In a stunning turn of events, Coach Mike McCarthy announced that new signee, cornerback Joe Haden will start Thursday against the LA Rams. Wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Percy Harvin have announced plans to come out of retirement and play with Green Bay for the veteran minimum.
“I’m tired of just waiting for players to develop and taking chances on unknown players,” said GM Ted Thompson. “That’s why we’re pleased to announce Aaron Rodgers’ contract will be extended through 2025 with $100 million guaranteed. If that chipmunk-faced loser from Detroit can be the highest-paid player in NFL history, we should pay Rodgers four times as much. His mustache is worth more than 31 of the NFL’s quarterbacks combined.”
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Back to reality, where the Packers have signed Ahmad Brooks after his release by the 49ers. The primary reason to watch the final preseason contest is to say farewell to many training camp signees who will be playing their last games as a Packer.
With the change to one roster cut from 90 to 53 on September 2, instead of the gradual cuts of years past, both teams will have a full roster to choose from. Backup wide receivers will make tough catches over the middle against cornerbacks scrapping to continue their professional football career.
The Packers do face an interesting battle for the third quarterback spot. Four quarterbacks are an unimaginable luxury in the salary cap era.
Joe Callahan, breakout star of the 2016 preseason, will square off against 27-year-old rookie Taysom Hill. Hill has already made a splash with some long runs, including a 26-yard touchdown against Washington in the second preseason game.
Callahan failed to catch on with the Saints in 2016, but showed an excellent deep ball and sound decision making in his 2016 preseason games. Hill has been taking starting reps in training camp this week, so he is the anticipated starter against the Rams.
The offensive line will be an all-backup unit: practices have showcased Jason Spriggs at left tackle, Kofi Amichia at left guard, Justin McCray at center, Adam Pankey at right guard, and Kyle Murphy at right tackle. Because of the need for depth on the offensive line, this will be a critical game for these players and the third-stringers as well.
Tight ends Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers should get several targets Thursday night. Michael Clark, the 6’6 wide receiver, is also fighting for a practice squad spot against the deep receiving corps.
Local favorite Jeff Janis should make the team for his special teams play, but will need to avoid any costly drops or turnovers. He may be used as the primary returner.
Injuries to Clay Matthews and Jayrone Elliott make linebacker spots critical, especially a pass-rushing outside linebacker. Reggie Gilbert, Jonathan Calvin, and Josh Letuligasenoa will be key pieces to improve a defense that struggled with the pass rush last season.
37 of the 90 players on the roster will be cut after this weekend. Some will have played their last games as a Packer. The front office is not afraid to cut any player; as last season’s departure of Pro Bowler Josh Sitton proved.
This game may not showcase the best the Packers have to offer, but individual players must make their best efforts.