Amid frustrations relating to injuries in last week’s game in Winnipeg, the Green Bay Packers received some encouraging news on a player who was hurt a few weeks earlier. That player is linebacker Oren Burks, the team’s third-round draft pick in 2018 and their planned starter at inside linebacker next to Blake Martinez.
Initially, reports feared that Burks had suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the Packers’ preseason opener against the Houston Texans. However, later indications were that the team did not think that the injury was that severe, but that they also could not narrow down a timetable for his return.
On Monday, however, it seems that the team has a better idea after consulting a multitude of medical resources. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Burks’ injury will not keep him out for the season, and that in fact he may not need to go on injured reserve after final cuts. That last item suggests that Burks would likely be able to return sometime in the first half of the season, as an IR stint would require him to sit out at least eight weeks.
Burks’ return took on added importance this week after his replacement, undrafted rookie Curtis Bolton, suffered an injury of his own last Thursday. Bolton’s knee injury does not have a clear timeline at this time, and he appears to be an injured reserve candidate as well.
The Packers appear poised to utilize safety Raven Greene heavily in Burks’ and Bolton’s absences, as he has taken significant snaps in a nickel/dime linebacker role. However, a potential Burks return would be a welcome sight, given the lack of depth at linebacker. It is also possible that the Packers will be in the market for acquiring additional help at that position, either through a trade or on waivers after final cuts. However, if Burks can return in the first month of the season, that likely lessens the urgency of that need.