Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes, who is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, and offensive tackle Luke Tenuta, who is on injured reserve, are both eligible to return to practice this upcoming week.
Stokes was placed on the PUP list prior to training camp, still recovering from a foot injury he suffered in Week 9 of last season. Tenuta was initially placed on the 53-man roster during cutdowns before being placed on IR, allowing him to return this season. Tenuta suffered an ankle injury in Green Bay’s first preseason game against Cincinnati.
With both PUP and IR, players have to miss a minimum of four games before they are eligible to return to practice. Once they are designated for return and on the practice field, the team has three weeks to then place that player on the 53-man roster, or if not, they revert back to IR, and their season is over.
It is unknown right now where either player is health-wise or what their recovery timeline looks like. But when Matt LaFleur was asked about Stokes’ specifically returning to practice this upcoming week, he said, “We’re hopeful, but we’ll see.”
Note: As of Tuesday, October 3rd’s practice, Stokes did return, opening up his three week window to be added back to the 53-man roster.
Prior to his injury, Stokes was having a down second season. He allowed a completion rate of 84 percent on 25 targets at 13.1 yards per catch and had zero pass breakups or interceptions. Quarterbacks had a passer rating of 125.8 when targeting him, according to PFF.
Upon his return, where or exactly how Stokes fits into the Green Bay defense is still a bit of an unknown. Like Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas, Stokes is a boundary cornerback. So unless the team plans to move one of those three players inside to play the slot instead of Keisean Nixon, some sort of rotation will have to take place–although we know Alexander won’t be coming off the field, and I’m not sure they want Douglas to either.
Thinking outside the box a bit, perhaps the Packers would be willing to move Douglas to safety, where upgrades can be made, allowing Stokes to slot in opposite of Alexander. With that said, there have been zero indications that this is going to happen.
Tenuta has been a developmental tackle prospect that the Packers claimed off waivers early last season. He spent the remainder of 2022 on the Green Bay 53-man roster, essentially as a red-shirt season.
Before his injury, Tenuta was primarily working with the third-team offense in training camp behind Caleb Jones and, at the time, Rasheed Walker before he emerged as a possible starter. It’s clear, however, that the Packers really like Tenuta, given that they chose to roster him.
"“He’s big, first of all,” said GM Brian Gutekunst following roster cutdowns. “He’s really smart. He’s tough. We think he’s got pretty good upside. You guys know, I’ve talked about this with you before, but especially once you get into the season, it’s hard to find big guys who can play, and we think he’s a big guy who can play, so we would like to continue to develop him.”"
With injuries also piling up along the offensive line, his return would provide some much-needed depth at this time. Ian Rapoport reported that David Bakhtiari’s season is likely over, while Zach Tom was dealing with a knee injury following the New Orleans game. Green Bay is also dealing with injuries at guard, with Elgton Jenkins missing time with an MCL sprain and Jon Runyan suffering an ankle injury against Detroit.
Again, there is no indication at this time that either will be back at practice next week. And just because the four-week minimum periods for PUP and IR have been met, that doesn’t mean that either Stokes or Tenuta have to be activated at this time. They are able to stay on those lists as long as needed.
Whenever the Packers do choose to add both of these players back to the 53-man roster, corresponding cuts will have to be made. The Packers are currently at max capacity, and neither Stokes nor Tenuta count towards the roster at this time.