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The roster battle breakdown

by Mark Daniels

Even though a Pre-Season game has yet to be played, we're about halfway through training camp. The Packers will finish their 10th of 21 camp workouts Wednesday. So little time with so many decisions. Here's my take on how the 2014 roster is taking shape, position by position.

Quarterback:

The only question here is whether Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson want to carry two or three. Considering what happened last year when four different QB's started, they might want the insurance but if not, Matt Flynn is clearly superior to Scott Tolzien who isn't eligible for the practice squad anymore. At least Chase Rettig got a taste of an NFL camp.

Running Back:

Hard to imagine Eddie Lacy getting another 284 carries this year. James Starks was a very nice compliment and DuJuan Harris is chomping at the bit for an increased role coming off the injury last year. John Kuhn is secure at fullback. That might be the extent of the backfield. LaDarius Perkins and Rajion Neal would need a Tyrell Sutton like pre-season to complicate the deliberation. Backup fullback Ina Liaina certainly has the bulk at 250 pounds but the team isn't ready to moth ball Kuhn yet. Michael Hill is recovering from a concussion and a missed week isn't helping him.

Tight End:

One of the most intriguing positions of camp. Jermichael Finley isn't coming back and almost on a daily basis, one of the seven candidates gets noticed. Andrew Quarless has had a fairly steady camp but my favorite is third round pick Richard Rodgers of Cal. The Rodgers to Rodgers connection is developing, he's a smooth runner with really good hands. Ryan Taylor's value on special teams could keep him on board. Brandon Bostick has had a few too many mental errors, Jake Stoneburner has gotten better, Justin Perillo won't make it and Colt Lyerla's injury has all but killed his already long shot chances.

Wide Receiver:

The top three are known, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin. Right now, Davante Adams, the second rounder, is a solid number four. After that, it's a battle. The ACL loss of Jared Abbrederis and the week off for shingles-stricken Jeff Janis has thinned the pool. The fight for number five and six (if they keep that many) is down to Kevin Dorsey, Myles White and possibly Gerrard Sheppard, claimed off waivers from Baltimore last week. Chris Harper really needs to giddyup. Hard not to love Alex Gillett, the former Eastern Michigan quarterback, but it's not going to be enough.

Offensive Line:

The front five is all set. Mike McCarthy has been gushing about the Bahktiari, Sitton, Tretter, Lang and Bulaga combination, thinking it might be the best line he's had. The depth took a big hit with Don Barclay's ACL injury. He was the perfect sixth man who could play anywhere. I wasn't sure I'd ever say this but the Packers are actually counting on Derek Sherrod for the first time. Give him credit for not giving up and waiting for nearly two years for the ugly broken leg to get right. He's going to be the swing tackle and Lane Taylor is the most likely inside reserve. Rookie Corey Linsley is worth keeping over Garth Gerhart at backup center and Jordan McCray, like Sitton, a former Central Florida player, has entered the discussion at guard. Throw the rest of the group in a pile and pick one or two out to fill the roster at 10, not many have distinguished themselves.

Defensive Line:

The Packers hope smaller is better with beefy Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett gone. Mike Daniels is backing up his vocal presence in the locker room with 8000 RPM play on the practice field. B.J. Raji is happy on the nose. Datone Jones has first dibs at left defensive end. I have three bigs really battling hard, returner Josh Boyd, rookie Khyri Thornton and free agent Mike Pennel who's climbing fast. Luther Robinson will get a lot of Pre-Season snaps because we still haven't seen Jerel Worthy or Letroy Guion. Worthy, a number two pick last year, might be in big trouble.

Linebackers:

Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have lined up on opposite flanks, alongside each other and stacked behind each other. They will never be in the same place twice it appears. A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones still man the middle. The depth starts with Mike Neal, Nick Perry and Jamari Lattimore. If the Packers keep 10, there's only three spots left. Carl Bradford is the draft pick and he fights hard being undersized. Nate Palmer has moved ahead of Andy Mulumba who hasn't progressed. Sam Barrington has had his moments and a couple of free agents are working hard, my favorite is Joe Thomas, an inside backer from South Carolina State. Some talent will get cut here, Adrian Hubbard, Jayrone Elliot and Korey Jones might find work elsewhere.

Defensive Backs:

The top four corners are pretty solid, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House. Hayward in particular, has stood out after missing all of last season. This unit really missed him. Jarrett Bush continues to defy age. Draft pick Demetri Goodson has been disappointing. At safety, Morgan Burnett will be teamed with Micah Hyde most of the time, his transition to the back end has been smooth. Top pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is still a long ways from being a major contributor but he's going to get plenty of snaps over the four dress rehearsals. Chris Banjo made it the hard way last year and might do it again, he's well ahead of Charles Clay and Tanner Miller. Then there's Sean Richardson, recovered from his neck surgery and worth keeping. More tough cuts here.

Specialists:

Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay and Brett Goode are all sleeping well. No competition this summer, jobs locked up.