GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers did indeed keep six wide receivers on their 53-man roster. The sixth just wasn’t one of the wideouts who were so frequently discussed during the offseason.
Wide receivers Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel, who turned down spots on other teams’ active rosters last year to stay on the Packers practice squad, were among the 18 players released by the team Friday night, as undrafted rookie free agent Jarrett Boykin made the team and joined arguably the league’s deepest group of pass catchers.
The team also placed 2011 first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod, who suffered a horrific broken lower leg Dec. 18 at Kansas City and hasn’t played or practiced since, on the physically unable to perform list. Outside linebacker Vic So’oto was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury suffered in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Chiefs.
Also released were offensive tackle Shea Allard, tight end Brandon Bostick, quarterback B.J. Coleman, fullback Nic Cooper, left tackle Andrew Datko, center/guard Tommie Draheim, center Sampson Genus, wide receiver Curenski Gilleylen, defensive end Lawrence Guy, safety Anthony Levine, cornerback Otis Merrill, wide receiver Dale Moss, defensive tackle Daniel Muir, running back Marc Tyler, guard Greg Van Roten and veteran guard/tackle Reggie Wells.
Two more players began serving their NFL suspensions Friday night, getting the Packers to the 53-man limit: Defensive end Mike Neal (four games, for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (one game, for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Boykin, the all-time leading receiver in Virginia Tech school history, led Packers receivers with 13 receptions for 166 yards in preseason play to cap a strong camp. He made the roster behind Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb and Donald Driver.
Boykin was one of 10 rookies – and four undrafted rookies – to make the team. Also kept were outside linebacker Dezman Moses, tackle Don Barclay and safety Sean Richardson. The first six of the team’s eight draft picks made the team: First-rounder Nick Perry, second-rounders Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward, fourth-rounders Jerron McMillian and Mike Daniels, and fifth-rounder Terrell Manning.
Datko and Coleman, both seventh-round picks and the only two offensive players the team drafted, were both released. They figure to be two of the eight players who will be able to join the team’s practice squad starting Saturday at 11 a.m. Coleman is a logical practice-squad candidate, as the Packers will carry only two quarterbacks – NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and backup Graham Harrell – on the 53-man roster.
The team kept only seven offensive linemen, with Evan Dietrich-Smith and Barclay as the only two backups. That likely means general manager Ted Thompson will scour the waiver wire and investigate possible trades for another lineman, meaning the roster is not yet set. Wells had been signed midway through camp as insurance at the position but apparently did not impress the coaches.
The team kept four running backs on the roster, including injured running back James Starks. Starks, who has been sidelined since Aug. 9 with a turf toe injury, has been the subject of conjecture that his roster spot was in peril. Alex Green, Cedric Benson and Brandon Saine round out that position group.
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