GREEN BAY – The preseason finale has arrived, and that means roster decisions are right around the corner.
The Packers will select their 53-man roster on Saturday, and they can start signing players to practice-squad contracts on Sunday, after the waiver period.
With that in mind, here are the performances to watch on Thursday vs. the Rams.
1. The backup quarterbacks – The Packers know Aaron Rodgers is the No. 1 and Brett Hundley is the No. 2. Will Joe Callahan or Taysom Hill be the No. 3? And will that quarterback be on the active roster or practice squad when it’s all said and done? Callahan and Hill didn’t play in the third preseason game in Denver, so they stand to get plenty of work in this one. Hill has enjoyed the better of it statistically so far (105.7 passer rating vs. 72.9), but maybe Callahan can recapture his magic from last preseason. Either way, it could be a tough call.
2. The cornerbacks – Davon House (who is back from a hamstring injury), rookie Kevin King, and third-year pros Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins are the Packers’ top four corners right now, in some order. But more than four will be needed, so who else will make it? LaDarius Gunter has the most experience, and Josh Hawkins has made significant strides in his second year. Four undrafted rookies – Donatello Brown, Raysean Pringle, Daquan Holmes and Lenzy Pipkins – also will take their last shot at getting noticed.
3. The receivers – The position has been the competition of camp. Beyond the big three, Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis have each stated a strong preseason case for a roster spot. Draft picks DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre are right in the mix along with the steady Max McCaffrey, the intriguing 6-6 Michael Clark, and the speedy Montay Crockett. Geronimo Allison is suspended for Week 1, so that could buy someone a week on the active roster. There’s a lot of talent, but not enough room for everyone.
4. The punter – Two-thirds of the Packers’ specialists have been chosen now, with Brett Goode winning the long snapper job following the release of rookie Derek Hart. Obviously Mason Crosby is the kicker. Rookie Justin Vogel has one more game to nail down the punting job, and his numbers have been solid (45.2-yard gross average, 42.6 net, seven of 17 inside the 20) despite some lack of consistency. Whether he secures the job or not, the Packers will have their third punter in a three-year span.
5. The outside linebackers – Clay Matthews (groin tightness), Nick Perry (ankle) and Jayrone Elliott (back) are currently injured, and the first two weren’t likely to play in this game anyway. This presents a huge opportunity for 2015 third-round pick Kyler Fackrell, practice-squad holdover Reggie Gilbert, and undrafted rookies Jonathan Calvin and Josh Letuligasenoa to make a statement about where they belong on the depth chart, all with the backdrop of a free-agent visit this past week from former 49ers pass rusher Ahmad Brooks.