As the Green Bay Packers face Cincinnati tonight in Monday Night Football action, several players find themselves in the position of needing to finish strong to gain a spot on the final 53 player roster.
Some of the players that I think are on the proverbial fense are:
3rd Tight end – Donald Lee or Tory Humphrey. Humphrey has had a pretty good training camp and has pushed Lee for the 3rd spot. Lee however has been a solid pass catcher in the past and is a proven player in the league. One of these two will land a spot, and it'll be a close call.
backup runningbacks – Najeh Davenport is definitely on the bubble here. He's drawn some criticism from the coaches for missing so much practice time and when he's been on the field, has averaged under 3-yards per carry. Arliss Beach has looked good, in fact he leads the team in rushing through two games. Look for Beach to make a strong run at a roster spot. Fullback Vonta Leach could be on the bubble as well with his inability to catch balls out of the backfield. Perhaps the only thing keeping him around would be William Henderson's knee injury and his age.
defensive lineman – Kenny Peterson hasn't played in the preseason yet. He may get his first shot tonight. Peterson needs to show the coaching staff something, but he does have the ability to swing from end to tackle, giving him the versatility the coaching staff may value in a player. DT Johnny Jolly, DE Dave Tollefson and DE Jason Hunter are also on the fence.
defensive backs – People are questioning Mike Hawkins toughness. The second year defensive back will play tonight and needs to make an impression, or could be on the waiver wire by weeks end.
linebackers – Outside linebacker Roy Manning is the victim of the Packers going out and strengthening the position during the offseason. Manning isn't a bad backup, but there may not be enough room for him. Manning is on the bubble.
quarterbacks – Ingle Martin will probably get a chance to show what he can do in the final preseason game on Friday. He may be best suited to start the season on the practice squad, with the Packers picking up a veteran to fill the 3rd QB position.
wide receivers – The Packers acquisition of Carlton Brewster in a trade last week has added a little bit to the position battle. Brewster won't likely get much of a shot tonight, but could play a lot on Friday. He's opened some eyes in practice and could get a good look on Friday. A good performance and he could find his way on the roster. Ingle Martin has looked outstanding at times, then gone through spells where he's struggled with dropped passes. Martin is definitely on the bubble. Cory Rodgers can't hang on to punts and the only way he sticks is if the Packers think the investment of a high draft pick would be reason to give him a longer look.
offensive line – Josh Bourke, Michael Moore, Junius Coston and Will Whitticker are all on the fence. The Packers will keep 9 or 10 lineman a couple of these guys will lose out if they decide to go with 9.
kicking/punting – Both punter Jon Ryan and kicker Dave Rayner should be looking over their shoulders. They may open the season in the teams two kicking spots, but that doesn't mean it'll stay that way for long. Veteran kickers are available now, like Martin Gramatica and Paul Edinger. Don't be surprised if one of those two is in the Packers roster kicking against the Bears on opening day.