The Packers defense was dismal and the offense discombobulated in the preseason opener, a 21-13 loss at San Diego. Injuries have ravaged this team; at one practice, 21 players were sitting out.

Coach Mike McCarthy had to cut two practices short because there weren’t enough players for drills. For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, plenty of roster spots are still up for grabs. Each week during preseason, RapidReports will take a position-by-position look at the players who are likely to make the final cut to 53 on Sept. 2.

Stock rising: RB Alex Green. Almost by default, Green’s stock is rising because his fellow running backs have been falling. Presumptive starter James Starks is out indefinitely with turf toe; Brandon Saine has battled a pulled hamstring; undrafted rookie Du’ane Bennett has a knee injury; and on Monday, FB John Kuhn sprained his ankle, prompting McCarthy to end practice early. But that’s not to cheapen what Green has done. Coming off reconstructive knee surgery last November, he’s been on what McCarthy calls a “snap count,” which has limited his reps. But when Green has gotten the chance to carry or catch, he’s looked agile and explosive, easily the most impressive back of the bunch. The Packers signed veteran Cedric Benson to fortify the battered unit, but that shouldn’t threaten Green.

Stock falling: T Herb Taylor. Due to injuries at left tackle, Taylor started and played much of the game against the Chargers. He was nothing short of a liability who, had it been a regular-season game, would have forced the Packers to take out a life insurance policy on QB Aaron Rodgers. Taylor, a journeyman tackle, was signed off the streets last year after having not been on an NFL roster since 2009. He has one career start and, in his preseason chance last week, was almost immediately trashed by Chargers rookie OLB Melvin Ingram, who crushed Rodgers and forced him to throw an interception. That’s a small body of work, but it’s a terrifyingly telling one.

QB – In (2): Aaron Rodgers and Graham Harrell. Out: B.J. Coleman. Analysis: Even though it’s the most important position, the Packers roll the dice here and keep just a pair. Rodgers’ supposed concussion problem is overblown: he’s been using a new, protective helmet for more than a year and he’s a smarter scrambler now. But the reigning MVP’s health is still of the utmost importance. Behind him is the unproven Harrell, who began each of the last two seasons on the Packers’ practice squad. The backup job is now firmly his. Harrell knows the offense and can throw the ball fine, but he needs to improve his decision-making under pressure. Coleman has plenty of arm strength and determination, he just needs time. He’s not ready and is almost assuredly practice-squad bound. The Packers could still make a move to sign or trade for a veteran backup.

RB – In (4): James Starks, Alex Green, Cedric Benson and John Kuhn. Out: Brandon Saine, Marc Tyler, Du’ane Bennett, Nic Cooper and Jon Hoese. Analysis: This unit has been ravaged by injuries; at a recent practice, McCarthy had to end early because there were only three running backs left. Starks and Kuhn are hurt, but they’re not going anywhere. The Packers still want to believe Starks can be an effective starter, and Kuhn is the only pro-caliber fullback. Green, coming off reconstructive knee surgery last November, has looked excellent in limited work. As he gets more comfortable and more opportunities, he could separate from the rest of the pack. Benson, the free-agent signee, is a proven veteran eager to show he can still run. He’s got an easy contract to cut, if the Packers so choose, but he does add some credibility and durability to this battered group. Tyler and Bennett may stick somewhere – possibly on the Packers’ practice squad. Cooper and Hoese just don’t have the talent, and the Packers don’t have the roster spots for them.

WR – In (6): Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, Tori Gurley. Out: Diondre Borel, Jarrett Boykin, Shaky Smithson, Dale Moss, Curenski Gilleylen and Andy Brewer. Analysis: Jennings has a concussion, Nelson and Jones have had a few drops in practice, Cobb is still learning, and the insanely popular Driver is 37 and had to take a pay cut to return to Green Bay. But all of those receivers will be there in September. The Packers have the best passing game in the league and they wouldn’t dare jeopardize their supreme depth at wideout by cutting one of the top five. The towering Gurley (6-foot-4, 232 pounds) is talented and adds another dimension with his size. Borel would be on the 53-man roster of almost any other team in the league, he’s that good. There’s just no place for him in Green Bay and the team almost certainly won’t be able to get away with stashing him on the practice squad for another year. After that, it’s a bunch of young guys with upside who are applying for positions at a job with no openings. Boykin, Moss and Gilleylen are practice-squad candidates. Smithson was on it last year and has probably run his course in Green Bay. Brewer, signed just last week, has done little.

TE – In (4): Jermichael Finley, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree and Ryan Taylor. Out: Brandon Bostick, DeMarco Cosby and Andrew Quarless. Analysis: Finley is talented but inconsistent. If he puts it all together, he says he could put up numbers like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. And when he flashes his potential, you’re inclined to agree. Williams has sparkled in training camp, catching everything thrown his way. He’s undersized at 6-2 and 245 pounds and needs to improve his in-line blocking. Crabtree is the best blocker of the bunch and an OK receiver. Taylor is a high-effort, special-teams monster with blocking and receiving potential. Bostick and Cosby never really had a chance and neither, really, is a practice-squad option. Quarless, who tore both his ACL and MCL last December, has insisted his goal is to return for the season opener. But it’s nearly certain he’ll begin the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

OL – In (9): Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse, T.J. LangJosh Sitton, Jeff Saturday, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Reggie Wells, Andrew Datko and Tommie Draheim. Out:  Derek Sherrod, Herb Taylor, Shea Allard, Don Barclay, Greg Van Roten, Ray Dominguez and Sampson Genus. Analysis: The entire starting offensive line is signed through the end of next season, with Sitton locked up through 2016, and Lang and Bulaga through 2015. It’s a reflection of the strength and consistency of the starting unit. Behind it, though, it’s a different story. Dietrich-Smith is an invaluable backup at all three interior spots; the veteran Wells can play guard or tackle and has 91 career starts under his belt. Then it gets downright scary. Datko (6-6, 315) and Draheim (6-4, 309) both have great size. Datko makes it because of his potential. If he can get stronger and get his shoulder fully healed, he could be an NFL right tackle. Draheim, who played well against the Chargers, makes it because of his versatility across the line.

DL – In (6): B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels, C.J. Wilson and Daniel Muir. Out: Phillip Merling, Jarius Wynn, Lawrence Guy, Johnny Jones, Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove. Analysis: Raji, the pass-rusher, and Pickett, the run-stuffer, are veteran locks. Worthy and Daniels are high-upside, rookie locks. Wilson is a solid run defender, and Muir brings energy and intensity. Merling and Wynn have shown nothing, Guy is just a guy, Jones hasn’t even practiced because of a knee injury, and Neal and Hargrove are suspended, respectively, for the first four and eight games of the season. After a month, look for the Packers to add a reinvigorated Neal to the mix, giving them seven defensive linemen.

LB – In (9): Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, A.J. Hawk, D.J. Smith, Erik Walden, Dezman Moses, Jamari Lattimore, Rob Francois and Brad Jones. Out: Terrell Manning, Vic So’oto, Frank Zombo and Desmond Bishop. Analysis: Matthews is the most impactful player on the defense. Perry is the first-round pick who’s supposed to take some pressure off Matthews. He’s been above average in camp and had a sack against the Chargers. Hawk is unspectacular, making zero turnover plays last year and missing too many tackles, but he’s the communication lynchpin and the spot is his. With Bishop’s hamstring injury likely season-ending, Smith is the starter, and a solid one at that. Walden has been the most striking pass-rusher in camp and, despite his one-game suspension, looks to have earned a spot. Moses is the Packers’ annual undrafted rookie flyer, a raw pass-rusher who also contributes on special teams. Lattimore is improved, Francois is steady and Jones is able to play inside and outside linebacker; their work on special teams makes them more valuable. On the outside looking in, Manning has been invisible. He hasn’t made the big plays he made in college or, really, any plays. So’oto was the undrafted, playmaking darling last training camp, but he doesn’t contribute on special teams and his one-dimensionality does him in this year. Zombo has yet to see the field because of a lingering hamstring injury. And Bishop’s hamstring has likely landed him on injured reserve.

DB – In (10): Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Morgan Burnett, Casey Hayward, Jarrett Bush, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Davon House, Sam Shields and Anthony Levine. Out: Sean Richardson, Micah Pellerin, Otis Merrill, Brandian Ross and CB Dion Turner. Analysis: This has been probably the most wide-open position group. The No. 2 cornerback job is up for grabs, the strong safety position in the oft-used nickel defense is unclaimed, and the reserve corner spots are not settled. Unfortunately, the only player that made a hard claim for anything – Davon House as the second cornerback – got hurt and is out two to three weeks, at least. Woodson is a safety in the base defense and a slot corner in nickel – anywhere they can get the crafty playmaker closer to the ball. Williams, despite an off year in 2011, is entrenched as the top cornerback. Burnett, ever the playmaker and a year wiser, is in centerfield. Hayward, the second-round pick, has been relatively mistake-free and has a nose for the ball; he could be starting on the outside when the season begins. Bush got his chance at the No. 2 cornerback job but he just doesn’t have the coverage ability. He was re-signed in the offseason for his standout special teams skills and his physicality. Jennings, the 2011 undrafted free agent, and McMillian, the fourth-round rookie, are still battling to be the nickel safety. House was having an outstanding camp when he hurt his shoulder; for now, he’ll have to wait and the Packers will have to hope he returns sooner than later. Shields, the former wide receiver, had a bad year last season and has been unimpressive in camp. But he’s got blazing speed, good ball skills and tons of raw potential, but he must tackle. The Packers liked Levine a lot last year before injuries torpedoed his chance to make the final roster. Richardson is fast and Pellerin is versatile; both are practice-squad candidates. The other three – Merrill, Ross and Turner – never took advantage of opportunities and are buried at the bottom of the depth chart.

Special teams – In (3): Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay and Brett Goode. Out: Nobody. Analysis: Crosby and Masthay are locked up through 2015 and 2016, respectively. Crosby has a strong leg and is accurate. Masthay is the best punter Green Bay has seen in years. Goode snaps long and he snaps good. No changes, no cuts here.

For more Packers news and notes, follow James Carlton on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLGB.