Packers Notes: Starters, Injuries, and Cuts
Packers general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy have some difficult decisions ahead of them. In the next two weeks, the duo will have to pare down an 80-man roster to 75 players by August 31 and to 53 by September 4.
Of those 53 players, McCarthy and his staff will have to determine his starters on offense, defense and special teams. Following Sunday’s practice, McCarthy cleared up any doubt over who would be starting at left guard when the Packers open up the regular season against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 12.
“Daryn Colledge will be our left guard in Philadelphia,” McCarthy told reporters.
Bryan Bulaga, the team’s first-round draft choice out of Iowa, pushed Colledge for playing time until he was slowed by a hip flexor injury.
Bulaga is not the only Packers player hampered by injury. The defense continues to practice without outside linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring), defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), defensive back Will Blackmon (knee), cornerback Brandon Underwood (shoulder), linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring), and defensive end Jarius Wynn (concussion). Add in safety Atari Bigby (ankle), and cornerback Al Harris (knee), who remain on the PUP list, and the No. 2-ranked defense from last season is missing a lot of key players.
McCarthy updated reporters on the status of cornerback Al Harris, who was still unable to pass a physical last week.
“He’s getting close,” McCarthy replied when asked about Al Harris. “I haven’t ruled him out to making our 53-man roster.”
McCarthy added that he was “confident” Matthews would be ready for the season opener.
In terms of injuries, the offense is in much better shape than the defense. They lost running back Quinn Porter to a “significant knee strain” in Thursday’s preseason game, and running back James Starks remains on the PUP list with a hamstring injury. Aside from the backfield, and the aforementioned Bryan Bulaga (hip flexor), the Packers’ offense is relatively injury-free.
The Packers will begin to make roster decisions as Tuesday’s cutdown deadline looms. Getting an early start on the process, the Packers released free agent wide receiver Shawn Gore on Saturday. The Packers will be forced to decide the fate of four more players by Tuesday. The team may choose to release four more players or end their seasons by placing them on injured reserve. A third option exists for the three players on the PUP list: Atari Bigby, Al Harris, and James Starks. Since they began training camp on the active PUP list they are eligible to be begin the regular season on the reserve PUP list. This designation would allow them to return to the field after the first 6 weeks of the season.