Packers Sign Rookie Linebacker, Promote 2 Others vs. Vikings

Packers Elevate Lovett

Getty John Lovett #7 of the Baylor Bears tries to hold off Eli Howard #53 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half on October 12, 2019 in Waco, Texas.

The Green Bay Packers have added three players from their practice squad to their game-day roster ahead of Sunday’s season opener at the Minnesota Vikings, taking advantage of a new NFL rule that allows teams to carry 55 players into games.

The Packers elevated both fullback/tight end John Lovett and outside linebacker Tipa Galeai from their reserves as temporary members of their active roster. Under the new call-up rule, Lovett and Galeai are eligible to play against the Vikings but will revert back to the practice squad after the game.

Meanwhile, the Packers signed — not elevated — inside linebacker Krys Barnes to fill the final open spot on their 53-man roster, providing some depth for a position that has been lacking since fifth-round rookie Kamal Martin was placed on injured reserve. He continues the Packers’ streak of fielding an undrafted rookie on their opening-day roster, dating back to 2015.

Barnes grew into a defensive force over his final three seasons at UCLA, racking up a career-best 74 tackles and a team-high 10 for a loss as a frequent disrupter at the line of scrimmage. He also displayed solid skills in pass coverage with a team-leading seven pass breakups and an interception, only the second of his collegiate career.

The Packers now have four inside linebackers on their active roster heading into Week 1 with starter Christian Kirksey set to make his debut as the team’s new defensive signal-caller. He was signed from the Browns as a replacement for Blake Martinez this offseason and looked strong, healthy and dynamic in training camp after injuries limited him to just nine games over his final two years in Cleveland.

Oren Burks is also expected to see some increased action after a pectoral injury hinder him last year. While he was limited at practice earlier in the week, the 2018 third-round pick was given no injury designation for Sunday’s opener. Barnes will presumably fit in behind both Burks and second-year Ty Summers.

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Packers Have Filled 53, Not Practice Squad

Like most NFL teams, the Packers have been shaking up both their active roster and practice squad throughout the first week of the 2020 regular season.

The moves began Monday when the Packers placed both Martin and backup cornerback Kabion Ento on IR and consequently cleared two spaces on their 53-man roster. One of those openings immediately went to former Jacksonville cornerback Parry Nickerson, who signed with the Packers the same day, but the last spot went unaddressed until Barnes’ promotion.

The Packers also left two spots unfilled on their initial practice squad coming out of cutdown weekend, needing additional time to work around COVID-19 restrictions and bring in outside players for evaluations. The signings of wide receiver Robert Foster and linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris brought the squad to capacity; though, the Packers also swapped out Alex Light and Damarea Crockett for Dexter Williams and newcomer Daylon Mack on Thursday.

The brief promotions for Lovett and Galeai will leave the practice squad a little light over the weekend, but there will still be one spot available once they revert back to start Week 2 now that Barnes is part of the primary roster. In other words, the Packers still have at least another roster move coming in the next few days.

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