Packers Defense Gets Good News on Darnell Savage Jr. Injury

Darnell Savage Jr. Week 3 Update

Getty Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage Jr. has been a stable new addition as a rookie starter this season.

Seeing Darnell Savage Jr. emerge from Green Bay Packers locker room Sunday with a walking boot is enough to make even the most sensible fans twinge with concern, but those worries can now be put to rest.

Tests revealed Savage, a first-round 2019 NFL draft pick out of Maryland, sustained a bone contusion during Sunday’s 21-16 home victory over the Minnesota Vikings, according to an ESPN report citing his agent, Seth Katz. While his practice load will be light all week, the standout rookie is preparing to play at noon C.T. Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

That’s undeniably good news for a Packers secondary lost some of its depth against the Vikings when safety Raven Greene went down with an ankle injury that landed him on the injured reserve list Monday afternoon.

Savage has started strong alongside fellow Packers newcomer and safety Adrian Amos, coming up with nine tackles, all solo, two pass deflections and a forced fumble through two straight weeks of winning. Both Savage and cornerback Jaire Alexander have flashed excellent speed and awareness, looking like two of the Packers’ biggest defensive playmakers.

Through two games against NFC North rivals, the Packers defense has allowed the league’s second-fewest total points (19) and points per game (9.5) behind the New England Patriots, while allowing the 11th-fewest passing yards (431) entering Week 3 — and Savage’s impact in bringing those figures to life is easy to see.

Savage Arrived in Green Bay Ready to Roll

Darnell Savage Maryland Week 3

Darnell Savage Jr. brings down Iowa tight end Noah Fant during his time as a safety for Maryland.

Determined to shore up deficiencies from a disappointing 2018, the Packers used both of their first-round draft picks this offseason on adding defensive talent to their arsenal, scooping up a pair of Big Ten players in Michigan edge rusher Rashan Gary (No. 12 overall) and Terrapins safety Savage (No. 21).

Savage, though, was the only among this year’s eight-man Packers draft class to earn himself an outright starting role to begin his rookie campaign and has only reaffirmed his claim over that position against the Chicago Bears and Vikings.

Last Sunday alone, He tipped one of Kirk Cousin’s passes into the hands of new Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith for an interception and nearly added a pick in the end zone himself later on in the game. He also doubled his tackles from three to six between the first two weeks, despite missing one on Dalvin Cook’s deadly 75-yard touchdown run that got the Vikes on the board after 21 unanswered Packers points.

By the measure of Pro Football Focus, Savage was the eighth-highest-rated rookie through the season’s first two weeks with the 10th-highest coverage grade among NFL safeties.

Gary Remains a Work in Progress

Mike Pettine said back during Packers training camp he knew transitioning Gary into a new role — from defensive end to outside linebacker — would be a “work in progress,” but the former Wolverine has hardly been inefficient in his first two weeks in the league.

According to SBNation’s Peter Bukowski, Gary has applied more pressure to the quarterbacks than some of the more established names around the league such as Von Miller and Bradley Chubb in far fewer snaps. Gary has three total QB pressures in just 15 defensive snaps, while Miller and Chub each have two with more than 40 snaps taken apiece.

With Za’Darius Smith limited in Wednesday’s practice because of an ankle issue that sent him to the sideline Sunday against the Vikings, Gary could continue to see his snaps climb during Week 3’s home matchup against a Broncos team that has scored the fifth-fewest points after an 0-2 start.

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