It does not appear that safety Innis Gaines will be returning to the Green Bay Packers, as they have used his opening on the practice squad to sign rookie inside linebacker Austin Ajiake. Gaines was signed off of the practice squad last week after exhausting his three elevations from the practice squad previously this season. On Monday, the Packers picked up cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly off of waivers with the corresponding roster move being the release of Gaines off of the 53-man roster.
Like running back Patrick Taylor and cornerback Kiondre Thomas, Gaines now appears to have graduated from the Packers’ practice squad to be signed elsewhere in the league, as the team seems to be protecting roster spots for younger players. Last week, the healthy inactives for Green Bay were receiver Samori Toure, tackle Caleb Jones and outside linebacker Brenton Cox Jr., all players who entered the league within the last two years.
Austin Ajiake is a LB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.34 RAS out of a possible 10.00 (Splits projected, all other metrics from @EricGalko). This ranked 161 out of 2427 LB from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/lFmc7keiiq #RAS pic.twitter.com/82gwgUZEVX— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 9, 2023
Ajiake, a product of UNLV, originally agreed to terms with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent but never ended up finalizing a deal with the team. From there, he was picked up by the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL, a league he never played in, before signing with the Denver Broncos in August.
Following his release from the Broncos at cutdowns, Ajiake signed a practice squad deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, where he had an impressive local pro day during the pre-draft process. According to reports, he recorded a 4.6-second 40-yard dash and a 38.5” vertical jump. Last week, Ajiake was released from the Raiders’ practice squad.
According to Pro Football Focus’ charting, Ajiake played 671 special teams snaps for UNLV last season, a phase where he will likely see his first snaps — if he ever gets activated for the Packers’ gameday roster. Ajiake joins fellow in-season signing Christian Young as the team’s only inside linebackers on the practice squad. With that being said, outside linebacker Arron Mosby is a hybrid linebacker who is listed at outside linebacker and contributed mostly on special teams during the preseason.