Both players listed as questionable on the Packers’ final injury report before their trip to Jacksonville are going to be available today, according to Green Bay’s inactive list. Starting outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (back) is getting the nod after not practicing on Friday while rotational defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster (back) has also been cleared to play.
Safety Vernon Scott will miss the game due to a hamstring issue, but he was listed as “out” earlier in the week as he continued to miss practice. The four players other than Scott who are inactive today, Shemar Jean-Charles, Jake Hanson, Jack Heflin, and Isaiah McDuffie, tell an interesting story.
Three of those players are rookie defenders, while Hanson is theoretically the team’s second-team center. If an injury were to occur to Josh Meyers, the Packers would likely slide either Elgton Jenkins (starting at left tackle) or Lucas Patrick (starting at left guard) to the center position today. Yoshua Nijman (left tackle) or Jon Runyan (guard) would then replace whoever went to center.
Helfin being inactive establishes a pecking order of Lancaster and fellow rookie TJ Slaton above him on the depth chart. Jean-Charles is Chandon Sullivan’s backup in the slot defensively, a position that will be monitored closely. Should Sullivan go down, the Packers very well could play Jaire Alexander as the slot, with Kevin King and Eric Stokes being better suited as outside-only cornerbacks, due to the fact that the team only has three safeties active today with Scott still out.
McDuffie missed a significant portion of the preseason but flashed once he got on the field. It’s more interesting that the Green Bay is going into the game with five active outside linebackers and four inside linebackers than analyzing why McDuffie, specifically, wasn’t activated today. Is it because of Za’Darius Smith’s projected pitch count? Typically, inside linebackers are more significant contributors on special teams than outside linebackers, the typical tie-breaker between healthy scratches.
Full Inactives List vs New Orleans Saints:
- #22 Shemar Jean-Charles, CB
- #36 Vernon Scott, S
- #58 Isaiah McDuffie, ILB
- #67 Jake Hanson, C
- #90 Jack Heflin, DL