Another young member of the Green Bay Packers’ roster will be watching the rest of the 2020 season from the sidelines.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers have lost tight end/fullback John Lovett for the remainder of the year after he suffered an ACL tear this week. Lovett had seen action in all eight games but never played more than 11 offensive snaps in any one game, taking all three of his 2020 carries in garbage time of Week 9’s win in San Francisco.
Packers’ FB John Lovett out for year with ACL tear, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 13, 2020
“What an unfortunate circumstance, and just something you don’t really see very often, obviously in a practice,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters Friday. “It’s like the stars were aligned, man, in order for that to happen, and it’s really unfortunate because you’re talking about a guy who will do anything for the football team. … (I) feel just sick about it.”
Lovett has held interesting gadget potential as a former Ivy League quarterback who has turned to just about every other skill position at the NFL level, but a proper role was never found for him in the Packers offense. While his year may be done, though, Lovett’s return would seem likely given he will be an exclusive rights free agent for the 2021 offseason.
“His impact was really coming along I think in both phases — in special teams and on offense,” LaFleur said. “I know we didn’t use him as much on the offensive side of the ball, but you’re talking about a four-quarter starter on special teams, and those types of players are really tough to replace.”
No official moves have been announced in regards to Lovett’s injury, but another spot on the Packers’ 53-man roster is expected to become available when Lovett eventually goes on injured reserve. While there are currently two spots open, four players are due back soon from various reserve lists — including two from the COVID-19 list.
Wide receiver Allen Lazard and inside linebacker Christian Kirksey are also finishing up their third week back at practice from IR and will both likely be activated before Week 10’s home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
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Could Dominique Dafney Inherit Bigger Role?
The Packers won’t have difficulty replacing Lovett’s minimal production with a steady rushing stable and some versatile tight end personnel, but his deduction from the active roster could open the door for others — particularly on the practice squad — to inherit opportunities for the offense.
One of the best practice-squad candidates is Dominique Dafney, a 6-foot-2, 243-pound rookie tight end who checks some of the same boxes as Lovett in terms of size and skill. Dafney was deployed mostly as an H-back during his final collegiate season at Indiana State, but he also possesses hands that can both hold a block and catch passes. Trying him out as a game-day elevation could be worth a shot.
The Packers could also experiment with some of their other offensive weapons. They still have a trio of wide receivers in Reggie Begelton, Seth Roberts and Juwann Winfree biding their time on the practice squad, while tight end Dax Raymond (signed Nov. 3) and running back Mike Weber (signed Nov. 11) are each available to address specific depth needs, should any arise over the next few months.