Packers Rookie to Miss ‘At Least 6 Weeks’ After Surgery: Report

Kamal Martin Injury

Getty Kamal Martin #49 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrates a sack of Isaac Harker #14 of the Indiana State Sycamores in the second quarter at TCFBank Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Green Bay Packers once again find themselves shorthanded at inside linebacker.

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovksy, Packers fifth-round rookie Kamal Martin had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on Tuesday and will miss at least six weeks, removing a possible starter from the equation with three days left until 53-man roster cuts.

Martin had suffered a right knee injury last October that cut his final season at Minnesota short after eight games, but the 22-year-old came into his first NFL training camp looking healthy and ready to contribute to the Packers defense immediately. He played during the team’s scrimmage at Lambeau Field last Sunday and did not appear to leave with an injury.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur refused to comment on Martin’s knee injury during his pre-practice Zoom call with media and added: “We’ll put out an injury report next Wednesday.”

The Packers are still armed with their new veteran, Christian Kirksey, as the quarterback of their defense in Blake Martinez’s old spot, but losing Martin for a significant period of time puts them in a tough position with Oren Burks, Ty Summers and two undrafted rookies the only others filling out the position behind Kirksey.

Martin’s lengthy injury immediately makes him a candidate for the Packers’ injured reserve list, but new rules implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic require him to spend one day on the initial roster in order for him to be eligible to return from IR. In other words, if the Packers put Martin on IR before the roster cutdown deadline at 3 p.m. Saturday, he will not be able to return for the entire 2020 season.

 

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Burks Returns to Practice, Helping Ailing Group

The Packers got a bit of good news later on Wednesday when Burks, their 2018 third-round pick, returned to practice after missing the final two sessions of training camp. Burks did not participate in the team’s live scrimmage on Sunday, but his presence restores some vitality to the inside linebacker room that remains without two players.

The Packers are also still without second-year linebacker Curtis Bolton, who was placed on the PUP list before the start of training camp practice as he continues to work back from a torn ACL he sustained during the 2019 preseason. Like Martin, Bolton was a standout rookie for the Packers in his first camp and was vying for a starting job before his injury took him out of the mix. He hasn’t stepped onto the field since for the Packers.

It seems likely the Packers will keep Bolton on their PUP list for the 2020 season unless the team has soured on him behind the scenes, but his unclear return timetable leaves some questions for the position heading into Week 1 against Minnesota, even with Burks.


Could Packers Trade for Another ILB Again?

Last September, the Packers were facing similar depth issues at inside linebacker and cut a deal with the New York Giants to acquire B.J. Goodson, who ended up filling out the No. 2 role behind Martinez for the entire 2019 season. Could general manager Brian Gutekunst make the same thing happen again for the Packers in 2020?

Gutekunst didn’t trade for Goodson until a few days after the cutdown deadline had passed, giving him time to survey the league’s other roster castaways for a possible fit. That period will be even more important this year with the pandemic eliminating preseason games and keeping a number of players well under the radar.

It would seem wise for the Packers to add depth to some degree. Kirksey is looking like he could be an energizer for the defense, but separate injuries also restricted him to just nine games over his last two seasons in Cleveland. Another one would leave the Packers on shaky ground given that Burks has only played 179 defensive snaps and Summers, a 2019 seventh-round pick, was exclusively a special teams player as a rookie.

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