Cut week has finally arrived.
The Green Bay Packers wrapped up their 12th and final training camp practice on Saturday with a live scrimmage at Lambeau Field and will now spend the rest of their lead-up to the 2020 season preparing for their Week 1 matchup at the Minnesota Vikings. But before kickoff, the Packers must also decide which 27 players will not be joining them on their initial 53-man roster with the mandatory cutdown deadline set for 3 p.m. CT this Saturday.
Here’s a projection of how the Packers’ active roster could look to begin 2020:
Quarterbacks (3): Aaron Rodgers, Tim Boyle, Jordan Love
Rodgers looked crisp and in command of the offense during his 18th NFL training camp, not that his starting role was ever in any sort of doubt for 2020. There was some curiosity about whether Love would surprise during his first camp and seize the primary backup spot, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed his progression when it wiped out all on-field offseason workouts. Boyle has also been consistently good all throughout camp, clearly defining the QB hierarchy.
QB totals (unofficially) from Sunday’s scrimmage:
Aaron Rodgers: 25-of-31 for 192 yards, one touchdown.
Tim Boyle: 6-11, 120 yards, two touchdowns.
Jordan Love: 8-14, 98 yards, one touchdown. https://t.co/dD97oKCks0
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) August 30, 2020
Running Backs (4): Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Jamaal Williams, Tyler Ervin
The Packers added more power to their rushing stable when they acquired Dillon with their second-round pick in 2020, but Jones is still the top guy after a breakout season last year and something to prove with free agency looming next March. As the team’s return specialist, Ervin is also a lock for the roster with the potential to contribute as both a rusher and receiver. The biggest question is how Williams — also set to become a free agent in 2021 — will now fit into the equation with the room stacked.
— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) August 18, 2020
Tight Ends (4): Jace Sternberger, Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara
Sternberger has been considered the top option for replacing Jimmy Graham as the starter and would seem to still have the advantage, but the 2019 third-round pick has been quieter than hoped in his second training camp after spending the first several practices on the COVID-19 reserve list. Matt LaFleur made it clear midway through camp that Tonyan was very much still in the running to be TE1, so don’t be surprised if the top two fluctuate.
I’ve been apprehensive about Sternberger for months. He was raw coming out of college, didn’t show much as a rookie and had no offseason to improve. Can’t say I’m all the surprised he’s struggling. https://t.co/VL4sVpQocY
— Michael Rodney (@PackersNotes) August 30, 2020
Wide Receivers (6): Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Jake Kumerow, Reggie Begelton
The Packers’ receiving room is far more certain at the front end, even though the depth chart could shuffle throughout the first few games of the season. Lazard, MVS and St. Brown became much stronger looks for the roster when Devin Funchess opted out, and things are still looking good for Kumerow with his in-system knowledge working to his benefit. The back spots are where things get tricky, as Begelton — and maybe even Kumerow — could be swapped for others like Darrius Shepherd or ex-Seahawk Malik Turner.
WR coach Jason Vrable on Marquez Valdes-Scantling: "I texted him and we were talking, I'd say the last three days – and I've been with him for a year now – were the best practices I've seen out of him." #Packers
— Wes Hodkiewicz (@WesHod) August 26, 2020
Offensive linemen (9): David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Corey Linsley, Billy Turner, Lane Taylor, Rick Wagner, Lucas Patrick, Alex Light, Jon Runyan
Seven spots would appear to be absolute. Bakhtiari, Jenkins and Linsley are all established, while the three-way competition on the right side between Turner, Taylor and Wagner can only yield a valuable backup lineman for the Packers. Then there’s Lucas Patrick, who signed a contract extension last season and is also in line for a meaningful depth role. The final two spots come down to an experience option at swing tackle (Light) and their best performing rookie (Runyan) through training camp.
Jon Runyan has come as advertised, gritty dude. Willing to get his hands dirty. Had some nice showings in 1 on 1s #Packers
— Wes Hodkiewicz (@WesHod) August 23, 2020
Defensive linemen (5): Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Tyler Lancaster, Montravius Adams
The Packers have demonstrated their confidence in Lowry, Keke and Lancaster to get the job done around Clark, their star, for the 2020 season, but there are still questions about the fifth lineman in their rotation. Adams, a 2017 third-round pick, would appear to be on his last straw with the Packers after a miserable 2019 season, an offseason arrest and an injury earlier this month that has left him sidelined ever since. His saving grace would seem to be that Trevyon Hester — the team’s lone free-agent signing at the position — also did not participate in the final stretch of practices. Better to trust the player you know.
Tyler Lancaster had a sack on Aaron Rodgers today. I thought it was a sack, although not sure it was called that way on field. Lancaster said it was definitely a sack. Even told Rodgers that when QB asked him on sideline. Lancaster said he prioritized quick twitch this offseason.
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 30, 2020
Outside Linebackers (4): Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Rashan Gary, Jonathan Garvin
Fans were disappointed with Gary’s rookie season after the Packers’ top draft pick took a backseat role to the newcomer Smith Bros., but the 2019 first-rounder has looked fierce and purposeful throughout his second camp. The Packers want to feature him more heavily in their rotation with the Smiths in 2020 and have even teased putting all three of them on the field at the same, which makes for a frightening pass rush alongside Clark at nose tackle. The fourth spot seemed up for grabs until Garvin, a 2020 seventh-round pick, began to distinguish himself from the pack toward the end of camp.
Jonathan Garvin’s final 2 years at the U:
🔘97 tackles w/ 26 TFLs
🔘10.5 sacks, 33 hurries, 12 hits
🔘43 run stops
🔘Just turned 21 years old
“Rashan is going to have a big part, a big role in what we’re doing, as well as Garvin.” – Mike Pettine
— Paul Bretl (@Paul_Bretl) August 29, 2020
Inside Linebackers (4): Christian Kirksey, Kamal Martin, Oren Burks, Ty Summers
While nothing can be certain until the games begin, Kirksey is starting to look like a real steal for the Packers as the new quarterback of their defense. Burks came back in excellent shape for his third NFL season after a pectoral injury derailed him in 2019, but Martin, a fifth-round rookie, seems to have outperformed him through their 12 training camp practices. Constant competition between them and Summers, a special teams asset, can only be healthy for the Packers when it comes to improving the middle of their defense.
The injuries to Christian Kirksey are obviously what allowed Green Bay to get him for cheap. But they also have limited the wear and tear on his body. He’s only 27 and he looks fantastic and in the prime of his career. He’s been all over the field all camp long.
— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) August 30, 2020
Cornerbacks (6): Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Chandon Sullivan, Josh Jackson, Stanford Samuels, Ka’dar Hollman
There are no questions about the Packers’ top three cornerbacks in 2020, but the rest of the position group could stack any which way. Jackson, a 2018 second-round pick, saw his role sharply decline last season and struggled quite a bit in the Packers’ live scrimmage while an undrafted rookie, Samuels, has continued to shine. Keeping six corners not only gives the Packers an experienced safety net but also allows them to keep developing talent at a position that could lose King to free agency next offseason.
Stanford Samuels with another pick off a deflection. Dropped a gimme earlier. #Packers
— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) August 25, 2020
Safeties (5): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage Jr., Raven Greene, Vernon Scott, Will Redmond
Amos and Savage are two peas in a pod for the Packers. Nothing new about that. Greene will presumably return to his dime linebacker role for the defense, but the Packers have also added a second choice in Scott, a 2020 seventh-round pick who has impressed in camp. They could potentially do without Redmond if they feel confident in Greene and Scott as backups, but keeping him around retains system experience and depth for the secondary.
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 30, 2020
Specialists (3): Mason Crosby, JK Scott, Hunter Bradley
No position group is clearer cut than the specialists. The Packers made Crosby their first re-signed free agent of the offseason, and the veteran kicker looked as strong as ever throughout camp — with the exception of one errant practice. There is room for improvement for both Scott and Bradley, but nothing has suggested the Packers won’t give them the space to do so.
Pretty solid punting session by JK Scott. 6 of 11 punts 55-plus. Of the 5 not, one was 52, another 45 high hang, and a 45 pinned to sideline. Two wobblers he’d want back.
— Mike Spofford (@mikespofford) August 25, 2020