The most brutal part of the NFL summer is officially underway.
After making no roster moves to start the week, the Green Bay Packers began the process of cutting down to their initial 53-man roster for the 2021 season on the morning of cut day, needing to waive 27 players from their training-camp roster before the NFL’s deadline at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 31.
Here’s an updated look at all of the Packers’ roster cuts leading up to the deadline:
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Stephen Denmark, CB
The first roster cut of the day for the Packers wasn’t much of a surprise. While Denmark played in their preseason finale in Buffalo and might’ve been the best cornerback on the field for them against the Bills, he had been in Green Bay for less than a week after signing on August 25. Now, the former Chicago Bears seventh-round pick is once again looking for a new job.
Dexter Williams, RB
Williams, a 2019 sixth-round pick, didn’t have the worst training camp in the world for the Packers. He averaged 4.8 yards on 17 carries throughout the preseason and showed bursts of potential on the practice field, but the early rise of rookie Kylin Hill made Williams’ exit seem imminent. To be fair, Williams could potentially return in a practice-squad role for the Packers as he did in 2020 when he was left off the initial roster, but it’s tough to say at this point whether the team would invite him back.
Rojesterman Farris II, CB
Much like Denmark, Farris was another expected departure from the Packers’ cornerback room. He signed on August 27, the day they traveled to take on the Bills, and played a modest amount of defensive snaps (25), but his outlook for making the roster was never bright. Perhaps there is a role for either him or Denmark on the Packers’ practice squad, but it depends entirely on who else the Packers decide to waive before the deadline.
Christian Uphoff, S
The undrafted rookie out of Illinois State had a strong first NFL training camp with the Packers, showing promise on both defense and special teams, but a loaded roster of young safeties — even after the injury deduction of Will Redmond — had Uphoff firmly on the bubble all summer. The good news is he should be one of the Packers’ top considerations for the practice squad with a long-shot possibility that he earns an active-roster spot once the deadline passes and some of the team’s injured players are designated for injury lists.
Jacob Capra, OL
The Packers kept competition open along their offensive line for the entirety of the preseason, particularly at the interior spots, but Capra never seemed to gain much ground on some of the more impressive veterans and rookies in the field. While he didn’t allow a single pressure or sack in 26 offensive snaps and committed no penalties, it was going to be tough for an undrafted rookie to earn a depth role with one of the best frontline units in the NFL. He does, however, have the versatility of being able to play guard and center, so perhaps there is a route for him to return as a member of the practice squad.
Ben Braden, OL
Braden might be the first unexpected name on the Packers’ cut list, even though it is only a slight surprise. The 27-year-old offensive guard had been competing for a starting job at one of the two guard spots and seemed to have a good case as a depth piece after spending a portion of the 2020 season with the Packers. What makes the decision more surprising is the Packers also kept All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari on the PUP list to start the 2021 season, giving them a greater reason to retain quality line depth. If not claimed off the waivers, Braden could be another candidate for the practice squad.
Kurt Benkert, QB
The question with Benkert has always been about whether the Packers would carry three quarterbacks with them into the 2021 season. With Aaron Rodgers returning as their starter and another first-round pick in Jordan Love backing him up, there wasn’t much of a short-term reason to keep Benkert around, even after a solid preseason in which he went 33-of-48 passing for 300 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The Packers could attempt to keep Benkert on their practice squad as an emergency plan for 2021 (or as a developmental piece for a Rodgers-less future that could arrive as soon as 2022), but don’t be surprised if another team claims him off the waivers and deprives them of the chance.
Tipa Galeai, OLB
Galeai delivered an up-and-down second camp for the Packers, registering four quarterback pressures and four hurries during his 58 pass-rushing snaps in the preseason but finishing with just one tackle. The Packers could need an additional pass rusher or two for depth purposes if Za’Darius Smith is forced to miss Week 1, but Jonathan Garvin and Chauncey Rivers had both staked a better claim to that responsibility ahead of the cutdown deadline. Galeai may still hang around on the practice squad as he did in 2020, but it could depend on how they construct the rest of their roster at outside linebacker.
Kabion Ento, CB
Ento had been a rising favorite throughout camp this summer. He outlasted both Josh Jackson and Ka’dar Hollman in pursuit of a rotational spot and, despite some tackling issues during the preseason, still appeared to have quite a bit of upside for the Packers moving forward. Unfortunately, Ento was gunning for a sixth cornerback spot that would have primarily consisted of a role on special teams, where bad tackling isn’t going to fly. If the Packers believe he can correct those issues and he goes unclaimed on the waivers, there’s no reason to think he won’t land on the practice squad heading into 2021.
Patrick Taylor, RB
Taylor had some intrigue coming into camp, even though he spent the first week of it on the PUP list with the injury that held him out of the entire 2020 season. The 6-foot-3, 223-pound running back averaged 3.9 yards on 23 carries and caught two passes for 22 yards during the preseason, but he also fumbled once and struggled to outperform both Hill and Williams. A roster spot was always going to be tough for him to obtain. Fortunately, there could be a role for him on the practice squad if the Packers are prepared to move on from Williams for good. He is still only a second-year player and didn’t get the opportunity to develop on the practice field last season.
Reggie Begelton, WR
The former CFL standout looked improved during his second preseason with the Packers, and while a roster spot seemed unrealistic given the commitments at the position, Begelton has done just about all he can to prove himself worthy of a spot on the practice squad again. He caught seven of the 12 passes thrown his way for 80 yards, finishing strong with four receptions for 51 yards in the preseason finale against Buffalo.
Cole Van Lanen, OL
A tough break for a fan-favorite rookie and Green Bay native. Van Lanen showed some potential as an interior depth piece for the Packers, but a congested group of guards kept him consistently on the bubble throughout the preseason. Still, the Packers spent a 2021 sixth-round pick on him and seem likely to reacquire him for their practice squad for developmental purposes. It is worth noting that Van Lanen allowed just two total pressures in 50 pass-blocking snaps in the preseason; though, Pro Football Focus graded him with a poor pass-blocking rating of 36.5.
JJ Molson, K
Molson did nothing wrong during his preseason stint with the Packers. The presence of veteran Mason Crosby, however, made it near-impossible for Molson to justify making the 53-man roster. The Packers could stash him on the practice squad and keep him in place as their emergency kicking option in case of injury or COVID issues, but it depends on whether other kicker-needy teams swipe him off the waivers. They may also feel better taking the same approach as they did in 2020, where they brought free-agent kickers for workouts on a weekly basis to keep their records updated in case disaster struck.
Innis Gaines, S
Gaines could be one of the top options for the Packers to bring back once the 53-man roster deadline passes and they make all of their injury designations. The Packers signed to a reserve/future contract on January 8 and saw some impressive reps from him in camp practice and the preseason. Guys like Henry Black and Vernon Scott who actually played in regular-season games for the Packers last season held an obvious advantage, but Gaines could still provide a valuable depth piece on the practice squad with Redmond on injured reserve. A practice-squad decision could come down to which safety — Gaines or Uphoff — the Packers like more, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see both of them retained for the reserves.
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR
St. Brown’s days have felt numbered since the 2020 postseason ended. The 2018 sixth-round pick finished his third season with a disappointing nine receptions for 154 yards and a single touchdown and also dropped a critical two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game. While there might have originally been room for him to get back in the Packers’ good graces, the arrival of third-round rookie Amari Rodgers and the return of Randall Cobb via a late-July trade all but doomed his chances of making the roster. It didn’t help that St. Brown also missed a significant portion of camp with an injury and participated in none of the three preseason games. At this point, a practice-squad role even seems unlikely.
Willington Previlon, DL
Previlon, a UDFA signing from last year, played OK during his 121 defensive snaps during the preseason, but he hardly looked explosive or disruptive enough to claim a roster role. While it was encouraging to see him shut down a few run plays and generate four total pressures, there is still much work to be done before he has a shot at contributing. On the plus side, that makes him an ideal candidate for the Packers’ practice squad, where he could spend another year developing.
Ray Wilborn, ILB
There appeared to be an opportunity for Wilborn when the Packers chose to cut loose 2020 fifth-rounder Kamal Martin on August 24. While Krys Barnes and De’Vondre Campbell topped the depth chart, the only returning depth pieces were Ty Summers and Oren Burks, neither of whom looked terrific on the field in past seasons. Wilborn also looked solid in the preseason with nine solo tackles and five stops (a tackle that resulted in a successful outcome for the defense) across 83 defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. What most likely hurt his case was Isaiah McDuffie’s triumphant return from injury in the Packers’ preseason finale, in which the 2021 sixth-round pick led the team with nine tackles and paired with Delontae Scott to sack Bills backup Jake Fromm. Nevertheless, Wilborn still has a good case for a practice-squad spot.
Coy Cronk, OL
On the surface, Cronk was an anticipated departure. He wasn’t very good during the 20 pass-blocking snaps he played at left tackle throughout the preseason, allowing two sacks and committing one penalty. It is a little surprising, though, to see him waived with Braden, Van Lanen and Capra also missing the cut. The Packers will need quality linemen for depth’s sake with Bakhtiari out of commission for at least the first six weeks of the season, and while Cronk might not have fit the bill as a right-away contributor, he went up against sturdy Big Ten competition during his college days at the University of Iowa and has potential as a run-blocker. Whether it will be enough to earn him a practice-squad look remains to be seen.
Damon Hazelton, WR
The Packers’ depth at wide receiver made Hazelton an instant long shot when he signed on August 20. While the rookie played more than 40 preseason snaps, he was never targetted with a pass and, therefore, missed out on a chance to gain some ground in the roster battle. It is questionable whether the Packers will even consider him for a practice-squad spot given some of the other talented players left off their initial active roster, but his status as an undrafted rookie could tempt the Packers into further developing him behind the scenes.
Delontae Scott, OLB
The Packers have been clear that special teams contributions are paramount for any pass rusher looking to contribute behind their Big Three of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, so it isn’t shocking to see a 2020 practice-squad holdover like Scott miss the initial roster. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder tallied a modest eight tackles with six stops, three total pressures and 0.5 sacks during the preseason, but he was also frequently behind the rest of the group in reps. Maybe the Packers feel his ability to play both defensive end and outside ‘backer offers decent upside; though, like with Galeai, a practice-squad spot could depend on how confident the Packers are in Z’s ability to return to the fold before Week 1.
Juwann Winfree, WR
The former Denver Broncos sixth-round pick was generating quite a bit of buzz during the Packers’ spring minicamp, but Winfree sustained a shoulder injury during the Packers Family Night practice at Lambeau Field on August 7 and did not play at all during the preseason. While it is hard to put faith in someone who hasn’t been available, the Packers did house Winfree on their practice squad for most of the 2020 season (giving him two elevation opportunities despite him getting no targets) and could do it again if they liked enough of what they saw prior to his injury. With Devin Funchess no longer on the team and St. Brown unlikely to return, Winfree might be the most ideal option for a practice-squad receiver.
Carlo Kemp, DL
Kemp didn’t do much to distinguish himself throughout camp and the preseason. The UDFA signing out of Michigan played on just 48 defensive snaps and recorded only a single tackle and quarterback pressure, falling far behind fellow undrafted rookie Jack Heflin in the roster chase. It is possible that his youth will earn him preference for a practice-squad role over a second-year guy like Previlon, but the Packers might just cut their losses and let him find a new team.
Bronson Kaufusi, TE
Despite an endorsement from Aaron Rodgers during camp, Kaufusi never ascended beyond the sixth tight end spot in camp and saw no action in the preseason. Still, it was encouraging to see him improve over the course of the summer after only a year ago switching positions from defensive end. His versatility and athleticism alone could earn him another shot on the practice squad. Then again, the former Baltimore Ravens third-round pick is already 30 years old and is most likely past his prime in the NFL. But hey, maybe the Buffalo Bills will give him a call like they did when the Packers cut ties with Jake Kumerow last summer?
Abdullah Anderson, DL
Another former Bears defender, Anderson was signed on August 25 and played a measly 10 snaps in the preseason finale against the Bills. It is likely he was only added for the sake of having another fresh body while starters rested, but there’s no telling how that will impact his chances of returning on the practice squad. After all, he has seen action in seven NFL games over the past two seasons and has a sack on his resume. Experience does count for something.
De’Jon Harris, ILB
While Harris spent time on the Packers’ practice squad last season and had Pro Football Focus grade him as the team’s second-best defender (78.0) against the Bills last weekend, there weren’t many standout moments from him throughout camp. There might have been a chance for either him or Wilborn to make the roster had McDuffie not returned to play in the preseason finale, but the sixth-round investment in McDuffie and the Packers’ general confidence in the rest of the group — Summers and Burks more so for special teams — sealed Harris’ fate.
JK Scott, P
As a result of the Packers trading for Rams punter Corey Bojorquez just before the cutdown deadline, Scott ended up becoming the team’s only starter to lose his job on Tuesday. His struggles over his first three seasons with the Packers have been well-documented, but it is still a bit of a surprise to see him ousted after seemingly winning a position battle against Ryan Winslow earlier in the offseason. Scott was a 2018 fifth-round pick for the Packers in Brian Gutekunst’s first draft class as general manager and still had one year left on his rookie deal.
Previous Roster Cuts
80-Man Cutdown (August 24)
Daniel Crawford, TE (waived)
Will Redmond, S (placed on IR)
Ka’dar Hollman, CB (traded to Houston for 2022 seventh-round pick)
Josh Avery, DL (waived)
Kamal Martin, ILB (waived)
85-Man Cutdown (on August 17)
Jon Dietzen, G/T (waived)
Ryan Winslow, P (waived)
Isaac Nauta, TE (placed on IR)
DeAndre Thompkins, WR (placed on IR)
Zack Johnson, G/T (waived)