The return of Allen Lazard will have to wait just a bit longer.
The Green Bay Packers made multiple roster moves Saturday afternoon ahead of Week 10’s home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but none of them involved the activation of their third-year wide receiver.
The Packers did, however, reactivate starting middle linebacker Christian Kirksey to their 53-man roster and added four players to their game-day roster as promotions from the practice squad. Rookie safety Henry Black and wide receiver Juwann Winfree are both considered COVID-19 replacements, while cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell and Stanford Samuels III will be game-day elevations.
The last time Lazard was on the field, he caught six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown and helped guide the Packers to a 37-30 victory over the Saints, but he came away from the game with a core-muscle injury that forced him to undergo surgery in October. Kirksey also suffered a shoulder injury during the win and was forced to drop out midway.
Kirksey and Lazard both have been practicing again since Oct. 28 and slowly ramping up to full speed, but the Packers have been cautious about working back injured players this season. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Lazard — who missed Friday’s practice — was “still dealing with soreness” this week and could require a bit more time.
#Packers WR Allen Lazard, who did not practice today as he tries to come back from core muscle surgery, is still dealing with soreness, I’m told. No setback. But sounds like the team will be cautious and this may not be week he returns. If not, expect him back next week.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 13, 2020
Players coming off injured reserve are given a 21-day window to be reactivated from when they rejoin their team at practice, but those who cannot return during that time frame are required to sit out the remainder of the season. That means the Packers must activate Lazard before the middle of next week or get comfortable without him in the lineup.
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Kirksey Gives ILBs Needed Boost
Lazard’s return from injured reserve has probably been the most anticipated for Packers fans in recent weeks, but don’t let that understate the value of Kirksey coming back.
Kirksey was always intended to be the primary piece in the middle of the Packers defense this season, evidenced by the two-year, $13 million free-agent contract he signed with the team during the past offseason. The 28-year-old starting linebacker had been mostly delivering, too, with a team-high 27 tackles through his first two and a half games, but his injury forced the Packers to resort to players with little to no NFL playing experience.
Fortunately, Kirksey’s return is coming at just the right time for the Packers with Krys Barnes — the undrafted rookie who took over signal-calling duties in his absence — stuck on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He will presumably slide back into his starting role for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars; though, the Packers may seek to ease him back in his first game and lean more heavily on their rotational support.
Ty Summers, a 2019 seventh-round pick, has split playcalling duties with Barnes during the time Kirksey has spent out and could be called upon again if the Packers intend to keep their veteran on a snap count. They may, however, feel more confident with fifth-round rookie Kamal Martin, who was in the mix to start alongside Kirksey in Week 1 before getting injured.