Cut down day for NFL franchises are never an easy thing. Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson knows this first hand. When Thompson was a linebacker/special teams player for the Houston Oilers back in the 1980s, he was cut, ending his football career. So when it comes to cutting a player as a general manager, Thompson understands how difficult decisions are. This past weekend, Thompson and the Packers cut their roster down to 53 players and in the process, parted ways with some players who were viable options to make the team. But for some players, it isn’t goodbye from Packer land just yet. Familiar faces return to the Green Bay Packers practice squad.
Familiar Faces Return to the Green Bay Packers Practice Squad
Since the NFL has forgone having a true developmental league, the practice squad has become the closest thing to a place for a player to develop during the NFL season. Up to ten players can be carried on the practice squad and aren’t counted towards the 53 man roster. The salaries are a lot less than what active players make, but still, it is a chance to stay with an NFL team and possibly become a part of an NFL roster. Last season, wide receiver Geronimo Allison spent time on the Packers practice squad before being “called up” to the active roster and catching 12 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. So there is a chance that one or more of these players might be a part of the Packers active roster this season. Here are the players who will make up the Packers practice squad to start off the season.
Joe Callahan, Quarterback
It can be argued that the quarterback the Packers truly wanted on their practice squad was rookie Taysom Hill, and not Callahan. But when both Hill and Callahan were cut by the Packers, it was Hill who was claimed by the New Orleans Saints. Hill outplayed Callahan this preseason, but it seems that head coach Mike McCarthy is still a fan of Callahan’s and that he sees a future in him for the Packers. This isn’t Callahan’s first time on the Packers practice squad, as he spent time on it last season as well before getting the call up. He also spent time on the Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints active roster last season. Callahan will serve as the Packers third quarterback and if something were to happen to either starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers or backup quarterback Brett Hundley he will be elevated to the 53 man roster.
Michael Clark, Wide Receiver
Clark seems like the perfect player to spend time on a practice squad. The former college basketball player is raw, but has a lot of upside. The 6’5” 215 pound Marshall University product played only one season of college football. He transferred to Marshall after playing basketball at St. Francis University, and is still learning to play wide receiver. If Clark progresses like the Packers are hoping he will, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him on the active roster, either this season or next.
DeAngelo Yancey, Wide Receiver
It would seem that the Packers would have been better off with either Max McCaffrey or Malachi Dupree at this spot instead of Yancey. Both McCaffrey and Dupree outplayed Yancey this preseason and truthfully, look to have more potential. However, out of the three receivers, who were all cut, it is Yancey that will be returning. But as was the case with former Packers linebacker and Thompson draft pick Carl Bradford, it seems that Thompson is having a hard time admitting failure when it comes to a player he selected. Yancey was over-drafted, with some experts pegging him as an undrafted free agent Instead, Thompson selected him in the fifth round, and the way he played this training camp, really didn’t earn a spot on the practice squad. But being tied to Thompson, it wouldn’t be shocking if he sticks with the Packers practice squad this whole season.
Reggie Gilbert, Outside Linebacker
It has been speculated that Gilbert was one of the last cuts by the Packers at the end of this season’s training camp. Gilbert outperformed Kyler Fackrell in training camp, but it was Fackrell who made the 53 man roster. Gilbert was on the Packers practice squad last season and the way he progressed this training camp, it wouldn’t be shocking to see another team, or even the Packers, give him a shot on an active roster.
Kofi Amichia, Guard/Center
Amichia is another draft pick of Thompson’s who failed to make the opening day roster. Amichia was beat out by Justin McCray and Lucas Patrick, both players showing the ability to play at guard and center. Amichia isn’t a lost cause by any means, he is still extremely athletic and can still pack on some pounds to his frame. Landing on the practice squad might turn out to be the best thing for Amichia, allowing him to put on some weight and still receive the attention of Packers offensive line coach James Campen.
Jermaine Whitehead, Safety
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers really likes to have depth at the safety position. On the current 53 man roster, Capers and the Packers have safeties Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton Dix, Marwin Evans, and rookie Josh Jones. With being so deep, there wasn’t a spot for Whitehead, who battled an injury early in this season’s training camp. If something were to happen to any of the safeties on the 53 man roster, Capers and the Packers will look to Whitehead to fill the spot.
Adam Pankey, Offensive Tackle/Guard
The depth on offensive line has been called into question for the Packers, especially at guard, which is why Patrick and McCray made the opening day roster. With keeping Pankey on the practice squad, they are playing it safe in case one of the active offensive linemen goes down. Pankey can play tackle, but in training camp, he looked best at guard.
Derrick Matthews, Inside Linebacker
The Packers are only carrying three true inside linebackers on their opening roster, Joe Thomas, Blake Martinez, and Jake Ryan. Safeties Burnett and Jones will see time at inside linebacker in the Packers “Nitro” package, but still, keeping three true inside linebackers, like they did last season, seems pretty slim. Matthews proved he was a big hitter in training camp and the time on the practice squad will allow him to be groomed in case something happens to the three on the active roster.
Donatello Brown, Cornerback
With the NFL being a pass happy league, you can never have enough cornerbacks. Brown had a strong camp, but lost out to a numbers game. In the Packers last preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams, Brown had a very impressive interception. Brown played at Division II Valdosta State, so he is still adjusting to the speed of the NFL but his time on the practice squad will help.
Izaah Lunsford, Defensive Lineman
Lunsford is the only interior defensive lineman on the Packers practice squad. He didn’t have an overly impressive camp, but has good size at 6’3″ and 310 pounds to play either nose tackle or defensive end in the Packers 3-4 defensive alignment.