Picking in a Pandemic: Packers’ Gutekunst talks roster decisions


Green Bay Packers wide receiver Malik Taylor works out prior to a NFL football preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(WFRV) – Nothing is seemingly easy in 2020. Picking a 53 man roster during a pandemic is no different.

“I didn’t realize I’d miss preseason games as much as I did,” said Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst.

While many players may not have missed the preseason, losing the game film only made things more difficult for team executives when building the roster. General manners and scouts needed to turn to old game tape from college or the pros, along with practice evaluation, to get an idea of who would make the final cut.

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur talks to general manager Brian Gutekunst during NFL football training camp Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Losing those opportunities on the field also cost many players on the bubble.

“I’m sure you guys have seen in the past, where that last preseason game, or third preseason game, where a guy just shows out. Then you know if you don’t keep him, you’re going to lose him. Throughout the league, whether or its on practice suqads or the street, right now there’s a bunch of guys out there with bright NFL futures that just didn’t get the opportunity,” said Gutekunst.

One player that was able to climb into the final 53 for the Packers this year was wide receiver Malik Turner. As a rookie turner was on the Packers practice squad in 2019. That time in the Packers locker room and Matt LaFleur’s system proved valuable.

Especially when the team had to make a decision of who would stay, and who would go in the Packers wide receiving corps. Unfortunately for fan favorite Jake Kumerow it would be the UW-Whitewater product that didn’t make the 53 man roster out of camp.

The decision to cut Kumerow and keep Turner wasn’t exactly cut and dry according to Gutekunst.

Green Bay Packers’ Jake Kumerow runs during NFL football training camp Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

“Yeah, it really wasn’t like a Malik over Jake type of situation. I think Malik had an outstanding camp, and I think he just really built off what he did last year. So, we’re excited to see where he can go,” said Gutekunst.

Now the Packers turn their attention to week one, and the Minnesota Vikings without any game action under their belt. Ultimately their in the same boat as every other team learning along the way in an unprecedented pandemic.

“Going into this first four games and how ready everybody’s teams are, and just kind of seeing the injury rate too. We’re they prepared for a real NFL season. Without being able to go out there in a game like situation, there’s just a little bit of unknown.”

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