Packers Release Backup TE & Rookie RB in First Roster Cuts

Dafney Released Packers

Getty Dominique Dafney #49 of the Green Bay Packers catches a 13 yard touchdown pass against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter in the game at Soldier Field on January 03, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

The Green Bay Packers made their first round of roster cuts for 2022 training camp on August 16, reducing their numbers from 90 players to 85, and one of the tight ends returning from last year’s active roster did not make the cut.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst announced Tuesday that third-year tight end Dominique Dafney had been released from their 85-man roster along with outside linebacker Randy Ramsey and a cluster of undrafted rookies that included running back B.J. Baylor, offensive guard George Moore and inside linebacker Ellis Brooks.

Additionally, the Packers also made official their acquisition of tight end Nate Becker, whom they were awarded off the waiver wire from the Carolina Panthers. The 26-year-old has played just one career NFL game back in 2020 with the Buffalo Bills, but Dafney’s departure could give him a better shot at making the 53-man roster.

The Packers will have their next round of roster cuts at 4 p.m. next Tuesday, August 23, when NFL teams are required to reduce their numbers from 85 to 80 for the final week of the preseason. The final round of cuts will take place on August 30.

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Dafney’s Early Spark Fades With Injuries

Dafney had been a bit of a sparkplug for the Packers once upon a time. After getting signed to their practice squad in October 2020 during his rookie season, he made the most of his game-day elevation opportunities and earned a spot on the active roster in a matter of months. He played a total of five games, including two in which he started, and finished with two catches for 26 yards and a Week 17 touchdown against Chicago.

The biggest appeal of Dafney — who stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 246 pounds — was his capabilities as a blocking tight end. The Packers have held steady with veteran Marcedes Lewis over the past several seasons, but he was once considered a potential successor in that role while Robert Tonyan and Josiah Deguara focused on pass-catching responsibilities. He might still be contending for that role, too, if not for the injuries that have continued to plague him since the start of his second season.

Dafney suffered a hip injury that landed him on injured reserve just before the Packers’ third game of the 2021 regular season, missing the next five matchups. While he was activated again on game day in Week 8 and slid right back into the lineup, he never really regained much presence in the offense and played mostly on special teams for the remainder of the season. He also dealt with hamstring and ankle injuries in the later parts of the year that cost him another two games.

The good news for Dafney was there was still an opportunity in front of him heading into Year 3. With Tonyan recovering from his ACL tear, there were extra reps to go around at training camp for him, Davis and some of the other roster hopefuls competing behind Lewis and Deguara. Unfortunately, Dafney sustained a knee injury that sidelined him for about a week of camp and held him out of the preseason opener this past weekend.

Dafney did return to practice on Monday, but the Packers ultimately waived him with an injury designation the next day during their cutdown period.

Goodson vs. Williams Takes Center Stage

While it is rarely surprising when a team moves on from an undrafted rookie, it was a little unexpected to see Baylor’s name among the cut list on Tuesday. The former Oregon State standout played fairly well in his preseason debut for the Packers, carrying the ball seven times for 19 yards. He also caught both of his targets in the passing game, including a dumpoff from Danny Etling  against the blitz that he took 68 yards.

Ultimately, though, the Packers are most likely only looking for one more back for their in-season roster. They have Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon dialed in as their one-two punch and will most likely tab second-year Kylin Hill as their RB3 once he recovers from last year’s ACL tear, but Hill could begin the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, leaving room in the rotation for a third rusher.

With Baylor gone, the remaining candidates are undrafted rookie Tyler Goodson, third-year back Patrick Taylor and 2019 seventh-round pick Dexter Williams, who was just re-signed to the roster ahead of the team’s preseason opener. Goodson led the team with 12 carries for 37 yards against the 49ers and added two receptions for 24 yards, but Williams got more done with fewer reps. His 25-yard breakaway run was the biggest — by far — among any Packers back in the first preseason game.

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