GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With organized team activities starting Monday, the Green Bay Packers reached the 90-man offseason roster limit for the first time when they signed safety Jermaine Whitehead last week.
This week, we'll get the chance to see the players on the practice field for the first time. Tuesday's OTA practice will be open to reporters and, weather permitting, to fans.
Here's a breakdown of the Packers' roster on defense, where Clay Matthews should finally get the chance to line up at his old outside linebacker spot again:
Outlook: Raji's unexpected hiatus from the NFL forced GM Ted Thompson to give defensive coordinator Dom Capers more help up front, and he used his first-round pick (Clark) and a fourth-rounder (Lowry) to do so. Pennel will miss the first four games of the season because of a drug suspension, which he'll get the chance to explain to reporters this week. Ringo is an intriguing prospect who spent his rookie season last year on the practice squad. Jones likely will spend as much time with the outside linebackers as he does the defensive ends as he transitions into an “elephant” role. Price is one of the undrafted rookie free agents to watch.
Outlook: Even though coach Mike McCarthy returned Matthews to his original position after playing at inside linebacker the previous season-and-a-half, this position still needed help. Fackrell, a third-round pick, could be groomed to replace Peppers, who's 36 and entering the final year of his contract. Perry re-signed for just one year. It appears they decided to bring him back rather than Neal, who remains unsigned. McCray was mostly a special-teams player in his three seasons in Denver, although he played 253 snaps on defense for the Broncos the previous two seasons combined.
Goners: Nate Palmer
Outlook: Capers will need to find out quickly if drafting Martinez in the fourth round gives him enough ammunition to move Matthews back to the outside on a full-time basis. Martinez is potentially better in coverage than Barrington or Ryan, the likely combination in the base defense. If Martinez can play in nickel and/or dime, the Packers should be improved at this spot. Thomas was signed off the street last year and played more than 300 snaps, mostly as the dime linebacker. After two years on the practice squad, it's time to find out whether Bradford, a former fourth-round pick, can play.
Goners: Casey Hayward
Outlook: This position was so deep that Thompson didn't draft anyone, even after losing Hayward to the San Diego Chargers in free agency. The three additions all were undrafted free agents. Randall and Rollins, the Packers' top two draft picks in 2015, played extensively as rookies. Like Pennel, Goodson will get the chance to explain his four-game PED suspension for the first time. Rollins could challenge safety Micah Hyde for the nickel and/or dime defensive back spots.
Goners: Sean Richardson
Outlook: There are really three starters in this group -- Burnett, Clinton-Dix and Hyde. The depth allowed Thompson to treat this position much like he did the cornerbacks. He added a pair of undrafted rookies (Brice and Evans) and signed Whitehead, who finished last season on the Baltimore Ravens' roster after a long stint on the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad. Richardson is attempting a comeback from a second neck fusion surgery, but he's a free agent and remains unsigned.