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Final roster decisions won't be easy for Packers

New GM Brian Gutekunst will be selecting his first 53


GREEN BAY – With the roster cut-down looming on Saturday, new Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst knows some tough decisions await.

"I think we have more than 53 players that are viable players in the NFL," Gutekunst said on Monday.

That certainly beats the alternative for a GM selecting his first roster, but those final tough calls bring a lot of factors into consideration.

Who else might be available around the league to be claimed on waivers? Which players do the Packers want to bring back to their 10-man practice squad? Which players might not get to the practice squad because they'll be claimed by other teams?

All those issues are being studied by Gutekunst and the personnel department heading into the final preseason game Thursday night in Kansas City.

"You want to make sure you have a handle on your team more than anything," he said. "We have one more preseason game and a couple practices here that are important, so we'll continue that evaluation part of your own team.

"And then we're really working hard on the rest of the league, studying those teams to see if there's anything that can help us. But we just really try to get to know our team first and make sure we're not making any mistakes there."

The Packers have the players they release meet with members of both the personnel and coaching staffs before they're let go. It's a respectful yet hard process. Former GM Ted Thompson often said it was his least favorite part of the job, and Gutekunst seems to feel no differently.

"It's always difficult," he said. "The thing Ted always strived for and we'll try to keep remembering as we're going through is to do what's right for the team. They are difficult decisions, but that's our job."

Injuries can complicate matters as well. For example, heading into the final week, receiver Trevor Davis has been out for an extended time with a hamstring injury, while backup offensive tackle Kyle Murphy is now dealing with an ankle injury that is still being evaluated. Running back Devante Mays also has been out since the first week of camp with a hamstring injury.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he's hoping to get Davis back on the field this week, and he said there was a chance for Mays as well.

Unfortunately, Monday's final public practice will not be open to the public due to the rainy weather. Regular-season practices, which begin next week, are closed.

"I am disappointed. It's a tradition for our players to thank the fans, but the weather is going to push us inside today," McCarthy said. "They never disappoint. We have the best training environment. It's refreshing to go down there every day and have a full house with great enthusiasm. It's unfortunate we won't be able to say the traditional goodbye to our great fans."