In: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Andy Mulumba.
Too close to call: Dezman Moses, Terrell Manning, Sam Barrington, Nate Palmer.
Out: Jarvis Reed, Donte Savage.
While the starters are set, things are most interesting inside, where it’s conceivable that the Packers will try to keep all six players – Hawk, Jones, Francois, Lattimore, Manning and Barrington – and keep only three or four outside guys, knowing that Lattimore and Francois can play there in a pinch. Mulumba has been the most impressive undrafted rookie in camp and has been working ahead of Moses, who held that title last year. The guess here is that Moses still sticks, but it’s no sure thing. Palmer, like Boyd, might have potential in the scheme but just isn’t 53-man roster ready. A sixth-round pick, he makes sense to put on the practice squad. Barrington has been impressive and is on two of the first-string special teams units (kickoff return and punt return). Manning, a sixth-round pick a year ago, basically redshirted last year on defense and has made a push of late.
“We’ve (traditionally) had maybe four or five (inside linebackers),” inside linebackers coach Winston Moss said. “Remember, the first part of last season, Brad and Jamari were still going back and forth, I didn’t get Brad full-time until D.J. (Smith) got hurt. We’ll see. I don’t make those decisions. I just take the guys they give me and coach the hell out of them.”
DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)
In: Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jerron McMillian, Micah Hyde, Jarrett Bush.
Too close to call: Chris Banjo, Chaz Powell, Loyce Means, James Nixon.
Out: Brandon Smith, David Fulton, Sean Richardson.
Banjo has the edge on Powell for the fourth safety spot, although special-teams ace Bush could fill that role, too. The bone bruise in Williams’ knee remains an issue, meaning the Packers could keep an extra corner for protection. Hyde, a fifth-round pick, has been a revelation. House has been up-and-down but the coaches like his physical nature. Jennings vs. McMillian for the starting safety job will likely go down to the wire.
“It’s on them. One guy doesn’t want to let the other one have it, and that’s expected because competition continues to bring the best out of all of us,” safeties coach Darren Perry said. “We’re in a competitive business. I love it. It’s a good situation.”
Smith is a fascinating prospect but is green as grass as a converted wide receiver and probably will develop on the practice squad. Richardson’s surgically repaired neck still hasn’t been cleared for action.
“I hope after this game we can start solidifying some things. But I’m pretty close to knowing who’s going to be where in my own head,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “This game is going to be big for a lot of guys, and after this game, I’m going to pretty much have my mind set on who we’re going to go with and we’re going to go with that.
In: Tim Masthay, Brett Goode.
Too close to call: Giorgio Tavecchio, Mason Crosby.
After making all three of his field goals in St. Louis, it appeared Crosby was within a chip-shot field goal of retaining his job, especially after Tavecchio missed a 49-yarder in the climate-controlled Edward Jones Dome. Then came Wednesday’s practice, when Crosby missed three straight kicks and reminded everyone why he’s no sure thing. The Packers reportedly made a run at ex-Miami Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter after he was released, but he chose Arizona, where he has a good chance of winning the job. The feeling has always been that the Packers, down deep, want the strong-legged Crosby to get himself right and keep the job. But as their interest in Carpenter shows, they just can’t be certain about him anymore.
“We’re going to play Game No. 3 this week and we’ll continue as we see fit,” special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said of the kicking competition. “We’ll take the whole body of work. That’s the only way I know how to do it. And make an honest evaluation. We’ll just look at the big picture once we get to the point where we say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to make a decision now.’”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.