The cuts have been made. Most waivers claims have been processed and complete, at least for the time being. And heading into Week 1, the Green Bay Packers have their initial 53-man roster.
Are there any surprises. Of course, there are, and at the same time, a large number of expected players stayed on the roster.
First, let's start with the obvious. At least partially. And that is the Packers heading into the start of the season with only Graham Harrell as the backup quarterback, who also holds a special place as the only veteran backup to have not taken a snap in a regular season game. Head coach Mike McCarthy and the Packers staff have groomed Harrell for three seasons now, and have stood firm by Harrell throughout the preseason, which was rough up until the final preseason game, which esseentially secured his spot as the next in line behind MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
To go along with Harrell was linebacker Dezman Moses, who impressed early in camp and was one of several undrafted rookies to make the roster, and will see most of his time on special teams. Moses is still raw at the outside linebacker position having converted from defensive end, but showed potential as a pass rusher during the preseason and training camp.
Next are the surprises. The Packers kept six receivers, but the sixth receiver is neither Diondre Borel or Tori Gurley. Instead, the spot has gone to undrafted rooke Jarrett Boykin out of Virginia Tech. His smooth route running ability and steady play elevated him over both Borel, who, despite his potential as a slot receiver, didn't do enough to stick to the roster, and Gurley, who despite his 6-4 frame, was not consistent enough later in the stretch.
The next biggest surprise was tackle Jon Barclay, the fourth undrafted free agent to make the roster. Barclay is one of only seven offensive linemen on the roster, with 2011 first rounder Derek Sherrod still on the PUP list due to his broken leg. Whether Barclay sticks when Sherrod eventually returns remains to be seen, but for now, he's likely to stick around for at least the next few weeks. Barclay got the spot over journeyman Herb Taylor and seventh rounder Andrew Datko, who was signed over to the practice squad.
Moving on from the undrafted rookies, the other surprises to stick around included Philip Merling on the defensive line. Despite his body size, the former top pick of the second round has underachieved for most of his career, and was released from the Dolphins this off-season. He was slow to start in training camp, but his size to play as a 3-4 end, coupled with the suspension of Mike Neal and the release of Anthony Hargrove, who would serve an eight game suspension as a result of his participation in the New Orleans Saints Bounty scandal, along with the release of Daniel Muir, has Merling around at least for the first few weeks.
In the secondary, the Packers kept undrafted rookie Sean Richardson at safety over the third year Anthony Levine. Richardson was not a stand out play maker, but was steady enough to nab the spot over Levine, and partially landed the spot because of his upside over the former Packer.
The other surprise was Brandian Ross at cornerback, an undrafted player out of Youngstown State in 2011, who made some noise last year but found a place on the practice squad for all of last season.
At linebacker, fifth rounder Terell manning, who had a very quiet camp and was not the dark horse many had pegged him to become, was kept around, in large part due to the one game suspension of outside linebacker Erick Walden.
For now, Sam Sheilds, who has had his share of struggles in training camp competing for the starting outside corner position with Jarrett Bush, Davon House, and second round pick Casey Hayward, remains on the roster, but may be on thin ice if his tackling and coverage does not become consistent soon. The Packers have found plenty of upside with Hayward and House, a 2011 fourth round pick who may have been in line to nab the starting corner spot had he not injured his shoulder.
Remember, the 53-man roster is always subject to change week by week. And it's a long season. Between Weeks One and Six, when linebacker Erik Walden, defensive tackle Mike Neal and offensive tackle Sherrod are slated to return, the roster will be sure to have several changes within its ranks.