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6 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make the Green Bay Packers' Final 53-Man Roster

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIJuly 7, 2014

6 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make the Green Bay Packers' Final 53-Man Roster

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    Running back LaDarius Perkins could sneak onto the final roster in Green Bay.
    Running back LaDarius Perkins could sneak onto the final roster in Green Bay.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    When you have a team with as much overall talent as the Green Bay Packers, there are always going to be dark horses to make the final roster.

    These players will ultimately catch fire late in training camp or during the preseason to be one of the last 53 men standing. They'll likely be undrafted free agents or players who spent last year on the practice squad.

    While these players might not make much of an impact during the 2014 season, simply making the final roster is huge for the future. Let's take a look at six dark-horse candidates to make the Packers' final 53-man roster.

Chase Rettig, Quarterback

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    The Packers are certainly in a much better place with the backup quarterback situation. Last year, they went through B.J. Coleman, Vince Young and others before signing Seneca Wallace before Week 1.

    This year, the Packers are set with Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn as the likely backups. However, a player who could surprise and make the final 53-man roster is Chase Rettig out of Boston College.

    Rettig has ideal arm strength for the Packers offense, and his athleticism is a definite plus. Unfortunately, Rettig struggled throughout his college career with accuracy and decision-making.

    If he can improve on those two areas during training camp, he could sneak ahead of either Flynn or Tolzien for the final quarterback spot.

LaDarius Perkins, Running Back

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    There's no doubt that the Packers boast one of the deepest groups of running backs in the league. They've come a far way from just a few years ago when this position was a major weakness.

    With Eddie Lacy, James Starks and DuJuan Harris leading the group, it'll be hard for any youngster to make the final roster. It'll be even more difficult for an undrafted free agent to do so.

    However, LaDarius Perkins has something that no other running back in Green Bay has: blazing speed. Perkins ran an incredible 4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL combine this year. It's that incredible speed that could ultimately help Perkins stick with the Packers.

    With Lacy acting as an old-school power back, Perkins could sneak in as the true change-of-pace running back. His speed should also give him an opportunity to return both kicks and punts, an area of weakness for the Packers last year.

    Perkins will have plenty of competition, including fellow undrafted free agent Rajion Neal. However, he could surprise everyone by being one of the last players to make the final roster.

Justin Perillo, Tight End

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    No position provides as much mystery as the tight end position. It's legitimately possible that this group could either be fantastic or completely terrible.

    One reason for this is the uncertainty at the position. The only real locks to make the roster are Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers. A player who could quietly move his way up the depth chart is Justin Perillo from Maine.

    While Perillo doesn't have the athleticism of Rodgers or the upside of a player like Colt Lyerla, he provides something else for the Packers. Perillo is an all-around tight end with the ability to catch and block. He'd be more of a natural tight end for the Packers, something the team hasn't had in years.

    It'll be an uphill battle for Perillo, but if he can excel in pass protection and run blocking, Green Bay could certainly find a place for him on its roster.

Garth Gerhart, Center

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    When the Packers drafted center Corey Linsley in the fifth round of this year's draft, things weren't looking so hot for Garth Gerhart. He spent all of last year on the practice squad for the Packers.

    However, with no current member of the roster having any experience playing center, Green Bay could decide it needs to keep extra depth at the position. For example, if the Packers give the starting job to JC Tretter, but he ends up being a bust, they could move Tretter back to offensive tackle or guard, make Linsley the starter and Gerhart would be the backup.

    It's a definite long shot for Gerhart to make the final roster. However, we've seen the Packers keep extra players at questionable positions in the past, and center certainly falls into that category this season.

Jake Doughty, Inside Linebacker

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    One position where the Packers need fresh talent desperately is inside linebacker. Neither A.J. Hawk nor Brad Jones instill much confidence for helping improve the Packers defense.

    What the Packers ultimately need at inside linebacker are playmakers. That's why a player like Jake Doughty could be a dark-horse candidate to make the final roster.

    Doughty proved in his last year at Utah State that he can make plays all over the field. He finished with 148 total tackles, the second most in the FBS last year, to go along with 12 tackles for loss. He also added two sacks just for good measure.

    While Doughty doesn't have the athleticism that the Packers ultimately want at his position, his playmaking abilities speak rather loudly. As long as he can continue to make plays during training camp and the preseason, we could see him force his way onto the final roster in Green Bay.

Tanner Miller, Free Safety

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Not a single interception was made by the safeties last year for the Packers. That's just unacceptable.

    The Packers are hoping that the drafting of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round will fix that problem. However, even with adding Clinton-Dix, the Packers could still use some playmakers at safety to add depth on the roster.

    Enter former Iowa safety Tanner Miller. He recorded seven interceptions and three forced fumbles over his final three seasons in college.

    With Micah Hyde ultimately going to play more of a cornerback/safety hybrid role, Miller could find himself as Clinton-Dix's primary backup. If he can consistently create turnovers in the secondary for the rest of the offseason, Miller's chances of making the final roster should be quite good.

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