Though the Green Bay Packers largely avoided injuries in their preseason opener, inside linebacker Oren Burks did leave early with an apparent upper-body injury. Now, it appears he has a difficult recovery ahead of him. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the team believes Burks suffered a torn pectoral muscle that will sideline him indefinitely.
If the Packers confirm a torn pectoral for Burks, it will mark his second significant injury in two preseasons. The linebacker dislocated his shoulder before an exhibition against the Raiders last August, and though it didn’t prevent him from playing, the injury relegated Burks to mostly special-teams work. A torn pectoral muscle would put Burks’ 2019 campaign at risk, leaving a void in the starting defense.
With Burks likely on the shelf for an extended period of time, the Packers will first turn to one of their in-house options. Rookies Ty Summers and Curtis Bolton each performed impressively in their preseason debuts and possess athletic traits similar to those of Burks. Safeties Josh Jones and Raven Greene have each practiced at linebacker during training camp and could factor into the equation as well.
Green Bay could also look outside the organization for a solution. Veteran linebacker Mason Foster became a free agent on the eve of training camp and has worked with Packers inside-linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti over the past four years in Washington. Antonio Morrison, whom the Packers waived in March, remains available and played significant snaps in Mike Pettine’s defense last season. General manager Brian Gutekunst could also look to the trade market, something he has done with regularity since taking over the team in 2017.