The Green Bay Packers have 14 roster newcomers for the 2012-13 NFL season. Five of those players are undrafted free agents who have never been on the active roster (training camp excluded). Four of those players were undrafted free agents in 2012.
Packers enthusiasts, let's welcome the newcomers to the active roster. Please note that I haven't included Graham Harrell. Harrell has technically spent seven games on the active roster.
Cedric Benson (RB)
The Packers didn't have a durable running back. James Starks, Brandon Saine and Alex Green are all injury prone. Starks suffered a turf-toe injury in the first preseason game. Green is coming off major knee surgery. Saine didn't play this preseason.
At 29-years-old, Benson wants to prove that he still belongs in the NFL. He has a golden opportunity in Green Bay. The Packers could really benefit from having him when the weather worsens in December.
Jarrett Boykin (WR)
The Packers already had one of the NFL's deepest depth charts at wide receiver. Having an effective No. 6 wide receiver would be icing on the cake. Tori Gurley, Diondre Borel, Jarrett Boykin and Dale Moss were all fighting for that roster spot. Boykin won it with an impressive preseason that included 13 receptions for 166 yards with one touchdown.
Jeff Saturday, Don Barclay (OL)
The Packers head into the season with seven offensive linemen. Don Barclay joins Evan Dietrich-Smith as the only reserve offensive linemen on the roster. Barclay was an undrafted free agent from West Virginia University. The Packers signed Andrew Datko and Greg Van Roten to their practice squad.
Jeff Saturday will replace Scott Wells. The Packers are confident that the 37-year-old center will provide stability in the interior of an offensive line that already includes Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang.
Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels, Phillip Merling (DL)
The Packers added three new bodies to their rotation of defensive linemen. They drafted Jerel Worthy in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. They used a fourth-round pick on Mike Daniels. The Packers also took a low-risk gamble on Phillip Merling. Jarius Wynn and Howard Green were released.
Nick Perry, Terrell Manning, Dezman Moses (LB)
The Packers need immediate contributions from first-round pick Nick Perry. Perry will play outside linebacker opposite of Clay Matthews in the 3-4 defense. Opponents were focusing on Matthews in 2011. That was because there wasn't an effective pass-rush specialist on the opposite side.
Hopefully, Perry is a quick learner who can stay healthy.
Casey Hayward, Brandian Ross (CB)
Brandian Ross may be the biggest surprise to make the 53-man roster. The Packers already have five cornerbacks with Tramon Williams, Jarrett Bush, Casey Hayward, Davon House and Sam Shields. Ross' inclusion makes me wonder if management isn't confident in House's short-term or long-term health.
The Packers head into the season with questions about their No. 2 cornerback (right cornerback). Hayward is one of four players who are fighting for that job. The second-round pick is expected to be a significant contributor on the defense. Hayward has shown play-making potential. However, he has also made some major gaffes that resulted in big-yardage plays. That's just part of the learning process for the rookie.
Jerron McMillian, Sean Richardson (S)
The Packers kept five safeties on their roster. That's surprising when one considers that Jarrett Bush has the versatility to play safety. Jerron McMillian could see some time as the nickel safety. Sean Richardson is another undrafted free agent who made his mark during training camp.
Undrafted Free Agents Making Roster For First Time
Jarrett Boykin (2012)
Don Barclay (2012)
Dezman Moses (2012)
Sean Richardson (2012)
Brandian Ross (2011)
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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