5 takeaways from Packers' roster decisions

Offensive line will be waiting several weeks to get David Bakhtiari back

T David Bakhtiari

GREEN BAY – The Packers cut the roster to 52 players Tuesday, one under the league-mandated 53.

Here are five takeaways from their decisions:

1. The earliest David Bakhtiari will be back is late October.

The All-Pro left tackle is beginning the regular season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), which means he's out for at least the first six weeks and he cannot practice during that time. He'll be first eligible to be activated and hit the practice field following the game at Chicago on Oct. 17.

How soon Bakhtiari will return to the starting lineup after that is unknown. Having spent all of the offseason and training camp rehabbing from ACL surgery, with that rehab now continuing, it's hard to imagine Bakhtiari being ready to play in a game with just one week of practice. So while the first game he could possibly play in is against Washington on Oct. 24, it doesn't mean he will.

So the Packers' left tackle for upwards of the first half of the season will be Elgton Jenkins, who has worked at that spot with the No. 1 offensive line during all of the 2021 preparation thus far.

2. The call on the No. 3 running back was clear-cut.

Rookie seventh-round pick Kylin Hill won the job in convincing fashion, as the Packers chose not to keep a fourth running back on the roster, with Patrick Taylor and Dexter Williams both being released.

How much playing time Hill will get behind Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon remains uncertain, but the team's last draft pick in 2021 will now be the first one to step in if either of the top two backs goes down.

Hill finished the preseason with 104 yards from scrimmage (64 rushing, 40 receiving) and two touchdowns (one each).

3. Never count out late arrivals to training camp, nor assume competitions are over.

Not every late arrival made it, but three players who arrived after camp was underway – offensive tackle Dennis Kelly, linebacker Chauncey Rivers and cornerback Isaac Yiadom – did.

Kelly was signed during the first week of camp, Rivers was claimed off waivers right before Family Night, and Yiadom arrived via trade after the first preseason game.

Also, the punter competition obviously did not end when Ryan Winslow was released in mid-August. Any players at anytime, particularly specialists, can be competing with others around the league who play their position, which turned out to be the case as the Packers moved on from punter JK Scott.

4. Underdog stories are alive and well in Green Bay.

Even though only one undrafted rookie – defensive lineman Jack Heflin – survived final cuts, there are a total of 12 undrafted players on the initial roster. That's more than 20% of the team.

The undrafted dozen are: receivers Allen Lazard and Malik Taylor, tight ends Robert Tonyan and Dominique Dafney, offensive linemen Lucas Patrick and Yosh Nijman, defensive linemen Tyler Lancaster and Heflin, linebackers Krys Barnes and Rivers, and defensive backs Chandon Sullivan and Henry Black.

5. The roster could change as soon as tomorrow.

One spot remains open, and it will be filled at some point with a punter. Also, waiver claims are going on league-wide, and if the Packers claim any players, room will have to be made for them by making corresponding roster moves. That could include releasing additional players or placing players on injured reserve, which would make them eligible to return later in the season because they were on the initial 53.

After the waiver claim period, teams can begin signing players to their practice squads, which have a limit of 16 for 2021. The Packers plan to have their practice-squad players practice with the team on Wednesday.

The Packers will need a third quarterback in the building, so if Kurt Benkert doesn't clear waivers and can't be brought back on the practice squad, it'll be someone new in the QB room.

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