In his post-practice presser on Wednesday, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur confirmed that both safety Darnell Savage (calf) and cornerback Eric Stokes (hamstring) would be going on injured reserve. On Monday, it was reported by ESPN’s Rob Demovsky that Savage was likely to go on IR, but the Stokes news comes as somewhat of a surprise.
Savage has played all six of the Packers’ games this year, but was only on the field for 56 percent of the defensive snaps against the Las Vegas Raiders and 51 percent of the snaps against the Denver Broncos — Green Bay’s last two games — due to a calf injury. Savage was initially replaced by rookie seventh-round pick Anthony Johnson Jr. in the lineup against Denver, with Jonathan Owens playing the second nickelback in dime defense, before Owens took over the position.
Stokes injured his knee and foot on a single play against the Detroit Lions last November, which ended his 2022 campaign prematurely. After battling through his Lisfranc recovery, Stokes apparently had a setback when he injured his hamstring during summer practices — which is one reason why he began the season on the physically unable-to-perform list.
Stokes was finally activated off of the PUP list on Saturday, but only played four special teams snaps for the Packers before his hamstring once again gave him an issue. On the topic of Savage returning, LaFleur stated, “Hopefully we’ll get him back in a couple of weeks.” LaFleur also said that Stokes “absolutely” should return to the team later in the season.
In the short term, the Packers are short-handed at cornerback. Green Bay finished their game against the Broncos with just three healthy cornerbacks: Rasul Douglas, rookie seventh-round pick Carrington Valentine and nickelback Keisean Nixon — as Jaire Alexander missed action with a back injury.
To make up for some of those cornerback questions, the Packers added two cornerbacks to their 53-man roster with the roster spots that were vacated by the placement of Savage and Stokes on the injured reserve. First, the team promoted cornerback Corey Ballentine, who had previously been called up three times from the practice squad for gamedays this season. Second, the team added Robert Rochell from the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad, Green Bay’s first practice squad “poach” of the year.
Robert Rochell was drafted with pick 130 of round 4 in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.65 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 63 out of 1790 CB from 1987 to 2021. https://t.co/JxjlkVTpHr #RAS #Rams pic.twitter.com/GZOypIn1az— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 1, 2021
Rochell was originally a fourth-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams back in 2021 out of Central Arkansas. Coming out of college, the 6’0” cornerback ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash and had an elite 43” vertical jump. After playing 234 defensive snaps as a rookie (to just 39 special teams reps), Rochell was placed on injured reserve for a chest injury.
In his second NFL season, Rochell transitioned to a special teams role, playing 325 special teams snaps to just 26 defensive snaps for the Rams. This past summer, Rochell was let go by Los Angeles during final cuts and was quickly signed to the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad. After just under a month with Seattle, he was let go from the practice squad and signed with the Panthers’ practice squad, where he had been until the Packers scooped him up.