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Packers sign former 2nd-round draft pick Nate Orchard to practice squad

The Packers are further bolstering the pass rush with a former second-round draft pick from 2015.

Cleveland Browns v Detroit Lions

With the Green Bay Packers losing Whitney Mercilus to a season-ending injury two weeks ago and seeing Rashan Gary day-to-day with a hyperextended elbow, the group of edge rushers on the field for the team last week lacked significant star power. Preston Smith was the only well-known player to suit up against the Minnesota Vikings, as the Packers made do with Tipa Galeai and Jonathan Garvin opposite him.

Now, Garvin is on the reserve/COVID-19 list and will likely miss Sunday’s upcoming game against the Los Angeles Rams. With yet another absence on the edge, the Packers will likely elevate La’Darius Hamilton from the practice squad to play on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. But that leaves the team with just three edge rushers available — or it did until Thursday morning.

A street free agent has reason to be thankful on this Thanksgiving Day, as the Packers have signed Nate Orchard to their practice squad. The Packers announced the move this morning along with the corresponding transaction, the release of running back Kerrith Whyte off the practice squad.

Orchard, who played his college football for the University of Utah, was a second-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns back in 2015 after recording a whopping 18.5 sacks as a senior. He started 11 games as a rookie, recording three sacks and an interception, and in total he has played in 46 NFL games over the past six seasons.

However, just 12 of those NFL games have come in the past three seasons. Orchard has spent time with a total of eight different teams since 2018, playing games for the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Football Team.

Orchard is unlikely to see playing time this Sunday, particularly if Rashan Gary ends up being available to play. However, this move gives the Packers a player with some substantial NFL experience waiting in the wings in case of emergency.