The NFL’s most talented offense showed minimal capacity for new bodies heading into the 2012 season. With that, fans spent the past four months pondering whether there would be room for wide receivers Tori Gurley or Diondre Borel on the 2012 roster. Close to no one predicted that unknown receiver Jarrett Boykin would be the sixth member of the famed Packer wide receiver corps.
Boykin was just one of several surprises by the Packers at the 53-man roster deadline. More stunning may have been the decision to go with only seven offensive linemen on the active roster. As a safety net, the Packers expect a healthy Derek Sherrod by the season’s halfway point and could also add a free agent lineman before Week 1.
Even with the prospect of adding O-line help, the Packers can’t feel good about the protection of Aaron Rodgers should Marshall Newhouse or Bryan Bulaga go down. As of now, versatile lineman T.J. Lang appears to be the swing tackle option, which would leave the interior line exposed. I shiver at the thought of another start like that of 2009.
The understaffed offensive line is a result of keeping extra bodies at running back and tight end. Cedric Benson didn’t show enough in two preseason games to bump a younger name off of the roster. While the extra player is costly to keep on such a talented team, the Packers retain a bright future with Alex Green, James Starks and Brandon Saine.
Second-year tight tend D.J. Williams had a strong camp and forced the coaching staff to keep an extra tight end. Both Williams and the more versatile Ryan Taylor show promise as potential replacements for Jermichael Finley in two years. With improvement as a pass catcher, Tom Crabtree was also retained. Had Andrew Quarless not been forced to the PUP list, Crabtree may have been cut loose.
Overall, fans have to like what the Packers showcase on offense heading into the 2012 season. Success on offense, however, is highly dependent on the health of Aaron Rodgers. Stability on the offensive line and more contribution from the backfield will reduce the chances of Rodgers getting injured and missing significant playing time.