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As is the case for this preseason, the Green Bay Packers closed last year’s exhibition slate with a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. An impressive showing on special teams by undrafted rookie inside linebacker James Crawford punched his ticket on the 53-man roster.

The same could happen for any number of bubble players on Thursday night against the Chiefs.

“Yeah, there’s a great opportunity every last preseason game,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said on Tuesday. “Every year that I’ve been here, there’s things that have changed in that last preseason game that have kind of told us one thing or another. Not only for our team, but there’s guys that have done things in that last preseason game that have ended up on other teams just because of their performance. And there’s certainly guys that we’ve gone out and gotten from other teams because of that last preseason game. So, it’s an important game, it’s a chance for our younger players to play more significantly than they have in the other games. So, it’ll factor in for sure.”

The roster must be trimmed to 53 players by 3 p.m. Saturday. That’s about 39 hours after time expires on Thursday night. Saturday’s roster won’t necessarily be the “final” roster. Because of some procedural moves, this projection is about the roster the team will take to the practice field on Sunday. (If you missed last week's, click here.)


Who makes it (3): Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle.

Who does not: Manny Wilkins.

Change from last week: None.

Reasoning: The Packers could go with Kizer or Boyle as the lone backup to Rodgers and put Wilkins on the practice squad as an unofficial third quarterback. To me, Rodgers’ injury history is hard to ignore. What happens if Rodgers were to suffer a significant injury and then the lone backup got hurt? Boyle should have the edge based on his three-touchdown performance vs. the Raiders but quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy said he'd be crazy to ignore the work on the practice field against Green Bay's potentially storng defense. “Obviously, Tim had a really good night,” Gutekunst said. “He had an opportunity to run with a different group than he had before and he did a really nice job. I think it’s really close. I think both guys have done a good job. They’ve both progressed, they’ve both gotten better. Again, they’re young, improving quarterbacks and this will be another step Thursday night.”


Who makes it (4): RB Aaron Jones, RB Jamaal Williams, RB Tra Carson, FB Danny Vitale.

Who does not: RB Dexter Williams, RB Keith Ford, FB Malcolm Johnson, FB Tommy Bohanon.

Change from last week: None.

Reasoning: Really, nothing has changed in the race to be the No. 3 back – a potentially key role with Jones playing in only three-fourths of the games in his career. Will it be Carson, who has flashed the better all-around game but lacks a burst as a runner? Will it be Williams, a sixth-round pick who has shown an explosive running ability but has struggled in the passing game? “He’s got some dynamic stuff to him,” Gutekunst said. Will it be Ford, who has flashed a bit in his limited practices since joining the team on Aug. 6? Of Carson’s 56 rushing yards, 52 have come after contact by our count, so it’s not as if he’s been benefitted from any blocking whatsoever. He’s shown he can catch on the practice field and block in the games. If there’s one roster spot that can be won solely based on Thursday’s game, this is it.


Who makes it (6): Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard, Trevor Davis.

Who does not: Equanimeous St. Brown (injured reserve), Darrius Shepherd, J’Mon Moore, Malik Taylor, Teo Redding.

Change from last week: St. Brown (IR).

Reasoning: Some of the intrigue in this battle disappeared when St. Brown was carted off the field with an ankle injury against Oakland. He’ll be out about six weeks, making him a candidate to go on short-term injured reserve. To be recalled from IR, a player must be on Saturday’s 53-man roster before going to injured reserve on Sunday, so this projection is about Sunday’s roster. Davis seemingly won a job against the Raiders by cranking out explosive plays as a receiver, returner and runner. Shepherd has done enough to win a job but, considering a total of 101 receivers were gobbled up on draft weekend and Shepherd was not among them, it’s hard to imagine the Packers couldn’t get him on the practice squad. So, releasing Shepherd could be a strategic roll of the dice by Gutekunst. As I pointed out last week, receiver is a dime-a-dozen position. Lazard’s 6-foot-5, 227-pound frame is relatively unique, so he makes it despite the concussion sustained against the Raiders. Shepherd, at 5-foot-10, is not unique at all from a physical skills standpoint.


Who makes it (4): Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger.

Who does not: Evan Baylis, Pharoah McKever.

Change from last week: None.

Reasoning: It’s almost impossible to see this shaking out any other way. Before injuring a finger last week, Graham was having a strong training camp. The coaches have raved about the up-and-coming Tonyan since the spring. Lewis hasn’t done much but in an offense that will be built around the running game, he is the only proven blocker. “I think bringing ‘Big Dog’ back has really given us a great option as a blocking tight end, but he can really do a lot more,” Rodgers said. “I’m going to brag on him a little bit. He’s really transformed his body. He looks leaner, stronger and he’s running well.” Sternberger hasn’t done anything in camp, due in part to the concussion suffered in a joint practice against Houston, but he was a third-round draft pick and isn’t going anywhere.


Who makes it (8): LT David Bakhtiari, LG Elgton Jenkins, C Corey Linsley, RG Billy Turner, RT Bryan Bulaga, OT Alex Light, G/C Justin McCray, G/C Lucas Patrick.

Who does not: G Lane Taylor, G Cole Madison, G Anthony Coyle, T Gerhard de Beer, T/G Adam Pankey, T Yosh Nijman.

Change from last week: None.

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Reasoning: Mum's the word when it comes to the battle at left guard between Taylor and Jenkins. Reporters were escored off the field before any live reps the last four training camp practices, and coach Matt LaFleur chose to keep both on the sideline for the Winnipeg game. Taylor very well could be the Week 1 starter but I’m going to stubbornly stick to my guns on Taylor not making the team, a stance I’ve held since the draft. After all, the Packers used a second-round pick on Jenkins. They might as well play him, with the hope being that a bunch of game experience will accelerate his growth. Taylor is a legit NFL starter who doesn’t seem too out of place in a zone-blocking scheme. However, teams simply are reluctant to keep $3.1 million backups (a figure that includes weekly roster bonuses), especially if they can get a useful piece in return. There should be a trade market for a player making $2.6 million in 2019 and $3.8 million in 2020. There are two gambles here, though. The first is that Jenkins will be a better player in, say, Week 9 than Taylor. The second is Patrick/McCray will be able to step in at right guard should Turner have to replace an injured Bulaga at right tackle. While Light has gotten better and better throughout camp, if a quality offensive tackle pops free on Saturday, the Packers no doubt would be interested. Madison, a fifth-round pick last year, and Nijman, an undrafted rookie with excellent athleticism, should be easy practice-squad stashes.


Who makes it (5): Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, Tyler Lancaster, Kingsley Keke.

Who does not: Fadol Brown, James Looney, Deon Simon, Olive Sagapolu.

Change from last week: None.

Reasoning: If Brown turns in a strong performance vs. the Chiefs, I could see him sticking around. He made some plays last year as a late-season addition and was heavily involved in the defense until suffering a calf injury that kept him out of the first three preseason games. His ability to play inside and outside fits defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme. However, outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary will be part of the defensive line mix, as well, so is there any point in keeping six at this spot? Lancaster’s run-stopping prowess and Keke’s explosion off the ball should provide strong situational depth. Lancaster sweated through final cuts last season before getting the bad news. It should be a stress-free day this time.


Who makes it (5): Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Kyler Fackrell, Reggie Gilbert.

Who does not: Randy Ramsey, Greg Roberts, Markus Jones, James Folston.

Change from last week: None.

Reasoning: With Gary and, especially, Za’Darius Smith moonlighting as interior rushers on third-and-long, it’s probably a necessity to keep at least five. While Fackrell had the breakout season with 10.5 sacks last season, Gilbert actually had as many pressures with 21, according to Pro Football Focus. That track record should be enough, even as he battles a knee injury that could sideline him into the season. Ramsey had a chance to supplant Gilbert against the Raiders last week but didn’t get it done. Ramsey's athleticism – and, therefore, upside – is easy to see. The Packers guaranteed $70,000 of Roberts’ salary – it’s unheard of for the Packers to do that with an undrafted rookie – but he’s been sidelined for months with a core-muscle injury. Jones put up staggering numbers at Division II Angelo State and has applied some pressure in the games. Between Ramsey, Roberts and Jones, there’s some talent to develop at a position group that’s the lifeblood of a 3-4 scheme.


Who makes it (4): Blake Martinez, Oren Burks, James Crawford, TBA.

Who does not: Curtis Bolton, Ty Summers, Brady Sheldon.

Change from last week: Burks avoids IR while Bolton goes on IR.

Reasoning: Burks has avoided surgery on a partially torn pectoral muscle and shouldn’t miss too much of the regular season. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Packers have to find some veteran depth, because Crawford has played one regular-season defensive snap and Crawford and Summers haven’t played any. So, as was the case with the projection at receiver, this projection is about Sunday’s roster. At least Martinez, who knows the defense inside and out, will be stationed right next to the new linebacker and can help him with his assignments. Summers could make it with a second consecutive game with a lot of tackles and not many missed tackles; he had eight tackles and zero misses against the Raiders.


Who makes it (7): Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Tramon Williams, Josh Jackson, Tony Brown, Ka’Dar Hollman, Chandon Sullivan.

Who does not: Kabion Ento, Nydair Rouse, Jackson Porter, Jocquez Kalili.

Change from last week: Sullivan makes it.

Reasoning: King missed the final 11 practices of training camp and won’t play in the preseason with a hamstring injury. He’s in no danger of not making the team but the team’s patience has to be running short. Jackson missed the first 11 practices of camp and has been slow to make an impact upon his return. The Packers have been doomed by a lack of cornerback depth the past three seasons but Brown has been the biggest surprise of training camp and Hollman has earned rave reviews since the spring. Of 184 cornerbacks with at least 25 coverage snaps this preseason, Hollman ranks seventh with 0.14 yards allowed per coverage snap, according to Pro Football Focus. Sullivan leads the NFL with five passes defensed in the preseason and can play safety, too. The undrafted Ento, an unproductive receiver at Colorado, made a few eye-popping pass breakups before suffering a hamstring injury that will wind up keeping him out of the final three preseason games. His talent is worth grooming.


Who makes it (4): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Raven Greene, Will Redmond.

Who does not: Ibraheim Campbell, Natrell Jamerson, Tray Matthews.

Change from last week: Redmond makes it and Campbell stays on PUP.

Reasoning: The signing of Campbell solidified this week’s release of Josh Jones. However, he didn’t practice this week. If he stays on PUP, he’ll have to sit out at least the first six weeks of the season. Redmond and Jamerson can play cornerback, slot and safety; Redmond has outplayed Jamerson. Keep an eye on Matthews, who has played well in the games.


Who makes it (3): K Mason Crosby, P JK Scott, LS Hunter Bradley.

Who does not: K Sam Ficken.

Change from last week: None.

Reasoning: Before LaFleur closed all but the opening periods of the final four training camp practices, Ficken was 34-of-42 (81.0 percent) on field goals while Crosby was 16-of-17 (94.1 percent). “Mason has been a premier kicker in this league for a long time,” Gutekunst said. “Obviously, he's handled this stadium and this weather and you can't ignore that stuff.” That doesn’t mean Crosby is in the clear, though. His cap charge of $4.85 million makes him the most-expensive kicker in the NFL. Coming off a poor season and with changes at coach and special-teams coordinator, Crosby doesn’t have much of a safety net. The same is true for Bradley, who hasn’t had any awful snaps in camp but hasn’t always been on the money.