The Green Bay Packers hosted a rookie tight end for a visit Tuesday afternoon just one day after reports emerged that 2020 third-round pick Josiah Deguara would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, per Wednesday’s official NFL tryouts/visits list.
The visitor, Dominique Dafney, is a 6-foot-3, 235-pound tight end who spent some time with the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year as an undrafted free agent. He also played his final collegiate season at Indiana State — the same Alma Mater as current Packers tight end Robert Tonyan — and racked up 635 all-purpose yards as well as a team-high seven touchdowns.
The Packers have two spaces available on their active roster with a third expected to become available once Deguara is placed on injured reserve. They also have two spots open on their practice squad after releasing wide receiver Caleb Scott on Tuesday.
Today’s tryout/visit list includes ex-Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage visiting the Chargers. pic.twitter.com/aQ2u6ao7po
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 7, 2020
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Dafney Played WR/FB at Indiana State
Dafney might be classified as a tight end now, but his background fits the type of player that Packers head coach Matt LaFleur likes in his offensive system. He was a second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection as a wide receiver and fullback for the Sycamores with more rushing yards (439) than receiving yards (196) in 2019.
Another thing about Dafney: He went out with a bang. During his final collegiate performance, he broke loss for 244 rushing yards and five touchdowns against Missouri State that went down as the fourth-best individual rushing performance in program history at Indiana State.
He also spent two prior seasons in the Big Ten at Iowa, having transferred up after one season at the JUCO level. Most of that time was spent as a special teams contributor.
Other TE Options for Packers?
The Packers don’t need to add talent at the tight end position, especially if Marcedes Lewis is capable of returning out of the bye in Week 6 against Tampa Bay. Even if his knee injury keeps the veteran sidelined for a bit, though, Tonyan and Jace Sternberger should be plenty to keep the offense moving at its current pace.
Sternberger hasn’t shown up much in the first four games with Tonyan’s continuing to prove the better choice as a pass-catcher tight end. The latter has caught a touchdown pass in three straight games with his monstrous Monday night (six catches, 98 yards, three touchdowns) helping set a new standard for him in the offense.
At the same time, Sternberger is still playing catchup after missing his first regular season with an injury and starting this year’s training camp on the COVID-19 reserve list. He may look a little green and drop a few passes early in the year, but he’ll continue to get opportunities and could be in a more comfortable place toward the end of the season.
The Packers might also find some use for Nakia Griffin-Stewart, who was recently signed to the practice squad, if Lewis can’t play in Week 6. It would be tough to imagine him getting a permanent spot on the active, but the Packers have made use of game-day elevations rules for every game this season and could take that route in seeing what he can offer the offense.