Packers v. Steelers final injury report: Jaire Alexander doubtful

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 09: Cornerback Jaire Alexander #23 of the Green Bay Packers looks down field against the Las Vegas Raiders in the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium on October 09, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Packers 17-13. (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 09: Cornerback Jaire Alexander #23 of the Green Bay Packers looks down field against the Las Vegas Raiders in the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium on October 09, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Packers 17-13. (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images) /

Following Friday’s practice, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur announced the final injury report heading into Sunday’s matchup with Pittsburgh. Here is what you need to know.

Packers injury report

Jaire Alexander – Doubtful

Quay Walker – Doubtful

Kenny Clark – Questionable

Rudy Ford – Questionable

Josh Myers – Questionable

Yosh Nijman – Questionable

Jon Runyan – Questionable

Neither Alexander nor Walker practiced at all this week. Alexander suffered a left shoulder injury against Los Angeles in third quarter when diving to break up a pass. Walker is still dealing with a groin injury that popped up late last week.

"“He’s a hell of a player,” said LaFleur on Friday of Alexander. “He’s one of the best in the business. Anytime you don’t have him, it doesn’t necessarily help your team.”"

Without Alexander, an already thin cornerback group for the Packers will be shorthanded. With Keisean Nixon in the slot and Carrington Valentine on the boundary, Corey Ballentine lies likely to be the other starter for Green Bay. Ballentine has played 80 defensive snaps this season, allowing four receptions on six targets at just over 12 yards perch. He’s proved to be a very willing tackler as well.

"”What I love about him,” said LaFleur about Ballentine, “no matter the situation he’s going to go out there and compete to the best of his ability and that’s all you can really ask of anybody. When he’s had opportunities, there were a couple plays in that New Orleans game that stand out in my mind, where he made plays on the ball, whether it was a PBU or whatnot. He does a great job everyday in practice, so that gives us a lot of confidence in him.”"

In Walker’s absence, we will continue to see Isaiah McDuffie get the start next to De’Vondre Campbell with Eric Wilson getting some snaps in obvious passing situations. McDuffie is coming off his best performance of the season against the Rams, where he was very good against the run.

When LaFleur was asked if there was any long-term concern with Walker’s injury, he said that wasn’t the case.

This is a Steelers offense that has struggled to get the run game going this season, averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per attempt, but running back Jaylen Warren and George Pickens on intermediate routes have been a big part of the passing game. McDuffie and Campbell will play key roles in trying to muddy things up over the middle.

Of those who are questionable, Clark and Ford practiced all week in a limited capacity. Clark left Sunday’s game in the first half with a shoulder injury that at the time, LaFleur said wasn’t expected to be long-term.

The Packers run defense has fared well the last two games, but if without Clark, Jonathan Ford would likely be elevated, along with either Devonte Wyatt, Colby Wooden, or Karl Brooks taking on larger early down roles. Along with the Steelers offense struggling to get the run game going, their offensive line has had issues in pass protection as well.

Ford missed last week’s game with a calf injury and in his place was rookie seventh rounder Anthony Johnson. If Ford can go, I would expect him and Jonathan Owens to be the starters with Johnson seeing snaps when in dime. In addition to the linebackers clogging up the middle of the field, the safeties will have to play a key role in this as well. Hopefully, we see them playing closer to the line of scrimmage to help take away those short-area and intermediate throws with Kenny Pickett not often pushing the ball downfield.

"“I think they’ve got a lot of playmakers,” said LaFleur of the Pittsburgh offense. “I know there’s been some inconsistencies there with their offense. Certainly you can never sleep on them. They’ve got playmakers. I think all three of those receivers are really good players. Pickens, he has shown that big play potential. Diontae Johnson.“Obviously, Najee, he’s a problem in terms of just a big physical back. And they got Warren, the other back. They’ve got a lot of playmakers. You’ve got to do a great job of being consistent and not letting those guys get loose.”"

Nijman left Sunday’s game with a back injury after getting the start over Rasheed Walker, who filled in well, and had his best performance in several weeks. Nijman did not practice on Wednesday, but was limited the other two days. Given Walker’s play against the Rams, it will be interesting to see who the Packers give the starting left tackle snaps to.

Runyan briefly exited the Rams game for a series and was listed with a neck injury on this week’s report. He too missed Wednesday’s practice but was limited Thursday and Friday. In his place for that one drive was Sean Rhyan, who held up very well in the run game. Although Runyan has been inconsistent this season, I still would expect him to get the start over Rhyan. I go into greater detail on that line of thinking here.

The Packers offensive line this week is going to be tested going up against TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith at edge rusher, and the sixth ranked defense in pressure rate this season. As we saw against Los Angeles, with the offensive line having its best performance in a month-plus, success for Jordan Love and the offense as a whole begins there. Not coincidentally, with time in the pocket and a run game to lean on, Love was quite efficient.

"“TJ’s relentless,” said Matt LaFleur on Wednesday. ”He’s one of those game-wreckers I was talking about. Then on the other side, Highsmith, he’s a baller as well. Not to mention all the guys they got on the interior line. Obviously, (Cameron) Heyward has been doing it for a long time at a really elite level, and they just got him back last week.“Their front is a problem. Not only by what they ask them t do, but they’re big, athletic, and just creat a lot of issues, not only in the run game but in the pass game, obviously, for an offense.”"