After being on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for the first six weeks of the season, Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes will be added to the 53-man roster, according to Packer Central’s Bill Huber.
Stokes suffered a torn meniscus and Lisfranc injury during the Packers’ Week 9 matchup with Detroit last season. He returned to practice on October 3rd, and the deadline to add him back to the active roster was October 24th.
Stokes will return to the Packers’ lineup with some uncertainty around Jaire Alexander’s status for Sunday’s game in Denver. Alexander was a late addition to the injury report this week with a back injury. He did not participate in Friday’s practice.
However, even if Alexander can’t go, that doesn’t mean Stokes is going to be thrust back into the starting lineup either.
"“We’ll acclimate him back in there, I would say, carefully,” said Matt LaFleur earlier in the week. “It’s not going to be like you go from not playing for over a year to you’re playing every snap in a game. So, we’ll have a plan for that. We do have a plan for that.”"
When Alexander was out in Weeks 3 and 4 against Detroit, we saw Carrington Valentine and Corey Ballentine both operate on the boundary across from Rasul Douglas. The Packers seemed to prefer Ballentine over Valentine during potential running situations. Perhaps Stokes could see some snaps when the offense is in obvious passing situations, similar to how Rashan Gary was acclimated back at the edge rusher position.
Once Stokes is able to be back on a normal pitch count, how the Packers navigate playing time at the cornerback position is a bit of an unknown. I go into greater detail here, but in short, I would guess that when in their base nickel defense, we still see Douglas, Alexander, and Keisean Nixon on the field. When in nickel on obvious passing downs, Stokes could step in and also be out there in dime situations as well.
"“Man, it’s a relief, honestly,” said Stokes on Friday. “11-and-a-half months. Dang near 12. Dang near a year of just not being out there. So, at the end of the day, I (don’t) take that for granted. A rep, any little thing, I’m out there going 110 percent, like it don’t matter. I’ve been on the sideline. Been in a wheelchair. Been on crutches. I’ve been through so much stuff it’s been a rollercoaster ride. So, any little moment I’m out there, I’m (not) taking that for granted.”"
With Stokes being added back to the 53-man roster, that means a corresponding roster move to make room for him is releasing edge rusher Justin Hollins, just as the team did prior to the Las Vegas game to make room for Patrick Taylor at that time. Brenton Cox will now step into that fifth edge rusher role, which likely won’t see a ton of playing time with Gary continuing to work his way back.
Last season, prior to the injury, Stokes allowed 21 completions on 25 targets at 13.1 yards per catch. He did not record a pass breakup or an interception.
"“It’s a lot that I took away from last year,” said Stokes. “Just rule No. 1, just communication. Figuring out everyone else pretty much in the room. So the safeties, how the corners react, how Kei will do some things. Just learning more about everybody else, and they’re learning things about me. Just learning things that I like to do, what I want to do, or how we do it here. Just being more vocal. Taking more, I wouldn’t say a leader role, but just being more vocal and letting people know how I feel.”"