Ahead of their Week 3 matchup with the New Orleans Saints, the Green Bay Packers will elevate cornerback Corey Ballentine and running back Patrick Taylor from the practice squad.
Jaire Alexander is questionable with a back injury that popped up late in the week. After practicing in a full capacity on Wednesday and Thursday, Alexander was added to the injury report on Friday, although he did practice in a limited fashion.
However, even with there some unknown around Alexander’s status for Sunday, I’m not sure how much we can actually glean in regards to Alexander’s availability from the team’s decision to elevate Ballentine. The primary reasons being that Innis Gaines, who was elevated the first two games to contribute on special teams, was on the injury report this week. Zayne Anderson, who was claimed off waivers following roster cutdowns to be a special teams contributor has already been ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Ballentine can fill the void left on special teams that not having Anderson and potentially Gaines created. During the second half of last season, Ballentine was a core member of this Packers special teams unit, ranking tied for sixth in tackles despite playing the 18th most snaps on the team per PFF. He was also a starter on several different units throughout the summer.
From a defensive standpoint, if needed, Ballentine was locked in as one of the two boundary cornerback options with the second-team defense throughout training camp when healthy. With Eric Stokes’ sidelined, my guess is that Ballentine was the fifth cornerback option this summer, behind Alexander, Rasul Douglas, Keisean Nixon, and Carrington Valentine.
The Green Bay secondary this week is facing a Saints’ offense that wants to push the ball downfield. Quarterback Derek Carr enters Week 3 with the most pass attempts in the NFL of 20-plus yards. He’s been relatively effective at connecting on those throws as well.
For the third week in a row, the Packers elevated Taylor. With the Packers brining Taylor up for their Week 1 matchup with Chicago to play special teams, again, this move does not necessarily mean that Aaron Jones won’t be available. Taylor currently ranks 12th on the Packers in special teams snaps played through two games with 20.
If the team is without Jones again, who is questionable with a hamstring, Taylor will likely see some playing time on offense. Against Atlanta, he played 11 snaps, performed well in pass protection as he often does, and carried the ball one time for a yard.
Matt LaFleur said earlier in the week that the team was taking a microscope to their run game as they search for improvements. Through two games, the Packers rushing attack has been bottled up for the most part. This inability to consistently move the ball puts the offense in predictable passing situations and makes moving the ball through the air all the more challenging. The Saints will challenge the young Green Bay offense this week with their aggressive and physical play style.
With the Packers having elevated Taylor three times this season already, if they want to do so a fourth time at any point this season, they’ll first need to sign him to the 53-man roster, meaning a roster cut would have to follow.