The Green Bay Packers have been dealing with a ton of injuries after their Week 9 loss to the Detroit Lions. Now, it appears that yet another starter on defense will be missing the rest of the 2022 season due to injury.
Along with losing their fifth straight game to fall to 3-6, the Packers suffered multiple significant injuries while playing at Ford Field. Star pass rusher Rashan Gary suffered a torn ACL, ending his season, while promising rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs has a high-ankle sprain that’s expected to keep him sidelined for four-to-six weeks.
Packers fans got even more bad news on the injury front during head coach Matt LaFleur’s press conference on Friday, November 11. During the presser, LaFleur revealed that second-year cornerback Eric Stokes will likely miss the rest of the 2022 season with an injury he suffered in the Week 9 loss.
Despite all of the other bad news on the injury front, running back Aaron Jones is at least expected to play in Week 11 in a primetime matchup against the Dallas Cowboys and former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.
Eric Stokes’ Football Career
He may not have been playing his best football in 2022, but losing Stokes for the rest of the season is still a huge blow to Green Bay’s defense.
Stokes was originally recruited as a safety coming out of high school in Covington, Georgia. A 3-star recruit, Stokes drew interest from programs including Florida and Ole Miss, but he decided to stay in his home state to play for Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs.
Although he redshirted his first year, Stokes had a significant impact for the Georgia program. He was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2019 and then a first-team pick in 2020 after recording four interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
The young Bulldogs cornerback turned heads during the pre-draft process after the 2020 season, posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.25 seconds during his pro day. With his speed and size at 6’0″ and 194 pounds, Stokes was taken by the Packers with the 29th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Stokes showed flashes during his rookie season in Green Bay, recording 14 pass breakups and an interception in 16 games. He didn’t have nearly the same impact in 2022, however, recording zero pass breakups or interceptions in nine games.
Fans were hoping that Stokes could turn it around in the second half of the season, but now he’ll likely be rehabbing and getting ready for 2023.
Who Will Replace Eric Stokes?
While losing Stokes is a big blow, the good news is that the Packers still have a pair of talented cornerbacks in Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas.
Both corners have seen significant playing time this year, with Douglas primarily playing in the slot when Stokes has been healthy. However, with Stokes now likely out for the year, Douglas will presumably be asked to kick back outside, opening the door for Keisean Nixon.
Nixon was an undrafted free agent back in 2019 and was picked up by the Raiders. Originally expected to be just a special teams contributor for the Packers and former Raiders interim head coach Rich Bissacia, Nixon has been thrown onto the defense a handful of times this season.
With Stokes now out for the season, expect Nixon to see a significant uptick in the defensive snaps he plays. The Packers could also turn to second-year corner Shemar Jean-Charles, who was a fifth-round pick in 2021 out of Appalachian State.
Neither player is as fast or big as Stokes, but it’ll be an opportunity for one or both of them to prove they can be a starting-caliber cornerback at the NFL level.