Corey Webster (hamstring) and safety Deon Grant (quadriceps). Both were limited Thursday in practice. Running back D.J. Ware (concussion) returned to practice. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot/back) and linebacker Mark Herzlich (ankle) both sat out for a second consecutive day.

Green Bay Packers: All but two players were full participants in a practice held indoors because of snow and wind. Receiver/kick returner Randall Cobb (groin) and linebacker Robert Francois (hamstring) were limited.
Some newsbits and random thoughts as the Green Bay Packers began practicing in earnest for Sunday's divisional playoff game against the New York Giants:

As we've been discussing for the past few days, the death of Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's son has hit the franchise hard. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke slowly and in tones hardly recognizable during the beginning of his Tuesday radio show, and on Wednesday coach Mike McCarthy, teared up and paused several seconds to collect himself while discussing the death of Michael Philbin.

Here's part of what McCarthy said, transcribed from a video available on the Packers' web site:

"Everybody's feeling it. There's no question on what level. That's really for the individual to speak on. But professionally, I've been very pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish. We had a very productive day Monday, obviously with everything going on on Monday. And today, just a ton of energy. Clearly from a tempo standpoint, the execution is probably one of our finer Wednesday practices.

"And I think the reality of this just gave everybody a punch in the heart to let you know the reality ... how fortunate we are to be where we are."

Joe Philbin spent Wednesday with his family and McCarthy said he had not spoken to him about a return date. McCarthy had originally planned to assume Philbin's weekly duties but has since spread them around to the rest of his offensive staff.

McCarthy's message to the team Wednesday, he said, was about "the ability to separate." Obviously, that's easier said than done.

Michael Philbin's funeral is scheduled for Friday. Rodgers told reporters Wednesday that "a bunch" of people from the organization are hoping to attend the funeral, but in another sign of how impactful this episode has been, Rodgers said he has never attended a funeral.

All 53 players on the Packers' active roster practiced Wednesday. Technically, left tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring/back), receiver Randall Cobb (groin) and linebacker Robert Francois (hamstring) were limited. But McCarthy said even the limited players were close to full participation.

The Giants are in decent health. Cornerback Aaron Ross, who suffered a concussion Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, was cleared to practice. But running back D.J. Ware has not been cleared from his concussion and sat out practice. So did linebacker Mark Herzlich (ankle) and running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot/back). But Bradshaw typically sits out at least one practice a week and is expected to play Sunday.

Free Head Exam: Green Bay Packers

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
11:00
AM ET
After the Green Bay Packers' 46-16 victory over the Oakland Raiders, here are three issues that merit further examination:
Head Exam
Kevin SeifertFollowing their big win against the Raiders, the Packers take a seat in the examination room.

  1. There isn't a single active NFL player with a medical degree, but they see injuries of various degrees every day. They can read body language and see between the lines better than us. So for what it's worth, Packers players didn't like what they saw when receiver Greg Jennings needed help getting off the field in the third quarter after suffering what to this point is being called a sprained left knee. "It didn't look very good," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. Added defensive lineman B.J. Raji: "I saw the degree of anguish he was in. Anytime a grown man is being carried by his teammates, that's never a good sign." We should get more information later Monday, but for now the Packers are hoping the injury is something Jennings can return from when they open the playoffs in five weeks.
  2. The Packers' plan for inside linebacker A.J. Hawk was to play him for no more than 30 snaps in the second half as a preliminary step in returning to full-time duty after suffering a calf injury last month. Given the game situation, McCarthy scrapped the plan and decided to give Hawk another weekend to recover. McCarthy indicated Hawk will return to his full-time role Wednesday during practice. There doesn't appear to be any indication that Hawk or fellow starter Desmond Bishop (calf) could lose playing time to replacements Robert Francois and D.J. Smith, both of whom have played well. Francois had nine tackles and his second interception in the past three weeks Sunday, while Smith had 10 tackles Sunday. Bishop is hoping to return to practice this week.
  3. The Packers are entering a critical week for their offensive line. It's clear they're not totally thrilled with Marshall Newhouse's performance at left tackle, and that's what led to the decision to rotate him Sunday with rookie Derek Sherrod. Veteran Chad Clifton hasn't played in two months because of hamstring and back injuries, but the Packers think he'll be ready to practice this week. So what should the Packers do now, and what should their playoff approach be? Should they get Clifton back in there, hoping his conditioning allows him to play full games? Should they stick with a Newhouse-Sherrod rotation and use Clifton only in an emergency? I can't imagine the Packers turning to Sherrod, a rookie left tackle, with the playoffs looming. I'm guessing if Newhouse had played better in the past few weeks, these questions wouldn't be necessary.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
If Jennings misses extended time, I wonder if tight end Jermichael Finley can be counted on to be the top playmaker in the offense. Without Jennings to account for, it's possible that defenses will focus in on Finley as their top priority. But receiver Jordy Nelson has made opponents pay all season for single coverage, and he now has 10 touchdowns in 13 games. Perhaps he will see more attention if Jennings is sidelined. Regardless, Finley has been relatively quiet and not entirely reliable over the past month. He did not catch a pass Sunday against the Raiders and has nine receptions in the last four games, six of which came in Week 12 against the New York Giants. Finley is also nearing double digits in dropped passes, depending on whose statistics you look at. But he'll have every opportunity to carry the passing game in the coming weeks.

A.J. Hawk active but didn't start

December, 11, 2011
12/11/11
4:36
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Hi everyone. That was some start to Week 14 here in the NFC North, huh?

A reminder and an update:
  • I'll be spending most of the afternoon/early evening over in our NFL Countdown Live chat. Please join me.
  • Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk (calf) is active for this game, but to this point the Packers are using D.J. Smith and Robert Francois as their inside linebackers.

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