It’s been acknowledged that this year’s going to be tougher than normal for undrafted rookies to make rosters, given the short amount of time and lack of preseason games they have to make an impression.
But there are plenty of other personnel challenges facing teams as they make roster decisions in the time of COVID-19.
Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst said having to make some cuts before this weekend based on virtual work and conditioning drills was a painful reality (though, it’s much harder for those getting cut than Gutekunst).
“It’s another one of the challenges that we’re going through,” he said. “I think we want to keep as many players around here as we can; we’ve always operated that way. Obviously in a normal year, especially the last few years where we just had the one cut down, it was a little bit easier, but with certain guys coming off certain lists we have to be prepared to make the moves that we need to make and a lot of times it’s not going to be with enough information really that we would like to have on the players we may be releasing. But it’s just kind of part of the situation we’re in right now, and again, we’ve got a great staff, we feel really good about how we’re going about it, but it doesn’t make it easy.”
Part of the problem is not being able to bring in guys off the street to fill immediate needs. Without those workouts, waiver claims could become more important. The Packers claimed former Lions wideout Travis Fulgham and former Chiefs fullback John Lovett off waivers, and put in a claim on defensive tackle Bruce Hector before he was awarded to Carolina.
But the act of practicing this weekend could become complicated by COVID-19. At the moment, both kicker Mason Crosby and long snapper Hunter Bradley are on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and they’re the only ones at their positions on the roster.
“We’re obviously hopeful those guys will be back and ready to go by that time,” Gutekunst said. “I think we’ll just kind of see when we get there, where we’re at. To your point, using roster spots right for guys just to get through practice isn’t ideal, but if it’s something we feel is important we’ll do it.”
Without being able to bring guys in for a quick workout (anyone who comes in has to pass multiple days of COVID-19 tests), filling those short-term gaps will be hard, as all decisions are in this environment.