The Green Bay Packers released 18 players, while placing LB Vic So'oto on I.R. (injured on Thursday night) and OL Derek Sherrod on PUP (he could return after week 6), as they trimmed their roster down to 53 players. Some of these released players are likely to return to the practice squad, and some have even been told to wait in town. I'm not really surprised by any of these moves, but there still may be a couple more coming.
The consensus release surprise is WR Tori Gurley, who had a big game against the Chiefs and made Pete Prisco's All-Cut Team. Gurley's a good, young receiver, but his speed his questionable and he only had one strong game this preseason. His biggest problem is that the Packers already have five other receivers who are clearly better than him. That was also a problem for WR Diondre Borel, though he also had a couple passes go through his hands which never wins bonus points with the coaches. I'm surprised WR Jarrett Boykin made the final roster, he looks smaller than his listed 6-2, 218 lbs., but he had a nearly flawless preseason.
Here's a little bit on the other 16 players released:
Offensive line: Shea Allard, Andrew Datko, Tommie Draheim, Sampson Genus, Greg Van Roten, and Reggie Wells. All of those players are eligible for the practice squad, except Wells, and I would expect at least two of them to return when it's announced. Datko probably would have made it on the 53-man roster if he hadn't gotten injured. It's a little surprising that they only kept 7 offensive lineman, but they only kept 8 at the start of last season. I'm not surprised to see that the one young player they did keep was Don Barclay, who's had a solid preseason.
Other offensive players: I hadn't noticed TE Brandon Bostick, though I'd read good things about him from practice. QB B.J. Coleman has got a big arm, but he needs to work on everything else and is no better than a practice squad player. WR Curenski Gilleylen never impressed me, while WR Dale Moss did, but the Packers didn't need a 7th wide receiver in either case. I felt bad for RB Marc Tyler, he usually ran behind an offensive line that had trouble run blocking, but he doesn't seem to be exceptionally skilled either. FB Nic Cooper is a big guy, but after years of keeping multiple full backs on the roster, this is the second consecutive year that only John Kuhn on the roster.
Defensive line: I don't really know what they ever saw in DE Lawrence Guy. The release of DT Daniel Muir was a surprise. He was better than expected this preseason, and the recent injuries to DE Ryan Pickett and DE B.J. Raji appeared to improve his chances. But he didn't bring anything to the field except size and he showed little as a pass rusher. I guess they liked the versatility DE Phillip Merling better, though his roster spot might be short lived once Mike Neal returns from his suspension.
Linebacker: I thought the Packers would have a tough time cutting down from this group, and to use a football term, they decided to punt and keep all 10. After Erik Walden returns from his one game suspension, we might see one of them released.
Secondary: I've been a fan of S Anthony Levine, he played a good centerfield, but he was the weakest of the safeties when it came time to fight off blocks and playing run support. CB Otis Merrill was fast and he could be a weapon on special teams, but he looked like a liability on defense. He's been rumored for the practice squad, so maybe the Packers want to coach him up for a year and see what happens.
While I liked some of the players they released, the reality is that it's unlikely that any of them would have become a starter in the future. Some of the players were a surprise, but the overall construction of the roster is what I expected from the Packers.