On Thursday, Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary popped up on the injury report with a toe injury. Over five games, Gary has registered five sacks, which has placed him firmly in the Defensive Player of the Year running.
In the pre-practice press conference on Friday, head coach Matt LaFleur was asked about Gary’s status following the pass-rusher’s limited participation yesterday. LaFleur stated, “I don’t know the extent of it. We’ll see if he can go to practice today, but definitely a little concerned about that.”
When asked about the players who would have to fill in for Gary if he cannot suit up against the New York Jets this week, LaFleur replied, “Hey, it’s the next man up. The standard doesn’t change, but let’s face it the guy is pretty impactful — I’d say — when he’s out on the grass. So, certainly, he’s a guy we definitely want in there and when he’s not in there you can feel the effects of that.”
The head man would go on to say that rookie fifth-round pick Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare has made some progress but is still a rookie. As far as the outside linebackers go, Preston Smith has played 239 snaps of defense this year, Gary has played 214, Engabare has played 66 and Jonathan Garvin has played 52. Despite playing 85 special teams snaps, Tipa Galeai, who played 152 defensive snaps in 2021, has not registered a single snap on defense this season. Galeai is also on the injury report this week with a hamstring injury that held him out of practice completely on both Wednesday and Thursday.
Besides mentioning that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will play and shouldn’t be impacted by his thumb injury, the other injury that LaFleur was asked about on Friday was receiver Christian Watson’s hamstring injury. After missing a good portion of summer practices while recovering from a knee surgery, the Packers’ rookie second-round pick missed Week 3’s action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a hamstring issue that appears to have flared up again. When asked if shutting down Watson was a possibility, LaFleur replied, “Yeah, I think that’s certainly on the table. We’ll see kinda where he’s at. I know they’re still doing some testing and whatnot with him.”
Watson played 40 offensive snaps in the season-opening game against the Minnesota Vikings but has only played 58 snaps since then. Recently, Watson took over as the team’s kick returner, a job receiver Amari Rodgers once held, up until his injury.
If Watson can’t play against the Jets, it will leave the team with just Allen Lazard, Romeo Doubs, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers and Samori Toure at the position on the 53-man roster, as Sammy Watkins is already on the injured reserve. Toure has yet to be activated for a game while Rodgers has played 48 of his 53 snaps this season on special teams. The team has already elevated practice squad receiver Juwann Winfree twice to the gameday roster this season, meaning he’s only eligible to be called up for one more game in 2022 before the squad has to promote him to the 53-man roster to play him.