GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers hit the practice field on Wednesday with their practice squad filled with familiar faces.
All 16 players spent training camp with the Packers. Headlining that group: quarterback Kurt Benkert, who cleared waivers.
“Kurt did an outstanding job,” coach Matt LaFleur said before practice. “He’s a pleasure to have in the meeting room. He definitely gels well with Aaron (Rodgers) and Jordan (Love). We’re excited about having him back. I think he’s still a young, developing player. It’s really fun as a coach to watch these guys improve from the day he got here to what he was able to accomplish in the preseason. I thought he’s come a long way and we expect him to continue that upward trajectory.”
Here's the full practice squad:
QB Kurt Benkert
G/T Ben Braden
G/T Cole Van Lanen
G Jacob Capra
RB Patrick Taylor
WR Equanimeous St. Brown
WR Juwann Winfree
WR Chris Blair
TE Bronson Kaufusi
Preston Smith Seems Set to Keep Consecutive-Games Streak Alive
Preston Smith has played in all 102 career regular-season games. After practicing on Friday, he appears ready to keep that streak going.
How to Watch, Stream, Listen to Packers vs. Washington
Sunday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Washington Football Team will be broadcast to most of the nation.
Defensively, Packers Feeling Blue About Yellow in Red Zone
The Green Bay Packers have zero red-zone stops through the first six games. Here's one problem.
DT Abdullah Anderson
DT Willington Previlon
OLB Tipa Galeai
ILB Ray Wilborn
CB Kabion Ento
S Innis Gaines
K JJ Molson
Benkert will be throwing passes to three familiar faces: receivers Equanimeous St. Brown, Juwann Winfree and Chris Blair. St. Brown, a sixth-round pick in 2018, missed the preseason due to injury. Winfree’s strong series of spring practices put him in position to make the roster but a shoulder injury sustained early in camp ruined his chances. Blair missed most of camp with a high ankle sprain.
All three practiced on Wednesday with red jerseys. The quarterbacks also wear red jerseys.
Two other players who seemed worthy of roster spots, safety Innis Gaines and guard/tackle Ben Braden, were brought back, as well.
Braden, an undrafted free agent in 2017, has played only four snaps on offense in four professional seasons – all meaningless snaps at the end of last year’s rout of San Francisco. But he challenged for a starting spot at guard during the first half of camp, then proved to be a capable right tackle during the second half of camp. He played 154 snaps during the preseason and showed his power as a run blocker.
“Did a great job,” Gutekunst said. “We rotated a lot of guys through the interior of our offensive line throughout OTAs to training camp, and very hopeful we get him back here on the practice squad and we can move forward. He did a great job for us. We had a ton of competition there. Settling on those nine was a tough call. We’re excited about that group. I think it’s the most depth we’ve had in a long time.”
Among the other interesting names: Taylor got the spot at running back ahead of Dexter Williams, who signed to the Giants’ practice squad. Van Lanen, a native of nearby Suamico, was the only draft pick not to make the 53. Kaufusi, who is 30, showed promise at tight end after being drafted as a defensive lineman. Anderson was signed on Wednesday but did enough against Buffalo on Saturday to stick around. And Gaines got a practice squad spot over Christian Uphoff. Gaines had opportunities elsewhere but chose to return to Green Bay.
None of the players the Packers released were claimed off waivers by another team. In fact, only 29 players league-wide were claimed.