9 Packers Questionable and De’Vondre Campbell Doubtful vs. Broncos

Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) runs through positional drills during the first day of training camp on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, Wis.Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) runs through positional drills during the first day of training camp on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, Wis.Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin /

Despite the Green Bay Packers coming off a bye week and only have played one game in the last 20-plus days, the injury report heading into their matchup with Denver is quite long.

Following Friday’s practice, Matt LaFleur announced what those final injury designations were:

Questionable: Aaron Jones, Quay Walker, Darnell Savage, Devonte Wyatt, Jaire Alexander, Zayne Anderson, Yosh Nijman, Elgton Jenkins and Eric Stokes

Doubtful: De’Vondre Campbell

“I never throw my hands up,” said LaFleur in a response to a question about all of the injuries the Packers have, “you just deal with it, right? It’s the next man up mentality and this league doesn’t really care. Nobody cares and neither do we. How do you get the next guy up ready to roll so you can go out and play your best football.”

Alexander was added to the injury report on Thursday with a back issue, but practiced in a limited fashion. He did not practice on Friday. When LaFleur was asked if that gave him any consternation, he simply replied with, “yes.”

It is unknown if Alexander’s current back issue is related to what he experienced early in the season, which forced him to miss two games, but the symptoms appear similar. Prior to the New Orleans game in Week 3, Alexander popped up on the injury report later in the week and ended up missing that game, along with the Thursday night game against Detroit.

The Packers have until this upcoming Tuesday to add Eric Stokes back to the 53-man roster off the PUP list. Whether that activation comes prior to kickoff or after, a corresponding cut will have to take place to make room for Stokes on the roster.

“Ya’ll know like I know,” said Stokes about his availability for Sunday. “So right now, we both in the same boat. I really don’t know right now.”

The unknown around Alexander’s and Stokes’ statuses for Sunday’s game leaves the Packers potentially quite thin at the cornerback position, similarly to what we saw in the Detroit game. During that game, it was Rasul Douglas on the boundary, along with Carrington Valentine initially, and then Corey Ballentine for the majority of the game, which LaFleur said afterward was for added help against the run.

Ballentine will likely be one of the Packers’ two practice squad elevations this week, and even if Stokes is available, he is in all likelihood going to be on a snap count. I would guess that he won’t even be one of the starters.

“That’s a tough thing to say,” said Stokes about whether his game day status is tied to Alexander’s availability. “I really don’t know what’s going on with Ja either. We all trying to figure it out.”

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has been willing to push the ball downfield this season, ranking ninth in pass attempts of 20-plus yards. Receiver Marvin Mims has been one of the most effective deep ball receivers, while Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton have seen their share of targets in the intermediate 10 to 19 yard range. Limiting the Denver passing game starts with stopping the run and putting offense in predictable passing situations where the Packers front can get after an offensive line that has allowed the ninth-highest pressure rate this season.

Darnell Savage (calf) and Quay Walker (knee) both exited the Las Vegas game and were limited in all three practices this week. For what it’s worth, prior to the bye week, LaFleur did say that the team was “hopeful” that Savage and Walker could be available for the Broncos game—a good sign, at the very least, that these injuries aren’t long-term.

With De’Vondre Campbell listed as doubtful, it will presumably be another start for Isaiah McDuffie at linebacker. McDuffie has been a very sound tackler this season, making 27 of his 28 tackle attempts. This is a Denver offense that hasn’t been able to lean on the run game often because they are frequently trailing in games, but whether it’s their running backs or Russell Wilson scrambling, they’ve been efficient on the ground.

Wyatt was limited in practice all three days this week. He has been hot and cold this season, ranking second in PFF’s pass rush productivity metric, but also disappearing against the run at times. If Jonathan Ford is elevated off the practice squad on Saturday, Wyatt won’t be playing.

Over on the offensive side, Jenkins did not practice on Friday, after being limited all week. LaFleur acknowledged that this decision was more so precautionary. Yosh Nijman was a late addition on Friday after not being listed on the injury report the first two days.

The offensive line has dealt with numerous injuries this season, which has played a factor in the unit’s up and down performance. In the run game, the Packers have struggled to find any sort of consistent success, while against some difficult matchups the last two weeks, Green Bay has taken some lumps in pass protection. If the offense is going to find some sort of consistency, it begins with better play up front.

Aaron Jones was limited all three days after tweaking his hamstring in the Saturday practice before the Raiders game. To know if Jones will play or not, look no further than this Saturday afternoon when practice squad elevations are announced. If James Robinson is not elevated, than Jones will play.

If Jones is a go and at full capacity, there is zero reason he shouldn’t have 20-plus touches in this game. For one, he is hopefully able to provide a spark to this stagnant Packers’ offense, but this is also a Denver defense that statistically is one of the worse in football, but they’ve particularly struggled to defend running backs, both as ball carriers and in the run game.

“I don’t have a crystal ball. I hope so. I do hope so,” Jones said on Wednesday about being able to provide the offense with a spark. “I hope this gives us a little confidence, but we know it takes all 11. I just know when I get in the huddle, the guys, they listen to me. They see me as a leader. So, I hope I can bring a spark to them and give them some confidence and we can just go out there and play.”

Even if we take the Miami game, where the Denver defense gave up 70 points, out of the equation, this is still statistically one of the worst defenses in the NFL. If Sunday’s game isn’t a get-back-on-track situation for the Packers’ offense, then I’m not sure what will be.