Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes returned to practice on Tuesday, marking the first time that he’s been back on the field since his 2022 season-ending injuries. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Ryan Wood, Stokes reportedly stated that the injuries that ended his campaign last season were a Lisfranc to his foot and a torn meniscus in his knee, both of which demanded surgery.
Stokes began camp on the physically unable to perform list for the Packers, where he remained through cutdowns. If a player is on the PUP at the start of the regular season, he officially has to miss at least the first four weeks of the season before he’s allowed to practice with the team. Whenever a player returns to the practice field, the league allows for a 21-day window for that player to practice without having to be activated to the 53-man roster, but the player cannot play in a game until he’s activated.
That’s where the Packers find themselves with Stokes. Anytime between later on Tuesday to three weeks from now, Stokes will jump up to the active roster and be eligible to play in games for Green Bay.
Whenever Stokes does return to the active roster, the Packers will have some decisions to make. Not only will the team need to make a corresponding roster move to fit Stokes in the 53-man count, but one of Rasul Douglas or Keisean Nixon will probably need to have a reduced role on the defensive side of the ball. Douglas has been playing outside cornerback with Stokes out of the lineup, while Nixon has been lining up in the slot. At the moment, it’s uncertain if Stokes returning to the starting lineup would push Douglas to the slot or if Douglas would simply get displaced entirely.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry, in his press conference on Monday, called this issue a “champagne problem,” stating that these are good problems to have at the NFL level.