The Green Bay Packers have set their initial practice squad one day after final cuts were made and the players released on the final cutdown cleared waivers.
Each NFL team can keep up to 16 players on the practice squad and those players can be elevated to the team’s active roster three times before they have to be placed on the 53-man roster permanently.
Here is a look at the players the Packers signed to the practice squad and what role they are likely to play this season and why the team added them to the practice squad.
Safety Micah Abernathy was waived on Tuesday with the intention of adding him to the practice squad but that cannot be announced until he clears waivers which is why the team has an open spot on the practice squad right now.
QB Danny Etling
Etling showed his athleticism in the preseason and made some exciting plays both with his arm and especially running the football.
Etling will be the scout team quarterback and be ready to be the backup if injuries strike either Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love.
RB Tyler Goodson
Goodson led the Packers in rushing yards during the preseason and showed excellent burst and good receiving skills as well.
The Packers chose to keep only two running backs on the active roster so Goodson will have a good chance to be elevated for some of the early-season games for depth until Kylin Hill is activated off the PUP list.
RB Patrick Taylor
Taylor is the better pass blocker and among the two running backs and he has more experience and is more valuable on special teams. Either he or Goodson have a good chance to be elevated from the practice squad until Hill returns to the active roster. Each player can be elevated three times before teams have to add them to the 53-man roster which means the Pack would be covered for the first six games between Goodson and Taylor.
WR Travis Fulgham
Fulgham gives the Packers an experienced wide receiver they can elevate if their young wideouts are struggling or if injuries strike this position group. He has also played 58 snaps on special teams over parts of three NFL seasons.
He has 38 career NFL catches and four touchdowns with all of them coming with the Eagles in 2020.
WR Juwann Winfree
Many people were surprised when the Packers cut Winfree who received repeated praise from quarterback Aaron Rodgers throughout the preseason. Winfree is precise in his route running but in each of the last two seasons with the Packers, he has struggled to produce in the regular season after having strong training camps and preseasons. This may be his final test to see if he can be more productive when it counts.
His experience, connection with Rodgers and his ability to contribute on special teams will make him an asset to the practice squad.
OT Caleb Jones
Despite the concerns a team may claim the big offensive tackle, he cleared waivers and joined the Packers practice squad. Jones showed promise in the preseason although he is a project.
At 6’9” and 370 pounds, Jones would be the largest player in Packers history if he gets elevated to the active roster at any point this season. He needs to improve his footwork and technique, but his size and strength give him a chance to have a role on the roster in the future.
DL Jack Heflin
Heflin had a great preseason and looked like an active and talented run stopper. He made the active roster last season but the added depth along the defensive line made Heflin a long shot to make the roster again.
Many observers were surprised that draft pick Jonathan Ford made the roster ahead of Heflin as Ford showed very little spark in the preseason.
Look for Heflin to be a potential candidate for elevation if the Pack needs a run stopping defensive lineman.
DL Chris Slayton
If Heflin is the run stopping defensive lineman on the practice squad, Slayton is the defensive lineman who can add juice to the pass rush. Slayton was expected to be a camp body but his strong play in both training camp and preseason games earned him a spot on the practice squad.
OLB La’Darius Hamilton
The Packers depth at edge rusher is suspect and there was little difference between Hamilton and the players that made the roster like Tipa Galeai and Jonathan Garvin. If either of those two fails to play well, Hamilton could be added to the 53-man roster at some point in the season.
OLB Kobe Jones
Jones flashed pass rush ability during the preseason and had eight total tackles and one sack in three games. The former Mississippi State star will provide the Packers with insurance at edge rusher and will get a chance to show the coaching staff he can give them more juice off the edge in practice.
ILB Ray Wilborn
Wilborn spent the 2020 season on the Steelers practice squad and the 2021 season on the Packers practice squad. He has yet to appear in a regular-season NFL game. The former Ball State star gives the Packers a fifth option at ILB although the top four look set ahead of him. His best chance to be elevated to the roster besides an injury would be his ability to contribute on special teams.
CB Rico Gafford
Gafford was converted back to CB after playing wide receiver with the Raiders. His speed and experience give him an edge and he should be able to help on special teams if he is elevated or activated to the roster.
At 26, he is running out of time to get his NFL career to the next level.
CB Kiondre Thomas
Thomas played four games for the Chargers last year. He looked good in training camp and had some good preseason games as well but the Packers only kept five cornerbacks on the active roster although they put three on the practice squad.
Thomas can help on special teams, in fact all his game action with the Chargers came in that phase of the game.
CB Benjie Franklin
Franklin is the only player on the Packers practice squad who was not on the Packers roster at all during training camp or the preseason. The Jaguars let go the former Tarleton State star after he spent training camp with that organization.
At 6’ and 185 pounds, Franklin had eight interceptions in three seasons in college. He has great speed and can contribute on special teams.
K Ramiz Ahmed
The Packers activated veteran Mason Crosby off the PUP list and expect him to be ready for Week 1 against the Vikings. If he’s not, Ahmed will be available for kicking duties.
Ahmed was signed after the first preseason game and was perfect in the final two contests on both field goals and extra points.
If he continues to kick well, the Packers could keep him as a potential heir apparent to Crosby.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
Click here for more great Packers coverage