Packers Sign Young TE to Fill Final Spot on Practice Squad

Packers Sign Dafney PS

Getty Dominique Dafney #23 of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates after blocking a punt against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 27, 2018 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.

The Green Bay Packers have brought in another versatile offensive weapon to round out their 16-player practice squad.

The Packers announced Monday the signing of tight end Dominique Dafney, who had taken a visit to Green Bay during their Week 5 bye and was rumored to be joining the team several days before they made it official. The rookie had spent time with the Indianapolis Colts during training camp and comes with versatility beyond the typical tight end.

Dafney played his final college season at Indiana State, the same school where current Packers starter Robert Tonyan made a name for himself before reaching the NFL. His abilities paired with his size (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) made him a unique weapon for the Sycamores’ offense, catching 15 passes for 196 yards as a wide receiver and running for another 439 yards on the ground as an H-back. He also collected seven total touchdowns.

The Packers had originally hosted Dafney for a workout on Sept. 26 and brought him back in for a visit — likely related to COVID-19 testing — during their bye week after losing rookie tight end Josiah Deguara to a season-ending ACL injury in Week 4.

The Packers still have two spaces available on their 53-man active roster and could potentially fill one or both of them with Kamal Martin or Equanimeous St. Brown, who were each designated for return from injured reserve on Monday. Both practiced on Monday, but neither will take up a roster space until they are officially activated in the next 21 days.

Another spot will also free up when Deguara is eventually placed on injured reserve, leaving the Packers with a handful of decisions to make before Week 6’s road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Dafney’s Best Shot Could be Game-Day Elevations

Even with Deguara’s injury, the Packers are still sitting pretty at the tight end position with Tonyan and Jace Sternberger, a 2019 third-round pick, paired with veteran Marcedes Lewis as the primary rotation. The Packers also have John Lovett signed to the active roster and have yet to begin fully exploring his usefulness to the offense, which gives someone like Dafney long odds to make the 53-man squad.

That said, there could be a window of opportunity for him to prove himself if the Packers decide to promote him on game day at some point this season. They have brought up at least one practice-squad player in each of their first four games and could test out Dafney’s fit for the active roster through the same method. It worked for Lovett, who was signed to a 53-man roster contract after elevations in Weeks 1 and 2.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur does have a penchant for getting versatile players like Dafney involved in his offense. Tyler Ervin went from being primarily a return specialist in 2019 to getting involved regularly in both the rushing and passing game. Running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have each finished a game this year with the most receptions for the Packers.

Dafney might not have great odds, but there are worse places to be than on the practice squad in LaFleur’s system with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

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