The Green Bay Packers have received some bad news on Christian Kirksey after the starting middle linebacker was sidelined in Week 3 with a shoulder injury.
Kirksey exited partway into the second quarter of the Packers’ 37-30 win over the New Orleans Saints and was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game with a shoulder injury. He had dropped to a knee following an 8-yard run from Latavius Murray and needed trainers to attend to him before coming off the field, but it was not clear how he sustained the injury.
Now, it is expected that Kirksey’s injury could “keep him out of a few games” for the Packers, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. While it is not believed he will miss the rest of the season or require surgery to repair his injury, Demosky reported the “best case” for Kirksey is that he will not play against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football in Week 4.
Initial indications are that Christian Kirksey’s shoulder injury could keep him out of a few games, a source told ESPN. It’s not season-ending and surgery doesn’t appear necessary, but he’s going to miss some time. Best case is he's out this week for… https://t.co/XMoSm905zG
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) September 28, 2020
Kirksey had been running strong as the Packers’ new defensive signal-caller and continues to lead the team with 27 total tackles despite logging just three against the Saints, but injuries have also been a problem for him in recent seasons. After playing every game in his first four years for the Cleveland Browns, Kirksey played just nine total over his final two seasons with 14 games missed during the 2019 season.
The Packers have not yet confirmed Kirksey’s status for the upcoming week, but an update can be expected Thursday when the first injury report of the week is released. Normally, that report would be released on Wednesday, but the Packers playing on Monday pushes back their weekly schedule by one day with practice running through Saturday.
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Can Ty Summers Hold it Down in the Middle?
Without Kirksey, the Packers called upon second-year Ty Summers to not only play the first defensive snaps of his career but also to take on signal-calling duties against a Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the best running backs in the league.
All things considered, it went pretty well for the young buck.
Summers tallied nine tackles and played 44 defensive snaps for the Packers in relief of Kirksey, delivering a performance mixed with good and bad moments. While he missed a few tackles and looked a little pedestrian in pass coverage at times, he also displayed consistent speed that allowed him to quickly close space and make a number of plays.
— Ross Uglem (@RossUglem) September 28, 2020
“I love having the responsibility of being the leader out there, having to communicate calls and get people lined up,” Summers told reporters Tuesday in a Zoom conference call. “I didn’t really feel nervous. I didn’t really think about the fact that I was lined up against Drew Brees and guys like Alvin Kamara and all that until probably the second or third series I was in. I was like, ‘Man, this is kind of cool.'”
At the same time, Summers isn’t reveling in his defensive debut for the Packers. He described his first performance as “not great” despite being thrown into the fire and seems determined to raise the bar if he does, in fact, get his first career start in Week 4. Being consistent in the NFL is much easier said than done, though.
Packers Could Also Return Kamal Martin
The Packers could also potentially get a boost for their inside linebacker group this week with fifth-round rookie Kamal Martin now eligible to return from injured reserve. He injured his knee at the end of training camp and was placed on IR before the Packers’ season opener, but new rules allow players on the list to return to practice after just three weeks.
Martin was in the mix for a starting role behind Kirksey prior to his injury and would expectedly slide into the rotation once returned and fully recovered, but there are no guarantees at all that him returning from IR in Week 4 would mean he was available against Atlanta on Monday. If anything, the Packers might be more inclined to rest him with their bye week coming in Week 5.
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