Ahead of Monday’s kickoff, the Packers announced they had elevated fourth-year wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown to their game-day roster against the Lions, giving him his first opportunity on the active roster of the 2021 season. It will also be the first NFL game in which St. Brown and his brother — Lions rookie wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown — will be facing off against each other.
St. Brown failed to make the Packers’ initial 53-man roster coming into his fourth season with the team, but they did retain the 2018 sixth-round pick for their practice squad. He caught 30 passes for 482 yards and touchdown in his first three seasons, gaining the majority of that production (21 receptions, 328 yards) during his rookie year.
Meanwhile, the younger St. Brown had a fine-but-quiet first week for the Lions with two receptions for 23 yards on four targets; although, he was one of eight total Lions to haul in at least two passes from quarterback Jared Goff in Week 1. If the Lions put less of an emphasis on passing to their running backs against the Packers, it could lead to a more featured role for St. Brown alongside top receiving target T.J. Hockenson.
The Packers and Lions are slated to kick off at Lambeau Field at 8:15 p.m. ET with the game scheduled to air on ESPN (or ESPN2 for those interested in Peyton Manning and Eli Manning’s MegaCast).
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Will St. Brown Get Chance to Shine for Packers?
Aaron Rodgers completed just 15 passes for 133 yards and no touchdowns in the first game of the season, so it is safe to assume the Packers will be shaking things up to prevent the same offensive ineptitude from happening in Week 2 against the Lions. Don’t be surprised, though, if their adjusted plan doesn’t involve much St. Brown.
While St. Brown is the first and only player to be elevated from the Packers’ practice squad through two weeks, it is unclear what their intentions might be for him. They could use him in their receiving rotation and try to get him some passing looks, but that would mean taking reps away from some of their other six wideouts, likely the backup group of Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers and Malik Taylor.
The potential of St. Brown being used on special teams is also pretty low given how little he has participated in the third phase for the Packers during his career. He played on 41 special teams snaps (10%) in 2020 despite being active for 12 regular-season games last year and finished with just two assisted tackles.
Generally speaking, the Packers haven’t gotten much use out of calling up receivers in the past. They elevated Juwann Winfree for two games during the 2020 season, but he played just eight total offensive snaps and wasn’t targetted with a pass. They also got similar usage out of Reggie Begelton when they signed him to the active roster for a game last year, playing him on just two offensive snaps.
Maybe St. Brown can defy the odds and make an impact for the Packers in Week 2, but it would be wise to set low expectations in terms of his role for the offense.