The Green Bay Packers are doing a little roster management ahead of their second divisional game of the year.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst officially announced on October 13 the signing of veteran cornerback Quinton Dunbar to their practice squad along with the promotion of fourth-year wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown to the active roster.
St. Brown had exhausted his final practice-squad elevation in Week 5’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals after getting called up three times over the past four games, including once as a COVID replacement. Now, the 2018 sixth-round pick is a full-fledged member of the active roster once again and will look to make an impact as the Packers await for Marquez Valdes-Scantling to return from injured reserve.
St. Brown played just 29 offensive snaps in his three games as an elevation player and only drew two targets in the passing game, catching one of them for no gain. While promotion to the active roster grants him an opportunity to do more, he will have to compete for reps against the likes of Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers.
As for Dunbar, the Packers might consider using one of his game-day elevations against the Chicago Bears this weekend if they are uncomfortable with their cornerback depth; although, it depends on how quickly he manages to get up to speed with their defense.
The Packers (4-1) will look to win their second NFC North game of the season when they take on the Bears (3-2) at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 17.
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Dunbar Has History With Packers DC Joe Barry
How quickly Dunbar learns the defense could be extremely important to the Packers over the next several weeks. As things stand now, All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander is out until October 30 at the earliest — which isn’t until after their Thursday Night Football matchup with the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8 — while Kevin King remains sidelined with the shoulder injury he sustained last week in Cincinnati.
The good news? Dunbar has a little experience with Joe Barry’s defenses.
Barry was Washington’s defensive coordinator during Dunbar’s first two seasons in the league, overseeing his transition from college wide receiver into an NFL cornerback. While Dunbar didn’t break out until several seasons after Barry was gone, the Packers could lean on their experience together to help along the veteran’s learning process. Barry might even feel confident enough in what he knows about Dunbar as a player to throw him in right away in a limited, rotational role for their defense.
It is not like Dunbar has much competition to fend off. First-round rookie Eric Stokes and slot corner Chandon Sullivan are pretty solidified in their roles, but Isaac Yiadom and Shemar Jean-Charles remain unproven for the defense. The Packers also have Kabion Ento on their practice squad to contend for an elevation opportunity with Dunbar; though, he has never played a regular-season snap in the NFL.
Will St. Brown Finally Make a Lasting Impression?
St. Brown flashed his capabilities as an NFL wide receiver during his 2018 rookie season, catching 21 passes for 328 yards in a limited role that seemed to suggest he was destined for greater things with the Packers. Since then, however, he has lost an entire season to injury (in 2019) and made just eight receptions across 15 games, failing to even make their initial 53-man roster heading into the 2021 season.
Will things be different this time around? It is possible, especially for the remainder of the time it takes Valdes-Scantling to heal from his hamstring injury. The Packers have gotten excellent production out of Davante Adams and found a reliable third-down weapon in Cobb, but nobody has truly seized the No. 2 receiver role through five games. Lazard has done more with his blocking and special teams play than in the receiving game, while Amari Rodgers and Malik Taylor have rarely been involved at all as pass-catchers.
That doesn’t mean St. Brown will fare any better in terms of production, but it could be that the veteran receiver offers them a different look, even if only used to take some of the attention off of their more reliable targets. It will be interesting to see how the Packers make use of him against the Bears.