Packers Place Rookie on IR, Call Up Impressive Receiver

Sternberger Goes on IR

Getty The Green Bay Packers put rookie tight end Jace Sternberger on Injured reserve Tuesday after he suffered an ankle injury in the team's preseason finale last Thursday.

Two days before the start of the regular season, the Green Bay Packers have officially lost another piece to an injury.

The Packers’ transactions list showed the team Tuesday placed rookie tight end Jace Sternberger on the injured reserve list after he suffered an ankle injury during last Thursday’s preseason finale, a 27-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

In place of the third-round draft pick out of Texas A&M, the Packers called up second-year receiver Allen Lazard, who was on the bubble to make the initial 53-man roster before the cuts were made last Saturday. He was signed to Green Bay’s practice squad Sunday after a standout preseason and training camp.

The loss of Sternberger is not ideal in a system that frequents double-tight end sets, but not the biggest blow depth the Packers have experienced in the past several weeks. Jimmy Graham is reportedly doing fine after a finger injury sustained during training camp and will slot into the starting role with veteran Marcedes Lewis to back him up. Meanwhile, Robert Tonyan flashed potential throughout camp and figures to be a reliable third option when needed.

The Packers had already been forced to play without Sternberger after he took a nasty hit during joint practices with the Houston Texans in early August — one that got Lonnie Johnson Jr. sidelined for the rest of practice and boiled bad blood between the two teams. It led to Sternberger missing time while in concussion protocol and with an injury to his jaw.

Sternberger will be eligible to rejoin the team in eight weeks, wiping out at least the first half of his rookie season.

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Another Chance to Shine

A whirlwind of status changes has Lazard where some thought he could end up in the first place: on the Packers’ active roster, preparing for Week 1 against the Chicago Bears on Thursday night at 7:20 p.m. at Soldier Field.

The young receiver had six catches for 114 receiving yards and a touchdown across action in all four of the Packers’ exhibition games, making a quality case for a spot among the team’s receiving corps. Equanimeous St. Brown, who was also placed on IR, dropped out of the race with a high ankle sprain, but the emergence of undrafted rookie Darrius Shepherd and the team’s confidence in Trevor Davis kept Lazard from making the first cut.

His efforts, though, garnered him one of 10 spots on the team’s practice squad the next day and promotion to the primary roster another two days later.

While the Packers are more likely to lean on the talents of starting wideouts Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison in the slot, any one of the other four targets — including also Jake Kumerow — could see action in the right situation Thursday night when the NFL kicks off its 100th season.

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