The Green Bay Packers announced on Saturday that safety Innis Gaines and outside linebacker Kobe Jones would be elevated from the practice squad to play against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football. This is the first time that either of those players have been elevated in 2022.
For whatever reason, the Packers have been a lot more conservative in terms of their practice squad elevations this year. With an allotted two practice squad elevations per week, Green Bay had chosen to use them both just twice — in Week 1 and Week 3.
Last week, the only player the Packers elevated was outside linebacker La’Darius Hamilton. It’s interesting that Green Bay elected to have Jones for this game rather than Hamilton. Jones has not played in an NFL regular season game in his career. Hamilton played 14 snaps on defense and 11 snaps on special teams last week.
The call-up of an outside linebacker is likely a safety net in case Rashan Gary (questionable) does not pass concussion protocol. Last week, outside linebacker Jonathan Garvin was a healthy scratch. The other outside linebackers on the 53-man roster are Preston Smith and rookie Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare.
Gaines returned to the Packers in Week 7 after an injury led to his release from the team during training camp. Despite being back with the team for a short amount of time, the Packers must be confident in his ability to contribute on special teams. Gaines played five snaps of special teams last season. With cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles (ankle) officially ruled out, that opens up some playing time on special teams. Jean-Charles has played 72 of his 75 snaps in 2022 on special teams.
One move that the Packers didn’t make was elevating a receiver, which is a good sign for Christian Watson (hamstring, questionable) playing tomorrow. With Allen Lazard (shoulder) already ruled out and Randall Cobb (ankle) on the injured reserve, Watson missing the game would mean that Green Bay would only have four receivers available against the Bills.
The Packers do technically have an open roster spot on their 53-man roster, though, meaning that they could promote one of their practice squad receivers tomorrow by bringing them onto the 53-man roster. Juwann Winfree, Travis Fulgham and Kawaan Baker are the team’s practice squad receivers. Winfree has been elevated from the practice squad three times this season.