GREEN BAY – As he stared at the 90 names on the big board on the third floor of Lambeau Field last weekend, Mike McCarthy couldn’t take it.
The Green Bay Packers coach knew cuts were looming – to 75 players by 3 p.m. Tuesday and to 53 players by 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31 – and he realized that, like seemingly every year, it won’t be easy. And entering Friday night’s third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field, entirely too many questions remain unanswered for his liking.
“I really don’t want to sit here and try to pick the team today,” McCarthy replied earlier this week when asked if any of the young wide receiver vying for the fifth (and perhaps sixth) spots on the roster had gotten a leg up. “I started doing that on Sunday a little bit and it’s nerve wracking to me personally.
“We've got to make sure we have enough information on all these players. We don't do lip service to our players – ‘Hey, we're only going to coach the ones we think are going to be here.’ That's not the case. It's very evident from the first day together in the spring, and I feel very confident if you ask each one of the men in that locker room, they feel like they've been given an opportunity.
“Going through the board on Sunday really for the first time (was) to make sure that we're trying to get all these guys opportunities. As you know, we had 17 players miss the first game, 15 miss the second game, so everybody (wasn't) able to play. The third game is really a challenge for a lot of guys to play in. What happens (when) a guy doesn't play in (Friday’s) game? What's going to happen at the 75,? Is he going to get an opportunity in Week 4? That's what I'm trying to avoid.”
As a result, McCarthy suggested on multiple occasions during the week that the game against the Seahawks won’t be the traditional dress rehearsal for the starters the way previous third preseason games have been. With the Sept. 8 regular-season opener at San Francisco 16 days away, McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson not only want their starters to be ready for the 49ers, they also want to make sure the team keeps the right guys as role players and backups.
“You get attached to the guys. They all can’t make it, so it’s a tough time,” Thompson said. “We have different thought processes. No. 1, how do you see the whole thing ending up in terms of the 53? But sometimes we have the thoughts about, how do we play the fourth preseason game? Just substitutions and that sort of thing. You kind of have to work the two.
“I think you always get surprised in training camp and the offseason stuff. Things surprise you. You can kind of look out into the future and think, “This is what’s going to happen, this guy’s going to take over for this guy,’ and it’s sort of fantasy football. And (then) you start playing it for real and it changes. So there are always changes, surprises.”
With that in mind, here’s a subjective look at where the Packers’ roster stands entering Friday night’s game against the Seahawks. Again, the team will have to make 15 roster moves – not necessarily all cuts, as some players can be moved to the in-season physically unable to perform list or injured reserve – by Tuesday afternoon.