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5 things to know about the Packers' roster decisions

2020 team takes shape following Saturday’s roster reduction

WR Malik Taylor
WR Malik Taylor

GREEN BAY – The Packers reduced their roster to the mandatory 53-player limit on Saturday afternoon. Here are five things to know about Green Bay's roster decisions:

1. Head Coach Matt LaFleur's influence continues to shape the roster.

There has been an evolution on both sides of the ball during LaFleur's first 20 months in Green Bay and that shift can be seen with the current makeup of the team.

Twenty-nine of the 53 players the Packers carried through Saturday's mandatory cuts arrived in Green Bay after LaFleur was hired in January 2019. Meanwhile, only 13 players predate third-year general manager Brian Gutekunst.

Offensively, the Packers' push to further enhance their run and play-action game is reflected in keeping four running backs (including gadget player/returner Tyler Ervin) and four tight ends for the second consecutive year.

Technically, the Packers will enter the season without a fullback on the roster for the second time in three seasons following the release of John Lovett. However, versatile third-round pick Josiah Deguara was drafted in part because of his ability to play the H-back position.

2. Wide receiver Malik Taylor makes it.

Every summer, there seems to be one player who comes out of relative obscurity to make the Packers' active roster. This year, that distinction belongs to Taylor, an undrafted receiver.

The former Ferris State standout was one of the most targeted skill-position players throughout training camp. Taylor was responsible for arguably the biggest play during last Sunday's padded practice inside Lambeau Field, catching a pass near the sideline from Tim Boyle and turning upfield for a 45-yard TD.

A native of Flint, Mich., Taylor chose to stay in-state and play at Division II Ferris State in nearby Big Rapids. Coming off a promising junior campaign in 2017, the 6-foot-2, 216-pounder hoped to gain the attention of NFL scouts before sustaining a hamstring injury that hampered him throughout his senior year.

Taylor caught on with Tampa Bay as a college free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft but was released three days later. He signed with Green Bay on the eve of training camp last July and spent his entire rookie season on the team's practice squad.

"Obviously, they saw something in me. Thank God," said Taylor this past week. "I'm glad that I landed here. Last year, it was a big thing for me to come into the NFL, obviously from a D-II school. Just the mindset you have to have and all the extra things that come with this league."

Taylor clocked a 4.48-second time in the 40 at Central Michigan's 2019 pro day, with a 36-inch vertical, 10-6 broad jump and a 6.81 in the three-cone drill.

Taylor is one of nine players on the 53-man roster who previously spent time on the Packers' practice squad (Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan, Lucas Patrick, Yosh Nijman, Tyler Lancaster, Randy Ramsey, Kabion Ento and Will Redmond are the others).

See headshots and action shots of the complete Green Bay Packers 2020 roster. #BuildingOurTeam

3. There were tough calls on the offensive line.

The Packers carried nine offensive linemen on their initial 53-man roster, settling on guard/center Lucas Patrick, second-year tackle Yosh Nijman and rookie sixth-round pick Jon Runyan to back up their starting unit.

The team hasn't announced who will start at right tackle for the regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Veterans Billy Turner and Rick Wagner were battling for the job prior to Turner sustaining an undisclosed injury in practice last Sunday.

To get to 53, the Packers parted ways with third-year swing tackle Alex Light, rookie sixth-round pick Jake Hanson and John Leglue, who finished last season on the active roster.

One thing to keep in mind this season is the expansion of the game-day roster under the new collective bargaining agreement. Teams now are permitted to dress 48 players (instead of 46) as long as they have eight active offensive linemen.

4. The Packers made moves with the future in mind.

The Packers preached patience with their rookies throughout the spring and summer, and stayed true to that stance in keeping all nine of their draft picks.

While Green Bay parted with Hanson, the team retained its other eight draft picks. Seven will start on the initial 53 and sixth-round pick Simon Stepaniak will remain on the non-football injury list, due to his ACL injury from last December occurring in college.

The Packers enter the 2020 season with 15 of their 17 draft picks under contract from the past two drafts.

"We're pretty fortunate, I thought Gutey and the scouting department did a good job of making sure that we get guys in here that are intelligent, they're able to pick it up quickly," said LaFleur last month. "Unfortunately it was what it was with the offseason, but we're going to count on his guys throughout the course of the season to come in and play a big part in what we do."

5. There's still a lot of work to be done before the opener in Minnesota.

One of the most popular sayings in all of football is it's not the final 53 – it's the first 53.

There will be a lot of moving parts in the coming days across the NFL. Starting Sunday, teams are allowed to place players on injured reserve in order to be designated to return later in the season. To be eligible, injured players had to be carried through the cut to 53.

Teams can submit waiver claims on players who were released through 11 a.m. CT Sunday. Once the waiver period ends, teams are permitted to begin assembling their 16-player practice squads at 12 p.m. CT.


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