The Green Bay Packers have one more preseason test, tonight (6 pm) against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field. It’s a game that will feature very few starters, if at all. It’s about giving reserves one final shot to make an impression in their attempt to win a roster spot with the Packers. It’s also about staying as healthy as possible with the season opener against the Chicago Bears just over a week away.
So what do we look for tonight? After rookie Brett Hundley completed 22 of 31 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns last week, we’re all wondering if Hundley can do it again. Scott Tolzien, who has been cleared to play after a concussion, is expected to start tonight, then give way to Hundley. Hundley won the third QB job after his outing against the Eagles and the Packers released Matt Blanchard this week in the first roster cut to 75 players.
Khyri Thornton and Carl Bradford are last years third and fourth round draft picks and could be on their way out. Both have been so disappointing that the Packers may be ready to cut ties, which is rare for such high draft picks to be released after just one NFL season.
Demetri Goodson, Justin Perillo, Joe Thomas, Josh Walker, James Vaughters, Bruce Gaston and Chris Banjo are other bubble players. There’s probably room for three or four of them on the final 53-man roster. A solid final game effort could help any of them stick around for the regular season.
Former Badger Jared Abbrederis finally returned to practice this week after suffering a concussion in the first training camp practice and missing all of training camp until this week. In two preseasons, Abbrederis has never played in an exhibition game. He’s hoping to suit up tonight and play tonight. It might be a stretch to suggest that the Packers would keep Abbrederis on the regular season roster with just one game and two practices under his belt. But there’s a chance Abbrederis could land on the Packers practice squad, especially since the Packers invested a fifth round draft pick on the Wautoma native.
Punter Tim Masthay finished the last season as one of the lowest rated punters in the NFL. The Packers signed some competition, but released Cody Mandell early in training camp, giving the job to Masthay. His struggles continued in the preseason. He’ll need to improve tonight, or face the possibility that the Packers would open up the competition going into the season opener at Chicago. The one thing Masthay has going for him in the short term is the fact that he is the holder for kicker Mason Crosby. But that security may not last if Masthay doesn’t start to perform better.
Following tonight’s game, the Packers will have to release 22 players to get to the regular season roster limit of 53 players by 3pm Saturday.