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NFL Roster Cuts 2021: 5 big surprises in the Green Bay Packers' initial 53-man squad

Green Bay Packers v Buffalo Bills
Green Bay Packers v Buffalo Bills

The Green Bay Packers announced their 53-man squad earlier this week. It's the first staging point as the NFL regular season nears. As always, when teams name 53-man squads, there are a couple of surprises. The Packers are no different.

Yes, players such as Jordan Love and Rashan Gary were always making the roster, but it's always worth looking at some of the shock names that made the Packers' 53-man squad.

#1 - Shemar Jean-Charles

The Packers are deep at cornerback. The fact that Shemar Jean-Charles made the Packers' 53-man squad is not a knock on his ability. At least four players are ahead of him on the depth chart, though. Moreover, the Packers' star safeties will also take snaps away from him in sub-packages.

The rookie corner enjoyed a solid camp. He arrived at training camp with a decent college pedigree from Appalachian State. Add that to a conducive attitude to learning, and Jean-Charles seemed destined for a place on the practice squad.

He flipped that narrative on its head. It was a surprise, but Jean-Charles earned his spot in the 53-man squad.

#2 - Dominique Dafney

Dominique Dafney's story is one of perseverance. The Indiana State alum worked at a bar in Iowa after he went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. After joining the Packers last October, Dafney battled hard to keep his job.

Dafney hung around on the 53-man roster last year, although he didn't see many snaps at tight end. Established tight end tandem Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan limited Dafney's chances. Subsequently, some felt he was a cut candidate.

Instead, Dafney demonstrated a good work ethic, especially as a blocker and on special teams during training camp. That's an area where Dafney must perform well if he stays in the 53-man squad and builds on his career.

#3 - Yosh Nijman

Like yetis and unicorns, Yosh Nijman is a bit of an urban myth.

The Packers lineman joined the team after he went undrafted in 2019. After two years and a total of 15 snaps, many Packers fans felt he would be released before the 2021 season.

Instead, Nijman began to emerge in training camp and preseason games. Nijman is stout physically, so he should be a good run-blocker. Regardless of his unheralded status, Nijman worked hard to make the 53-man squad. He could develop into a good depth piece for the offensive line.

#4 - Ty Summers

Former seventh-round pick Ty Summers is still fighting for his NFL career. The inside linebacker only started one game in 2020, although he did take snaps on special teams. Summers is a surprise because his primary role is at linebacker.

Summers is a tough athlete, a decent tackler, and has good energy. He's not in the Jalen Reeves-Maybin mold of being an elite special teamer, so he has to impress in his limited snaps. Summers did okay during training camp without excelling. The Packers aren't stacked at the inside linebacker position. However, it feels as if Summers is almost fortunate to make the 53-man squad.

#5 - Oren Burks

Due to the lack of depth at inside linebacker, it perhaps makes sense that Oren Burks is still on the roster. The third-round pick from 2018 hasn't started a game in two years. He's endured difficulties with injury and a lack of form.

Burks played well in their first preseason game against the Texans. PFF graded him a 75 in that outing, not bad at all. In reality, it feels like people are searching for anything to justify Burk's roster presence. Three years is enough time for a player to make a mark. Oren Burk hasn't. He was fortunate to make the 53-man squad.

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Edited by Colin D'Cunha
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