The Green Bay Packers’ preseason game didn’t even kick off yet and the team already suffered an injury. According to multiple media reports, Packers rookie inside linebacker Oren Burks injured his shoulder during pregame warm ups.
Given that the Packers are already without Jake Ryan for the entire 2018 season, they can ill afford any additional injuries at inside linebacker. It is unclear how many time (if any) Burks will miss, but Green Bay almost certainly will need to look outside the organization if there is any chance the rookie won’t be ready for Week 1.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said Burks was in line for a lot of playing time as a rookie, so this is a potentially devastating blow to his defense. As for tonight, Ahmad Thomas and Greer Martini will likely get the bulk of the workload in Burks’ place.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel speculated early on that the injury may have been a dislocated shoulder. However, Burks was not wearing a sling at kickoff, so there is no firm diagnosis or confirmation as to the extent of his injury for the time being.
As for any potential outside replacements, Navarro Bowman is a popular name that has been linked to the Packers in recent weeks. Green Bay could move Clay Matthews inside more but they’d still likely prefer to utilize his skills as a pass rusher full-time.
Regardless, this is not an injury the Packers need right now. Let’s just hope it’s not severe.