It is make-or-break time for many of the players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster bubble.
Friday night’s trip to Oakland to take on the Raiders will provide the second-to-last opportunity for those fighting for roster spots to state their case in a game setting.
Here are eight players on the roster bubble worth watching in the Packers’ third preseason game:
Hundley has improved this offseason, both in execution and command, and it’s shown during games. He’s likely played his way back onto the roster after two preseason appearances. Aaron Rodgers likely won’t play Friday, leaving abundant snaps for the backups. Can Hundley keep trending in the right direction and hold off DeShone Kizer for the backup job? If Kizer manages to jump Hundley over the next two weeks, there’d be no sense in keeping both on the initial roster.
I doubt Moore is legitimately on the roster bubble. He’s too physically talented for a few drops to threaten his spot, especially within a position group in desperate need of developing the next wave of young, productive pass-catchers for Aaron Rodgers. Still, it would be encouraging for Moore to rebound from two frustrating nights at Lambeau Field and make a big play or two against the Raiders. He needs the confidence boost. Like Rodgers said earlier this week, it might just take one big catch to ignite’s Moore rookie season.
The converted receiver is starting to come on as a legitimate competitor for a roster spot at tight end. He made a twisting touchdown catch on a back-shoulder throw and later sprung wide open over the middle for a big gain against the Steelers last Thursday night. He’s also improving as a blocker, which he credits to the daily teachings of veteran Marcedes Lewis. Is he competing with Lance Kendricks for one roster spot, or would the Packers keep four tight ends? Athletic tight ends with ability in the passing game are worth developing.
Justin McCray looks locked in as the starter at right guard, and veteran Byron Bell is starting to gain a foothold as a versatile backup with guard and tackle experience. In Oakland, Patrick can take a big step toward winning a roster spot by handling his business as a second-team guard and proving capable and reliable at center, a spot he’s been cross-trained at during practices this week. Clearly, the Packers want to give him every opportunity to create extra versatility along the offensive line.
Ahmad Thomas has played well in each of the first two preseason games and now looks like a good bet to make the 53-man roster. Martini is still in a decent position to grab a spot as the fourth inside linebacker. While a mainstay on top special teams units, he remains a work in progress as a defender. The former Notre Dame star found himself in good positions against the Steelers but struggled to finish plays, missing two tackles in the open field. Martini needs a cleaner performance in Oakland on Friday night.
Like Moore, Biegel likely isn’t in serious danger of being cut. He’s essentially a rookie going through his first full training camp and preseason. Still, the Packers need more from the former Badger. A lot more. He doesn’t currently have a go-to trait; He isn’t fast or quick enough to consistently win around the corner or strong enough to go through NFL offensive tackles. Seeing him win a pass-rushing snap or two would provide some much-needed evidence of development. It might even be worth giving him a handful of snaps at inside linebacker.
It’s been a quiet summer for Pipkins, who flashed ability in coverage and run support during limited opportunities last season. He’s no better than sixth on the current cornerback depth chart, and he might lack the necessary versatility and production on special teams to win a roster spot. Can he flash some of the playmaking ability he showed last year and prove valuable enough as a developmental cornerback to beat out the likes of Josh Hawkins and Demetri Goodson and stick around to start 2018? The Packers wouldn’t mind if he became the Reggie Gilbert of the cornerback group.
These final two preseason games are vital for Rollins. He had a disastrous debut against the Titans but bounced back and provided a couple of nice punt returns last Thursday night. The former second-round pick is working at a variety of positions and can fill a number of roles, and it appears the Packers have become increasingly more comfortable giving him snaps at safety, which might be his most natural position. A big finish over the final two games could be enough for Rollins to bump a player like Marwin Evans off the roster.