The Packers (13-3) were originally saving the final spot on their 53-man roster for hybrid safety Raven Greene, who returned to practice last week after spending the majority of the season on the injured reserve list with an ankle injury. Greene played well in the first two games of the season but was injured midway through the Packers’ Week 2 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said last week Greene could “potentially” return for their opening playoff game against the Seahawks (11-5) based on evaluations from the team’s medical staff, but the final decision to leave him off the list indicates his ankle is not quite ready for game action — or that the Packers don’t need him for the matchup.
Greene would have been a useful addition to the Packers secondary after serving as their dime linebacker for the first two games this year. While probably not ready to slide back into his primary role, he would have at least offered some rotational relief to help Ibraheim Campbell, who has taken up the hybrid role since coming off the PUP list at the beginning of November.
Instead, the responsibility will remain with Campbell against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks as the Packers put their season on the line at their home field. Should they prevail and move on to the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, Greene would have a chance to return again.
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Seahawks Could Be Rashan Gary’s Time to Shine
The Packers will need speed on the field for most of the evening to avoid a matchup problem with the fleet-footed Wilson, which could mean seeing more of the Packers’ top pick in last year’s draft.
Rashan Gary has operated out of a rotational role for the majority of the season as the Packers transition him from a traditional edge rusher — as he was at Michigan — into a true outside linebacker in the same vein as Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. While not quite as fast as some had hoped, Gary has shown flashes of his NFL potential in a few games this season. He tallied a sack and three solo tackles in two games this season, including on Mitchell Trubisky during Week 15’s win over the Chicago Bears.
The Packers’ other first-round rookie — safety Darnell Savage Jr. — is another speed component that could seriously help out on the defensive side of the ball. Savage has been a starter all season long except for a few games where he was sidelined with an injury. He played in 83.2 percent of defensive snaps this season — compared with Gary in just 23.5 percent — while racking up 55 tackles, five passes defended, two forced fumbles and two interceptions during the regular season.