Green Bay Packers Practice Squad Surprises: No Begelton or Uphoff

Aug 11, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers safety Christian Uphoff (40) is shown during training camp Wednesday, August 11, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY NETWORK
Aug 11, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers safety Christian Uphoff (40) is shown during training camp Wednesday, August 11, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY NETWORK /

After putting together their initial roster on Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers, along with the rest of the NFL, constructed their 16 player practice squads on Wednesday.

Early that morning, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network shared each of the waiver claims that teams had placed over the previous 24 hours. For the Green Bay Packers, they either did not put in a claim or were not awarded the player if they did. But also, none of the players that they cut were claimed by other teams.

This meant that the Green Bay Packers 16 player practice squad was going to be made up of players who spent training camp with the team—and that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

What I’m guessing did come as a surprise to many, however, was the two players left off—wide receiver Reggie Begelton and safety Christian Uphoff.

Begelton emerged as a favorite target of Jordan Love’s during training camp practices and put together a strong preseason, catching 7 of his 12 targets for 80 yards, according to PFF ($$). Four of those receptions came against Buffalo, who had their starting defense on the field for much of the first half.

He’s also someone who can contribute on special teams, which is important for any fringe roster player, and he can also return punts if the Green Bay Packers found themselves in a pinch.

"“Their (Begelton and Malik Taylor) mentality has been awesome, their preparation and just their work ethic,” WR coach Jason Vrable continued via the Wisconsin State Journal. “They both went out against the Bills’ basically starting defense and you would’ve never known that they weren’t in our rotation to be the top three the way that they performed on those first two drives.“After the game, I was like, ‘Man, these guys came a long way from two years ago.’ That was really pleasing for me to see that.”"

It’s no surprise that Juwann Winfree was placed on the practice squad, but Begelton easily outperformed Equanimeous St. Brown, who missed much of camp with an injury, as well as Chris Blair, who was actually cut when rosters were trimmed from 85 players down to 80.

But likely, the two biggest motivating factors in this decision were age and upside. Begelton just turned 28 years old, and while he certainly provides a more steady presence than the other two, St. Brown is still just 24 and Blair 23.

If this was a discussion centered around the third wide receiver on the team, then you absolutely choose stability. But on the practice squad? It’s all about upside and potential.

Then there is Uphoff, who was actually projected to make the 53-man roster by many. While defensively he took his lumps this summer — which shouldn’t be a surprise, he is a young player after all — and perhaps he didn’t stand out as much as Innis Gaines, he did make a few splashy plays on special teams, which is where a majority of his snaps early on his career would come.

With Uphoff, it’s much more difficult to determine what the core reason was that he was left off the practice squad. There is the obvious, which is that the Green Bay Packers just weren’t that high on him, but that doesn’t really matchup with what we saw this summer.

Yes, he has areas to improve upon, but as an undrafted rookie, it’s well-known that he’s a developmental prospect and likely not someone who was going to contribute immediately.

As Andy Herman of Packer Report pointed out, it’s important to remember that players rejoining the practice squad is always a two-way street. They have to want to be here as well. There is no evidence to suggest that this was the case with Uphoff or Begelton, but worth keeping in mind, nonetheless.

The Green Bay Packers 16 man practice squad is now set, but keep in mind that as the season progresses, both the practice squad and the 53-man roster will continue to evolve. As Brian Gutekunst says, roster construction is a 365 day a year job.