Injury-Prone Packer May Finally Be Turning the Corner

The return of Eric Stokes could help Green Bay take a big step forward in 2024
Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes (21) is carted off the field during the first half against Detroit Lions at Ford Field, Nov. 6, 2022.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes (21) is carted off the field during the first half against Detroit Lions at Ford Field, Nov. 6, 2022. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK / USA

Green Bay Packers 2021 first-round pick Eric Stokes has struggled to stay on the field since a Lisfranc injury sidelined his 2022 season.

That appears to be in the past, with the former Georgia Bulldog cornerback telling reporters this week that he feels even faster than he was before.

Considering that Stokes ran a 4.25 second 40-yard dash coming out of college, this could be huge news for the Packers.

A Healthy Stokes is Exactly what the Packers Need

Green Bay had issues with injuries to its secondary last season, but still finished 9-8 and made the playoffs. 

Now with a healthy – and fortified – secondary, Green Bay could be poised to take a step forward in 2024.

Stokes played in just three games as hamstring injuries kept him off the field.

But he showed promise in his rookie season in 2021, totaling 55 tackles, one interception and 14 pass deflections. If he can return to that form – or even better – the Packers could have one of the better secondaries in the NFL.

The early signs are encouraging.

“I think he’s as good as I’ve ever seen him,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Stokes. “Both mentally, and on the field. I want to temper the expectations with that, but I do really mean that. He’s out there competing each and every day. He looks fully healthy. He’s doing a great job of challenging our wide receivers. He’s always in great phase, and I think you see that personality is back.”

There’s good reason to believe that Stokes will stay on the field this time around, too. 

Stokes said a recent visit to Badger Athletic Performance revealed that his foot wasn’t strong enough to support him last season – leading to his hamstring injuries. 

After spending the offseason strengthening his feet and legs, there should be nothing slowing him down this fall. 

“It was dealing with everything from the foot injury that I had,” Stokes told reporters this week. “It was bouncing back from that. It’s crazy how everything is connected in your body to where if one area is weak, the other parts of your body will try to take control, or put more workload on it.”

But it wasn’t just Stokes’s absence that hampered the Green Bay secondary last season.

Star corner Jaire Alexander played in just seven games as injuries to his back and shoulder slowed him down. 

Now, both of those players appear poised for bounce-back seasons.

Adding not only a healthy Stokes and Alexander, but also safeties Xavier McKinney and second-round pick Javon Bullard (Georgia) should turn the secondary into a position of strength for Green Bay. 

That will be needed in a division with high-octane offenses such as the Lions and Bears.

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