GREEN BAY – The Packers’ 2016 preseason is about to conclude, and the roster must be reduced to 53 players by Saturday at 3 p.m. On Sunday afternoon, teams can begin assembling their practice squads.
There’s a lot at stake in Kansas City with the regular season on the horizon. Here are five things to watch against the Chiefs.
1. Inside linebackers – Not many of Green Bay’s starters are going to play, but the inside linebackers will. The Packers are still trying to sort out the pecking order amongst Jake Ryan, Sam Barrington and rookie Blake Martinez. What’s the best combination for the base defense? The nickel and the dime? The most important factor is the Packers have viable options, unlike recent years.
2. Carl Bradford – Continuing with the inside linebacker theme, Bradford has made a spirited bid for a roster spot when he was all but written off after his first two seasons. He was a gameday inactive every week as a rookie in 2014, and then he was released and re-signed to the practice squad in 2015. He has shown better instincts and reactions, along with comfort in Dom Capers’ scheme, this summer, and if he makes the final 53, it could be the story of training camp.
3. Jacob Schum – The two punters competing for the job all camp are now gone, and the job is Schum’s to lose. Claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay, Schum gets one dress rehearsal with his new team to both punt and hold for kicker Mason Crosby. Given what happened eight years ago with the Jon Ryan/Derrick Frost switch, this move will be scrutinized closely, and Schum could use a strong debut to win over the fans.
4. Brandon Burks – John Crockett’s shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve and handed the No. 3 running back job to Burks, for now. Burks has made impressive runs in each of the preseason games, showing burst and elusiveness, and now he has to lock down the job, or the Packers might be looking to the waiver wire on Saturday afternoon for another option.
5. The secondary – This area has been worth watching all preseason. The Packers have a stable of young talent looking to crack the roster at both cornerback (Robertson Daniel, Josh Hawkins, Makinton Dorleant, who will likely miss the game due to injury) and safety (Kentrell Brice, Marwin Evans). There certainly isn’t room for everybody, maybe only one or two. Others might be claimed on waivers or back on the practice squad. It’s a highly fluid situation.