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Packers will focus on players who earned a roster spot

Tight end, receiver will be among the tough calls in next 24 hours


GREEN BAY – As the Packers make some difficult roster decisions over the next 24 hours, there's no set number of how many players will be kept at each position.

Some of the final calls will come down to, simply, who deserves a spot, no matter what position they play.

"You want players that earned being on that 53," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday, with the roster cut-down deadline only a day away. "That can be a tough locker room to walk into, particularly if the individual player doesn't think he earned the 53 spot. We've had that experience here and we've learned from the past."

There are certain to be some close calls on the offensive perimeter, with a deep group of tight ends and several young wide receivers all in the mix.

At tight end, veterans Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis and Lance Kendricks give the Packers more experience than they've ever had at the position under McCarthy, but up-and-coming players like Robert Tonyan and Emanuel Byrd had impressive moments in camp and the preseason games.

"It's nice having veteran tight ends, the flexibility it gives you," McCarthy said. "You look at all three of those guys, they get you in and out of different personnel groups and they all bring a different skill set.

"But we have young guys we're excited about, too. They're going to be part of the tough decisions we have to make."

At receiver, Geronimo Allison locked down the No. 3 spot behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, but after that, there's a lot of unproven talent that went through ups and downs throughout the past month.

Jake Kumerow impressed early but missed the last two preseason games with a shoulder injury. The three rookie draft picks all had their moments but still have a long way to go, and once the roster decisions are made, it's about putting players on the field to win games.

"Projection is part of the evaluation, every team goes through that," McCarthy said. "The wide receiver position is no different. But when the players come here Monday, we're going to have a game plan for Chicago to go win. We have to get started."

As for Allison, McCarthy is excited about what he can bring to the passing game in his third season, regardless of how the other roster decisions at receiver shake out.

"G-mo has a great work ethic, he's tougher than nails. He battled an injury the beginning of camp and never missed a day," McCarthy said. "I thought he had a very, very consistent (camp). He's just a heck of a football player and so passionate about the game."

All the pass catchers will be working with Aaron Rodgers for the foreseeable with the two-time MVP quarterback signing a contract extension this past week.

Rodgers is under contract through the age of 40, and he's stated a desire to actually play longer than that, a goal McCarthy can see him achieving.

"I think it's very realistic," McCarthy said. "Just look at his path, particularly the way he trains. Just look at him physically, he's at the peak right now, the way he moves. I think he's in the best shape of his career."

The other focus in the decision-making process will be the 10-player practice squad, which McCarthy said can be just as tough if not tougher to work through.

The decisions are not glossed over by any means because history shows those players can end up being needed in games down the road during a long season.

"You have 90 to get to 63, that's what I'm looking at," McCarthy said. "These guys are all part of the journey, and it takes so many to get through the season."

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