The Green Bay Packers used both of their practice squad elevations on the cornerback position, activating Corey Ballentine and Kiondre Thomas for their matchup with the Detroit Lions.
The Packers find themselves very shorthanded at the cornerback position. For one, they only have four cornerbacks on the 53-man roster and two of them are dealing with injuries. Tom Pelissero has reported that Jaire Alexander is reportedly leaning towards being out as he is still dealing with a back injury. Carrington Valentine is questionable with a biceps injury that he suffered against New Orleans. His availability for Thursday night is still unknown.
Ballentine was elevated this past Sunday to provide special teams help and depth at cornerback with Alexander out. He then ended seeing defensive snaps in the second half with Valentine out. Ballentine played 30 total snaps against the Saints, recording four tackles and allowed four catches on six targets at 12.5 yards per catch, along with a big pass breakup late in the game.
Thomas being elevated doesn’t necessarily mean that Valentine is out, this could just be a move made to provide additional depth at a position dealing with injuries. Thomas brings a well-rounded skill set, holding up well in coverage during the preseason and as a run defender. His primary role for Thursday’s game, even if Valentine can’t go, will be on special teams.
The Green Bay defense faces a good test against Jared Goff and the Lions’ passing game. Amon-Ra St. Brown primarily plays from the slot but will be moved around. He’s often targeted closer to the line of scrimmage where he can get the ball in space and run the run to pick up yards after the catch.
On the boundary is Khalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds, who have had ups and downs but are more downfield targets. Off of play-action in particular is when we’ve seen Goff push the ball downfield. Do-it-all tight end Sam LaPorta has emerged as a versatile and reliable target for Goff as well.
The Lions want to run the ball and build the passing game off of that. It’s going to be important that the Green Bay secondary reads their keys and remains disciplined. That’s not an easy task when facing an offense that mixes the run and pass games, but a failure to do so will result in defenders being out of position and potentially big plays for the offense.
It’s going to be crucial that the Packers’ pass rush get home to disrupt Goff and throw off his timing and rhythm. If not, he has proven that with time in the pocket he can pick a defense apart, especially a shorthanded one.
Also of note is who the Packers didn’t elevate. Sports Illustrated’s Bill Huber pointed out that with Green Bay choosing not to elevate an offensive lineman, if Zach Tom can’t play that would leave them with only seven linemen available for Thursday’s game, which is far too few. So perhaps this is a sign that Tom will be starting at right tackle for the Packers.