With the expected starters playing the first half and some into the third quarter of tomorrow night's Bishop's Charities game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lambeau Field, the players battling for roster spots will have precious few opportunities to shine over the final week of the pre-season. After 4 weeks of camp, here's how I see the roster taking shape at each offensive position.
Quarterback: The Packers kept only Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn last year, jettisoning draft choice Brian Brohm. Former Texas Tech and Canadian Football League quarterback Graham Harrell is almost a lock for the practice squad and has a chance to stick as a number three. Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was right when he said of Harrell this week, "He kinda grows on you."
Running Back: Injuries have forced fullback John Kuhn to take a bunch of reps at running back and he has a knack for finding holes. Good insurance for the positiion, headlined by Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson. Kuhn's versatility could eliminate the need for a third running back, putting Kregg Lumpkin and free agent Quin Porter on the block. Draft choice James Starks has yet to hit the practice field with a hamstring. Injured Reserve or the practice squad are likely scenarios. At fullback, Kuhn was joined by Korey Hall and Quinn Johnson last year. There may be room for only two because of tight end depth and Johnson would be the odd man out.
Tight End: Mike McCarthy called this the deepest group he's had yet. Jermichael Finley is a star in the making, Donald Lee is the dependable veteran, Spencer Havner is mister versatility also playinig linebacker, Andrew Quarless is the draft choice with promise and Tom Crabtree has been one of the most pleasant free agent surprises and he may be the best blocker of the bunch. Could the Packers keep all five? It's possible.
Wide Receiver: I don't expect any changes here with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jordy Nelson forming one of the best quartets in the league. Despite a minor injury, Brett Swain clearly stands above the rest in this group and should stick. Charles Dillon, Chastin West, Patrick Williams and Shaun Gore will all depart.
Offensive Line: Some tough calls here and the group could be altered if Ted Thompson finds a team in need of guards and shops either Jason Spitz or Daryn Colledge. Colledge may fend off the challenge of number one pick Brian Bulaga. Mark Tauscher, Chad Clifton, Josh Sitton and Scott Wells round out the starting five. Spitz could be the swing guard and backup center could be held again by Evan Dietrich Smith. After that, it gets dicey. I think Allen Barbre and Brenno Giacommini are both in big trouble after failing to get noticeably better this year. Rookie Marshall Newhouse may have more upside and he should stick. TJ Lang should hold down the final spot.
I'll cut down the defense and special teams tomorrow.