According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Clark did not participate in Wednesday’s practice for the Packers after a groin injury knocked him out in the first half of Week 1’s win over Minnesota. The 25-year-old star nose tackle spent the afternoon inside the team’s facility working with the rehab staff, putting his status in doubt for Sunday’s noon CT kickoff at Lambeau Field.
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) September 16, 2020
Clark was officially listed as a non-participant in the Packers’ injury report for Wednesday’s practice along with outside linebacker Randy Ramsey (groin) and Lane Taylor, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter against the Vikings.
Montravius Adams is listed as the backup for Clark on the Packers’ depth chart, but his status also remains in question for Week 2 as he continues to recover from a sprained toe. He was a limited participant in his fourth straight practice Wednesday after being inactive in Week 1, which could make 2019 fifth-round pick Kingsley Keke the choice if Clark can’t play.
The Packers also had six others getting limited work on Wednesday, including rookie tight end Josiah Deguara (shin), safety Raven Greene (quad), wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) and offensive linemen Elgton Jenkins (ankle), Lucas Patrick (shoulder) and Billy Turner (knee). Inside linebacker Oren Burks (groin) was a full participant.
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Clark Represents Major Piece of Packers Defense
The Packers locked down Clark as the driving force of their defensive line just before the start of training camp with a four-year $70 million contract extension, making him the NFL’s highest-paid nose tackle after his career year in 2019. He started all 18 games and earned his first Pro Bowl selection while finishing with 68 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and seven sacks — including one against Russell Wilson in the Packers’ home playoff win against Seattle.
Clark has only become more dangerous as a pass rusher since the integration of outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith last season, taking advantage of their increased presence on the edges to make impact plays at and behind the line of scrimmage. A bigger role for Rashan Gary in 2020 has also been expected to alleviate the pressure on Clark.
The challenge for the Packers has been surrounding Clark with consistent support at the other defensive line spots. They avoided making any significant offseason additions to the position and instead chose to bet on the strides of their returning lineman, including starters Tyler Lancaster and Dean Lowry and Keke.
Jenkins’ Addition to Injury Report Also Concerning
The Packers’ offensive line is in rough shape after one week of the regular season, and it doesn’t appear to be improving much with Jenkins — a 2019 All-Rookie left guard — becoming the latest addition to the team’s injury report.
All four of the Packers’ top offensive guards are mending injuries ahead of their Week 2 matchup at home with veteran right guard Lane Taylor believed to have suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Vikings. Lucas Patrick, who started at left guard in the opener, dropped out in the first half with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Billy Turner is still working back from a knee injury that has kept him mostly sidelined since Aug. 30.
There are pieces of a starting lineup there for the Packers, even with Taylor out of the picture. The Packers were impressed with sixth-round rookie Jon Runyan Jr.’s debut in relief of Taylor late in the fourth quarter and could be eyeing him for a bigger role in the upcoming week. They also have some versatility with Jenkins and Turner both capable of playing either guard or tackle. The question now is which among them will be healthiest come Sunday.