Deguara, a 2020 third-round pick, was downgraded to a non-participant in Thursday’s practice after being limited in Wednesday’s session and also picked up a new injury in the team’s daily injury report. The Packers had initially added Deguara to the list with a shin injury and now list him as having both ankle and shin issues coming into Week 2’s matchup.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) September 17, 2020
Deguara impressed during his limited opportunities in Sunday’s 43-34 win over the Minnesota Vikings, catching one pass for 12 yards in the second quarter on the Packers’ go-ahead drive. He also laid down a few impressive blocks, including one that saw him take out two Vikings defenders at once and clear the way for Allen Lazard on a 19-yard run.
Deguara took the third-most snaps among the Packers’ four tight ends — doubling the time Jace Sternberger spent on the field — and was the only among them to make a reception.
The Packers also had two other players miss Thursday’s practice due to injuries with star nose tackle Kenny Clark missing his second straight with a groin injury that knocked him out in the first half of Week 1’s win over Minnesota. Third-year wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who did not play Sunday, was also held out with a knee injury that limited him on Wednesday.
On a positive note, the Packers also upgraded offensive linemen Elgton Jenkins (ankle), Lucas Patrick (shoulder) and Billy Turner (knee) to full participants on Thursday. All three of them could potentially be starters for the Packers in Week 2 with veteran Lane Taylor done for the season with a knee injury.
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Will Sternberger Earn More Opportunities?
If the Packers’ snap counts from Sunday say anything, it’s that Sternberger still has some work to do before they are willing to make him a featured part of the offense.
Sternberger played just 12 offensive snaps against the Vikings, the fewest among the Packers’ four tight ends behind Deguara (24), veteran Marcedes Lewis (32) and Robert Tonyan (48). While Sternberger did make a couple of nice blocks, he was only targetted once in the passing game on a hopeless first-quarter throw from Aaron Rodgers while under pressure.
Offseason expectations were high for Sternberger after an injury-influenced rookie season. He suffered an ankle injury in the preseason and was only cleared to play again in the postseason, but a touchdown reception against the San Francisco 49ers ended his year on the right note. There was even talk that Sternberger could become the starting tight end once Jimmy Graham was cut from the roster.
Unfortunately, Sternberger hit a snag at the beginning of training camp when he landed on the COVID-19 reserve list, taking more than a week to clear protocols and return to the fold. The time away only further hindered his development during an already-strained year where teams weren’t given OTAs or preseason games to assess their players.
Sternberger could get an opportunity to show off his progress in Week 2 if Deguara’s injury keeps him off the field, but he will need to consistently string together strong performances if he wants to ascend to the top spot on the depth chart in 2020 — and that’s assuming he can beat out Tonyan, the current frontrunner.