The Green Bay Packers will be without two of their major contributors until at least Week 8 after sending both middle linebacker Christian Kirksey and wide receiver Allen Lazard to injured reserve on Saturday afternoon.
Neither Kirksey (pectoral) nor Lazard (core) practiced for the Packers this week after each suffered an injury during Week 3’s win over the New Orleans Saints. Initial reports had suggested both would most likely miss the Packers’ upcoming game against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, but the Saturday’s move confirms each of them will spend several games away from the action.
Just a reminder those who are placed on IR will need to miss 3 games and not 3 weeks. An important distinction to remember with the bye upcoming. Lazard and Kirksey won’t be eligible to return until Week 8.
— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) October 3, 2020
Kirksey was forced to come out of Sunday’s game in the second quarter with what was deemed to be a shoulder injury and did not return, but a pectoral issue was listed as the cause of him missing practice this week (and subsequently getting placed on IR). His absence leaves the Packers without both their primary defensive signal-caller and leading tackler, as Kirksey has eight more (27) than any other defender this season.
Lazard’s injury, however, didn’t become apparent until he missed Thursday’s first practice of the week, coming off a career-best 146-yard performance against the Saints. ESPN’s Adam Schefter later reported that Lazard had undergone core muscle surgery and was out “indefinitely” — which now officially means at least the next three games.
The Packers now have six players on IR with the additions of Kirksey and Lazard, including two who are now eligible to return to the active roster — cornerback Kabion Ento and fifth-round rookie linebacker Kamal Martin. The others include fellow wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (eligible to return after Week 4’s game) and offensive guard Lane Taylor (done for the season).
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Packers Looking Thin at Inside Linebacker
The Packers looked to have pulled off an affordable overhaul for their inside linebacker spot after wrapping up training camp, touting a healthy and mobile Kirksey as their replacement for former starter Blake Martinez and getting early flashes from Martin that put him in the mix for starting duties as a rookie.
Not so much anymore.
While Martin is expected to return this season and could even return during the bye in Week 5, it does nothing to help the Packers for their impending clash against the Falcons on Monday night. Their personnel group has now been reduced primarily to undrafted rookie Krys Barnes and Ty Summers, who played the first defensive snaps of his career last week against the Saints in relief of Kirksey.
The Packers also have Oren Burks, a 2018 third-round pick, but defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said earlier this week that Burks is “probably spending more time with the outside linebackers” than his regular spot on the inside. He lined up several times on the outside against the Saints after pass rusher Rashan Gary was injured.
Now, Summers didn’t look bad at all in his debut as not only an NFL defender but also a defensive signal-caller. He made some swift and agile plays against the Saints and finished with a team-high nine tackles, one more than Barnes as his counterpart. Still, the Packers could be standing on sturdier ground heading into a matchup against Todd Gurley, who remains one of the better running backs in the league.