Saturday, September 01, 2007

Packers make cuts and a trade

Before getting to the list of cuts that got the Packers to the NFL maximum roster of 53, let's get to the semi-exciting news that the Packers traded an undisclosed future draft pick for New York Giants running back Ryan Grant. The Newark Star-Ledger said on its website that the Packers had offered one of their kickers, Mason Crosby or Dave Rayner (more about Rayner in a moment), to the Giants instead of the draft pick, but the Giants opted for the latter.

Grant is 6-foot-1 and 218-pounds. He's a graduate of Notre Dame. If the name doesn't ring a bell, it's because he spent the 2005 season on the Giants' practice squad and last season on injured reserve. So this isn't the cure to what ails the Packers' running game. It's just another back that is some insurance in case the already thin backfield in terms of both numbers and talent takes another hit.

Now, as to the cuts, some surprises...or perhaps what would have been surprises not all that long ago. According to the Packers' official website, here they are: tight end Zac Alcorn, defensive end Larry Birdine, wide receiver Shaun Bodiford, wide receiver David Clowney, cornerback Patrick Dendy, wide receiver Chris Francies, linebacker Tim Goodwell, tight end Clark Harris, linebacker Spencer Havner, linebacker Rory Johnson, guard Travis Leffew, safety Marquand Manuel, fullback Brandon Miree, safety Alvin Nnabufie, kicker Dave Rayner, wide receiver Calvin Russell, guard Adam Stenavich, tackle Orrin Thompson, quarterback Paul Thompson and running back Corey White. Safety Tyrone Culver, linebacker Abdul Hodge and guard Tyson Walter were placed on injured reserve.

In addition to trying to trade incumbent kicker Dave Rayner to the Giants for Grant, they were apparently trying to make deals with other teams, as well. No takers. According to a blog entry in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Rayner is quoted as saying: "They (the Packers) said it was the hardest decision they had to make at any position. It was one of those things where I don’t think I could have done any more. I was fighting an uphill battle the whole way after the draft. Who knows, maybe I’ll be back here someday. You never know if he’s the guy long-term or a quick fix."

So, aside from Rayner, the quick take on this set of cuts and keeps...GM Ted Thompson bit the bullet and dumped safety Marquand Manuel, who never lived up to his billing or his contract....QB Paul Thompson can hopefully make it to the practice squad...the Pack apparently felt the injury that Abdul Hodge had affected his play this year more than anything else and want to keep him around for next year if they can...the Packers really saw safety Atari Bigby come on during preseason which made it very comfortable for them to dump Manuel...RB DeShawn Wynn has enough potential for the Pack to keep him on the active roster...the Pack kept five wide receivers on the squad, including Carlyle Holiday, who could serve as an emergency QB if necessary -- combined with the fact that he's a fairly good receiver, this 2-for-1 capability was too good to let go...the Pack kept 11 rookies on the 53-man roster...other than those items...not really too many surprises.

The biggest problem facing the Pack is the same one they've had ever since Ahman Green headed to Houston: running back. The fact the Ted Thompson still has done little to address that matter just puts too much pressure on the passing game. Thankfully, with Brett tossing passes to Driver, Jennings, and Jones, that area of the offense looks very solid, barring injury. One would hope that Thompson continues to scour the cut lists and waiver wires for a proven back...although the likelihood of that happening is the same as Da Bearz (fill in the blank...)