Packers rookie running back Kylin Hill will miss the rest of the 2021 season due to the knee injury that occurred on a kickoff against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Hill, who was a rotational running back, saw the majority of his playing time on special teams, where he was the team’s starting kick returner.
Hill had a promising preseason for a seventh-round pick but was buried behind Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon in the backfield, resulting in him only having 10 of the unit’s 182 carries up to this point in the season. Hopefully, Hill returns to prior strength in 2022 after a hard hit on a kickoff left him and the tackler on the ground for two Fox Injury Music breaks.
In terms of the running back snaps, the Packers have the option to bring up Patrick Taylor Jr., who spent the majority of his rookie season of 2020 on the NFI list, from the practice squad. While Taylor has not played in a regular-season game for the Packers, he played well in the preseason and brings a pass-catching and downhill-running skillset to the field with a 6’2”, 217-pound frame. It seems more likely that the team calls up Taylor than signs a free agent back, as Taylor was a roster-bubble player during final cuts, knows the system, and can contribute on special teams.
The Packers will also need to replace Hill’s contributions as a return man, as he is credited for 10 of the team’s 11 kick returns up to this point in 2021. In the preseason, the team’s two returnmen on kickoff were Hill and running back Dexter Williams, who was released at roster cutdowns and is a street free agent at the moment. Williams hung on the New York Giants’ practice squad for a few weeks but was released on September 22nd.
If we’re playing the guessing game of who steps up in place of Hill as a kickoff returner, my bets would be rookie receiver Amari Rodgers or Taylor, if Taylor is called up from the practice squad.