Following Friday’s practice, Matt LaFleur announced the Green Bay Packers final injury designations prior to their Sunday Night matchup with Kansas City. Here is what you need to know.
Packers Final Injury Report
Jaire Alexander (shoulder) – Questionable
De’Vondre Campbell (neck) – Questionable
Josiah Deguara (hip) – Questionable
Rudy Ford (biceps) – Questionable
Aaron Jones (knee) – Out
Darnell Savage (calf) – Questionable
Eric Stokes (hamstring) – Doubtful
Robert Rochell (calf) – Questionable
Dontayvion Wicks (knee) – Questionable
Jayden Reed (chest) – Questionable
Jaire Alexander and Rudy Ford are both listed as questionable, but are trending in the right direction. When defensive coordinator Joe Barry met with the media on Thursday, he mentioned that both Alexander and Ford had put together two good days of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and went into practice each day feeling good.
”I guess we will see how he got through today and where he’s at on Sunday,” said LaFleur on Friday. “I think he’s done a good job of trying to help and encourage the other guys. Certainly you’d always want a guy of his caliber out on the field. It makes you a better football team. But just control what you can control, and if you’re out there, you’re out there, and if you’re not, how can you help serve the other guys that are out there playing.”
Also, listed as questionable is Darnell Savage, who was designated to return from IR last week. However, while questionable, Savage was a full participant each day of practice this week—a good sign for Sunday. Savage still has to be added to the 53-man roster from IR, where currently, Green Bay has two openings.
“He’s really matured, as a football and as a man. His leadership has really shown through this year. I think he is one of the main leaders, especially in the DB room but also on our football team. He’s had a great attitude all through the course of the offseason and into this year. It would certainly be nice to get him back.”
The Packers defensive backs are going to have a difficult challenge going up against Patrick Mahomes this week. For starters, connection between him and tight end Travis Kielce is unmatched, but also, while the members of the secondary have to be mindful of Mahomes’ ability to push the ball down the field and make any throw, this is Kansas City offense that utilizes a lot of short-area throws where the pass-catchers have been the best in football at picking up YAC. Not to mention that as we all know, Mahomes is fantastic when going off-script.
Sticking with the secondary, after missing two days of practice, Robert Rochell is questionable and Eric Stokes is doubtful. Stokes just returned to practice this week and is still on IR. At a minimum, he is going to need a week or two to ramp up before he will be back out on the football field.
Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell is again questionable. After leaving the Los Angeles game with a stinger, he would miss the Detroit game. If he can’t go, Isaiah McDuffie will fill in for him as he has done on several occasions this season. Tackling against the YAC-heavy Chiefs will be at a premium, with all 11 defenders reading and reacting to their keys appropriately, along with swarming to the ball carrier. The linebackers, specifically, will be key in limiting those YAC opportunities.
Josiah Degauara returned to practice this week in a limited fashion, still working through a hip injury he suffered against Los Angeles. A tell on whether or not Deguara will be available will be if the Packers elevate fullback Henry Pearson from the practice squad on Saturday.
Without Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft has taken over the TE1 duties, while Ben Sims has taken on a larger role as a blocker. If Deguara can go, my guess is that he still primarily fills that fullback role, perhaps with some additional in-line snaps sprinkled in. This is a Kansas City defense that blitzes at the sixth-highest rate in football and does a good job of disguising where it’s coming from.
“If you watch them,” said quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, “they are a blitzing defense. They’ll show you things coming from one side and bring it from another side. They’ll blitz all out and not have a safety in the middle of the field and they’ll do it at any time.”
Not surprisingly, with Aaron Jones not practicing this week, he is not going to play on Sunday. The Packers have struggled to get the run game going this season, especially without Jones available, but that is where the Chiefs have been susceptible defensively in recent weeks. Against a blitz-heavy opponent with an aggressive secondary, the run game may have to help shoulder some of that offensive workload this week.
At receiver, both Dontayvion Wicks and Jayden Reed are questionable. Reed is still dealing with a chest injury he sustained early in the Chargers game. When speaking with the media at his locker on Thursday, Reed didn’t believe that the injury would affect his status for Sunday, but what he needed to help heal was time and rest. Reed did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but was a limited participant on Friday.
”He was out there in a limited basis,” said LaFleur, “and we will see where he goes.”
Wicks missed the Detroit game still in concussion protocol. He has since been cleared, but was listed all week with a knee injury. He practiced in a limited capacity all three days. In Wicks’ absence against the Lions, an efficient performance from a Malik Heath and a breakout game from Christian Watson helped cover his absence. The combination of Reed and Wicks have helped spark this Green Bay offense in recent weeks with their reliability and ability to create chunk plays—an element this unit was missing for much of the season.
Kansas City Chiefs Final Injury Report
LB Nick Bolton (wrist) – Out
RB Jerrick McKinnon (groin) – Questionable