On Friday, the Green Bay Packers announced that outside linebacker Tipa Galeai and receiver Christian Watson will both miss Week 6’s action against the New York Jets due to hamstring injuries. Neither player was able to suit up for a single practice in preparation for the Jets this week. Head coach Matt LaFleur even mentioned the possibility that Watson, who is dealing with his second hamstring injury of the season already, might be shut down while he recovers.
Instead, on Saturday, the team announced that Galeai was placed on the injured reserve, which means that he will miss at least the next four games before he’s eligible to return. NFL teams are allowed a maximum of eight players to designate for return from the injured reserve in a season. Galeai now joins safety Vernon Scott, inside linebacker Krys Barnes and receiver Sammy Watkins on the JR.
Galeai hasn’t played a single snap of defensive football for the team in 2022, but he has played 85 snaps (66 percent) on special teams. That mark is good for the fourth-most on the Packers behind just tight end Tyler Davis, safety Dallin Leavitt and inside linebacker Isaiah McDuffie. The most important position he plays is left tackle on punt protection, which is a unit that has already had to deal with some shuffling. Due to Barnes’ injury, tight end Josiah Deguara has had to move from the wing to guard and running back Patrick Taylor, who was promoted off of the practice squad in-season, has filled in as the wing in Deguara’s place. It’s uncertain who will replace Galeai on the unit, but the recent signing of inside linebacker Eric Wilson may help in that regard.
The fact that Watson wasn’t also placed on injured reserve today is a positive sign, but that doesn’t mean that the team has much to work with at receiver against the Jets, either. With both Watson and Watkins now out, the team has elevated Juwann Winfree to the gameday roster, which will be his third and final elevation from the practice squad this season. If the team wants to play Winfree in another game in 2022, they’ll now have to promote him to the 53-man roster. For whatever reason, the team has kept him on the practice squad despite Winfree routinely out-snapping returner Amari Rodgers and rookie draft pick Samori Toure, who has yet to be activated for a game.
The team did not promote one of their two practice squad pass-rushers, which probably bodes well for outside linebacker Rashan Gary (toe) playing on Sunday. LaFleur stated that he was concerned with Gary’s toe injury, which limited him on Thursday and kept him out of practice on Friday. If Gary misses the game against the Jets, the Packers will only have three healthy outside linebackers (Preston Smith, rookie Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare and Jonathan Garvin) available to choose from on their 53-man roster.
Green Bay does have an open roster spot now, which means the team could, in theory, promote one of those practice squad linebackers directly to the 53-man roster tomorrow. That would allow either La’Darius Hamilton or Kobe Jobes to play against the Jets without exhausting one of their three weeks of practice squad elevations so early on in the season.