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With 50 on Roster, Packers Have Room to Add Three

Who likely will be added to the Green Bay Packers' roster in time for Thursday's game at the Arizona Cardinals? And who likely will remain on the sideline?
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers packed a 50-man roster for their cross-country trip to Arizona for a Thursday night showdown at the Arizona Cardinals.

That means the Packers can add three players to the roster. General manager Brian Gutekunst can tinker with the roster until 3 p.m. Thursday – or 4 hours, 20 minutes before kickoff.

Here are the activation options, broken into tiers.

Likely Additions

Tight end Dominique Dafney: A versatile player, he played 29 snaps in Week 2 vs. Detroit but suffered a hip injury at practice the following week. After a stint on injured reserve, he’s practiced the last three weeks and should be in the lineup for Thursday. An adept receiver who looked at home at fullback before the injury, he could have a decent role vs. the Cardinals.

“We all want to start and we all want to catch touchdowns, but, first and foremost, I want to win,” he said in September. “If me having to block 300-pound dudes who are 6-8, 6-9 with extremely long arms and that’s what I have to do so we can win, then I’m going to do it because I love winning. Whatever I have to do to be a part of this team and win, then I’m going to do it.”

Receiver Juwann Winfree: This will be as a gameday elevation from the practice squad. The Packers protected him on the practice squad this week so he couldn’t be poached by another team. A sixth-round pick by Denver in 2019, he had put himself in position to win a spot on the 53-man roster until a shoulder injury sidelined him for the three preseason games.

Winfree played two snaps vs. Chicago in Week 6. Officially, he was a COVID replacement for that game and would be for this game. That’s important. By rule, players can only be elevated from the practice squad twice. The third time, as was the case with Equanimeous St. Brown, it means a ticket to the 53-man roster. Those rules don’t apply to COVID replacements.

With the likelihood that the Packers will be without Adams, Lazard and Valdes-Scantling, Winfree might not just play. He might play a lot.

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“He’s a guy that we’ve got a lot of confidence in,” LaFleur said.

Offensive lineman Ben Braden: Braden was a COVID elevation last week, too. With center Josh Myers sent to IR and veteran offensive tackle Dennis Kelly (back) doubtful, Braden could join Yosh Nijman and Jake Hanson as the backups for the second consecutive week.

Receiver Malik Taylor: He was activated from the COVID-19 list on Tuesday but isn’t on the 53-man roster. Officially, following a two-week layoff, he’s on the Exempt/COVID-19 list. There is a good chance that will change today, with Taylor returning to the 53. He caught two passes for 14 yards in the opener and had become a capable gunner on special teams. “We’ll try to ramp him up and see where he’s at,” LaFleur said. “He hasn’t been around for a while. We’ve just got to see where he’s at.”

Likely Out

Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Valdes-Scantling spent the last four weeks on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He hasn’t practiced, meaning his last time on the field doing anything competitive was the Week 3 game at San Francisco in which he scored a touchdown.

With Davante Adams and Allen Lazard on the COVID-19 list, a source said Valdes-Scantling wants to play and help the team in a big game. The team is weighing its need for playmakers with the reality that players – even veterans – need to practice. The conservative approach appears to have won out, with the hope a full-strength receiving corps will hit the field for Kansas City.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari: The All-Pro practiced three times last week, his first time on the practice field since suffering a torn ACL on New Year’s Eve. Had this game been scheduled for Sunday and he could have practiced three more times this week, he might have been activated for this game. Instead, the short turnaround with a Thursday game meant the team didn’t hold a full practice this week. It’s incredibly difficult to believe one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL – not to mention one of the highest-paid offensive linemen in the NFL – will return this week from a 10-month layoff without getting a competitive practice.

“I think everything is up in the air with him,” coach Matt LaFleur said on Tuesday. “I said a long time ago it’ll be day to day. The last thing we want to go is put him at further risk. He’s coming off a really significant injury. He looks great. He’s worked his tail off. He’s put a lot of hours in. We just want to make sure the timing’s right.”

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Worth remembering: With Bakhtiari and Adams presumably coming back soon and with most of Thursday’s inactives list going to healthy scratches, there’s not a dire need to bolster the roster, only to be forced to get rid of a couple players to get back down to 53. So, Green Bay could activate Dafney and Taylor to get to 52.


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