Kevin King didn’t play a snap of the preseason, but the Green Bay Packers cornerback was back at practice Sunday and is officially ready to go against the Chicago Bears.
King, along with 15 others, were removed from the Packers injury report Wednesday afternoon, including starting tight end Jimmy Graham (finger)— who was upgraded to a full participant in practice Tuesday — and running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams (both hamstrings).
Others also removed included fullback Danny Vitale (calf), offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga (rest), Alex Light (wrist) and Cole Madison (ankle), cornerbacks Tramon Williams (knee) and Josh Jackson (Achilles), safety Will Redmond (ankle), defensive linemen Kenny Clark (ankle), Montravius Adams (groin), Tyler Lancaster (ankle) and Fadol Brown (calf), and linebacker Blake Martinez (back).
King’s return should see him start at corner alongside Jaire Alexander and Tramon Williams, but the depth behind him is stronger after absence also afforded extra preparation for the likes of Tony Brown, Josh Jackson, Chandon Sullivan and Ka’dar Hollman.
But not all the news was good, especially in regards to the last name on that list.
Hollman, a sixth-round pick out of Toledo this year, is questionable with a neck injury after being limited during this week’s practices. Meanwhile, fellow rookie Darrius Shepherd has also been ruled out completely as he battles hamstring issues. Linebacker Oren Burks rounds out the injured list with him reportedly expected to miss the first four weeks of the season with an injury pec feared to be a torn muscle.
Shepherd was a standout all preseason and training camp in a contested group of Packers receivers, pushing out the likes of J’Mon Moore and Allen Lazard for a spot on the 53-man roster — though, the latter was since called up.
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King’s Time To Shine
A healthy King is a reason for optimism, even if it comes handcuffed to skepticism due to his injury-filled career. He has missed 17 of 32 career games since the Packers took him with the 33rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, making just one interception and 44 combined tackles in his games played.
The Packers went heavy on defense with their 2017 draft class, taking King and recently-departed safety Josh Jones in the second round and current starting defensive tackle Montravius Adams in the third. With the latter being the exception, the top of that class has yet to make the impact the Packers had hoped. With Jones now gone, King has a chance to change that narrative in 2019 with a defense that got some serious renovations in the offseason.
He will get his first opportunity Thursday night against Bears receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, who will be trying to defend their NFC North champion title in their own home with the rest of their Chicago teammates. The Bears won 24-17 when the two teams met at Soldier Field last December, with Mitchell Trubisky somewhat smoothly completing 20 of 28 passes for two touchdowns and 235 yards.