The Green Bay Packers carried ten offensive linemen on their opening 53-man roster, but after one game, the team is deciding to add an eleventh to the roster. According to a report from Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network on Tuesday morning, the Packers will promote rookie offensive tackle Caleb Jones from the practice squad to the active roster.
Jones, who went undrafted in 2022 out of the University of Indiana, is listed at 6-foot-9 and 370 pounds, though reports indicated he was down around 340 in training camp. He had a solid preseason and was under heavy consideration for a spot on the initial 53, but that tenth slot on the line went instead to fellow rookie Rasheed Walker, a 7th-round draft pick. Both players played well in the preseason finale with Walker on the left side and Jones on the right, though Jones had also played well at left tackle earlier in the preseason.
Although the Packers had ten linemen on the 53, only eight were active on gameday in week one. The team sat down veteran tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins in their continued recoveries from ACL tears, and at least Bakhtiari is expected to sit out in week two as well. That left the team with Yosh Nijman and Royce Newman as the starting tackles against the Minnesota Vikings with Jake Hanson as the starting right guard. Newman and Hanson each allowed sacks in the game, with Hanson posting a particularly poor performance in general.
The Packers did suffer one injury on the line in week one, as left guard Jon Runyan, Jr. left the game with a concussion. The team substituted in rookie fourth-round pick Zach Tom in his place, but if Runyan misses time, not having Tom’s versatility and ability to play right tackle would affect the team’s depth at that position. That could be one factor in favor of bringing Jones onto the 53, though teams are allowed to elevate players from the practice squad for up to three games.
It is also possible that another team was considering signing Jones to their 53-man roster off the Packers’ practice squad, in which case Green Bay would lose him entirely. There are no protections against teams signing players from other team’s practice squads in 2022, so the only way the Packers could ensure that he will stay in the organization is to sign him to the active roster.
In order to make room for Jones, the Packers will need to open up a spot on the 53. The most likely scenario is placing linebacker Krys Barnes on injured reserve following the ankle injury he suffered on Sunday in Minnesota. Barnes reportedly has a calf injury and a high ankle sprain — likely a better outcome than the broken ankle that was feared during the game but one that would keep him out for at least a month. With players eligible to return from IR after a minimum of four games, a stint on that list seems inevitable for Barnes, whose injury is not expected to be season-ending.
Stay tuned this afternoon for confirmation on Jones’ promotion and the corresponding roster move.