The bad news out of the Green Bay Packers’ 51-34 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday was that two starters and one player who appears to be earning a roster spot all left the game with injuries.
Running back Jamaal Williams exited with an ankle injury after an awkward tackle. Right guard Justin McCray left with an unspecified leg injury suffered at the bottom of a pile. And wide receiver Jake Kumerow appeared to injure his shoulder on a barrel roll into the end zone at the end of his 82-yard touchdown.
But here’s the good news: all of those injuries appear to be minor. Media reports after player and coach interviews following the game indicate that none of these issues are serious:
#Packers RB Jamaal Williams said a Steelers defender twisted his ankle at the end of a tackle, but injury isn't significant.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 17, 2018
RG Justin McCray said his calf caught a cleat, but he's OK.
WR Jake Kumerow got a shoulder stinger somersaulting into end zone, should be fine.
Based on these reports, it sounds like Williams’ ankle issue may be the most serious, but even that one is deemed as “not significant.” That’s a welcome update after these key players all left the game.
At running back, the Packers already have Aaron Jones limited with a hamstring injury, and he faces a two-game suspension to start the season. Ty Montgomery’s effectiveness has been minimal as a runner through two preseason games, so hopefully Williams will be able to return to the field quickly.
The right guard position would be a problem as well if McCray were to miss time in the regular season. Lucas Patrick would likely take over at that spot, but that would rob the Packers of significant depth on the interior line. In that case, general manager Brian Gutekunst might decide to call up last year’s starter, Jahri Evans, who remains on the free agent market and has not retired. However, this does not appear to be necessary at this point.
If Kumerow’s injury were serious, that would be the easiest blow to absorb. After all, he is in a fight for a roster spot and the fourth wide receiver job with the team’s trio of rookie draft picks. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown have flashed in camp and could probably take over that role if necessary. Kumerow’s production and reported connection with Aaron Rodgers in camp has been impressive, but he is not an irreplaceable piece on this roster. Still, he should be ready to return for practice on Monday given this news.
All told, the Packers appear to have emerged from Thursday’s game relatively healthy. Here’s hoping that trend stays that way over the final two weeks of the preseason.