After releasing interior defensive lineman Jonathan Ford -along with Tariq Carpenter – from the 53-man roster on Wednesday to make room for a pair of waiver wire additions, the Green Bay Packers signed Ford to the practice squad on Friday. To make room for him, the team announced that it released center James Empey.
Ford had put together a sound summer with Matt LaFleur specifically mentioning him as someone who had “upped his game” in comparison to a season ago. As a nose tackle with the Packers second-team defense, Ford was able to generate a steady push, specifically in the run game. He finished the preseason with two pressures and a tackle, according to PFF, although in his role, where he is often eating up space and taking on double-teams, you’re not always going to notice Ford’s presence on the state sheet.
However, because of his very run-specific skill-set as a nose tackle, that also made Ford expendable from the 53-man roster. TJ Slaton is the starting nose tackle for this defense, not to mention that Kenny Clark can, and likely will at times, fill that role as well. You rarely see six man rotations along the defensive front, and I’m sure the excellent play of rookie Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks played a factor in Green Bay moving on from him as well.
I am slightly surprised that the Packers chose to move on from Empey. He took over as the second-team offense’s center once Jake Hanson was injured and eventually released and held up well in practice. In two preseason games, he allowed no pressures.
Outside of Josh Myers, Empey was the only other true-center option on the roster. Of course, others can fill that role, but center is not their primary position. Without Empey, it will be interesting to see who handles the snaps at center with Sean Clifford and the scout team offense throughout the season.
Following these two moves, the Green Bay Packers practice squad sits at the maximum of 16 players. Ford joins Chris Slayton as the second interior defensive lineman on the practice squad.