The Green Bay Packers announced their inactive players ahead of their matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here is what you need to know and the potential impact on today’s game.
The Packers will be without AJ Dillon, who is dealing with a broken thumb, but some good news is that Aaron Jones is back in the lineup. Joining him will be Patrick Taylor and Kenyan Drake who was elevated from the practice squad. This big question with Jones is what will his workload today look like? Will he be at full capacity or eased back in coming off an injury, with Taylor and Drake playing larger roles?
Either way, I could see Green Bay’s plan of attack against Tampa Bay being through the air. The Bucs boast one of the best run defenses in football, but are allowing the fourth-most yards per pass attempt this season, along with giving up the second-most explosive pass plays.
Christian Watson was listed as doubtful for today’s game on Friday, but the Packers will have Dontayvion Wicks, who was limited in practice the final two days and was questionable dealing with an ankle injury he sustained against New York.
While opponents have been able to move the ball on the Bucs’ defense between the 20-yard lines, where this group has excelled is in the red zone, allowing the fourth-lowest touchdown rate in the NFL. The Green Bay offense, meanwhile, ranks in the bottom third in success rate. This could be a game where Tucker Kraft is a focal point in the pass game. Tight ends, in particular, have given the Buccaneers fits this season.
Of note at the receiver position, with Samori Toure inactive, that means the team is going with Bo Melton as the fifth receiver. He was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday. Toure played 18 snaps and had four targets in New York. Perhaps Green Bay is going with Melton’s special teams upside.
Without Darnell Savage, Rudy Ford will get the start next to Jonathan Owens with Anthony Johnson as the backup and Zayne Anderson playing special teams. Outside of the obvious challenge that Mike Evans presents, Rachaad White has been one of the more productive pass-catching running backs this season.
That combination can present an added layer of stress for defenses. On any one play, you can only limit either Evans or White, and whoever you choose leaves you potentially exposed versus the other. The Green Bay safeties and linebackers are going to have to trust their eyes, read their keys correctly, and all 11 have to swarm to the pass catcher.
Jaire Alexander, who was questionable will be out. Alexander was a limited participant all three days, which has been the case in recent weeks. When Matt LaFleur was asked what needed to happen for Alexander to get back on the field, he said that confidence in his shoulder being able to hold up throughout the game was key.
Eric Stokes is available for today’s game. In Week 7 against Denver, he played four special teams snaps before suffering the hamstring injury that landed him on IR again. With Alexander out and Rasul Douglas in Buffalo, the cornerback room looks different today than what it did back then, so perhaps we see him on defense against Tampa Bay. My guess is that Corey Ballentine still starts with Stokes being worked in during obvious passing situations.
Lastly, as has been the case for much of the season, Brenton Cox and Caleb Jones are inactive as well. Cox is the fifth edge rusher option within a rotation that has predominantly used just four players, while Jones is the fourth option at offensive tackle.