It seemed serious when Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Krys Barnes went down with an injury on Sunday. Not only did he need an air cast to stabilize a lower right leg injury, but he was carted off the field surrounded by the entire Packers roster that had worked its way onto the field to show their support of Barnes.
Thankfully, Barnes has seemingly avoided a major injury. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Barnes’ injuries against the Minnesota Vikings were a high ankle sprain and a “calf injury,” which Pelissero stated on Monday may only take a few weeks to return from.
Barnes was one of four players to leave the Packers’ 23-7 loss with an injury, though, his injury felt the most significant at the time. Beyond Barnes, guard Jon Runyan Jr. (concussion), inside linebacker Quay Walker (shoulder) and cornerback Keisean Nixon (shoulder) also left the game and never returned due to injuries. At the moment, there have been no updates on the other three players.
De’Vondre Campbell and Walker started at inside linebacker during the game, but when Walker went down with his shoulder injury, Barnes came off the bench as his replacement. Barnes played nine defensive snaps on Sunday, mostly coming as Walker’s replacement. Still, he also played a couple of snaps in 4-3 looks that the Packers sprinkled in defensively which saw all three of Green Bay’s top off-ball linebackers on the field at the same time. In the absence of Walker and Barnes, following their injuries, Isaiah McDuffie played six snaps defensively as the Packers were down to their last inside linebacker on their game-day roster.
Barnes also played 15 snaps on special teams in Week 1, maybe most notably as a guard on punt protection. The Packers essentially use their inside linebackers as their offensive line on punt team, with the exception of outside linebacker Tipa Galeai playing left tackle. When Walker, who had been starting on the unit at right tackle, left the game with an injury, the 2021 All-Pro Campbell replaced him at the position. Green Bay did not punt following Barnes’ injury, so we never got a look at what the punt unit could look like with only two inside linebackers left in the game.
Following the injuries of Barnes and Walker, there’s a good chance that the Packers end up elevating inside linebacker Ray Wilborn from the practice squad on Saturday as one of their two available promotions that do not count against their 53-man roster. Wilborn is Green Bay’s only inside linebacker on the practice squad and has been with the Packers since January of 2021.