Packers Elevate Backup OL After Placing Another Starter on IR

Josh Myers IR Move

Getty Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers watches play from the sideline in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

The Green Bay Packers are calling up offensive guard Ben Braden to their game-day roster for the second time in three weeks, but not before committing to playing without one of their rookie starters for the next several weeks.

On Saturday, October 23, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst announced that second-round rookie center Josh Myers had been placed on injured reserve and that Braden had been elevated to their active roster as a COVID-19 replacement for Week 7’s home game against the Washington Football Team.

The Packers had already ruled Myers out against Washington with the knee injury that sidelined him on their first drive in Week 6 against the Chicago Bears, but moving him to injured reserve almost certainly means he will miss their next four games. While Myers will be eligible for activation one day before the Packers host the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10 on November 13, the short turnaround makes it unlikely he will return to the fold any sooner than Week 11’s trip to Minnesota.

In the meantime, Braden could have a chance to earn a more permanent place on the Packers’ active roster, especially if he makes the most of his elevation opportunity on Sunday against Washington. The Packers have been rolling with Jon Runyan Jr. and Royce Newman as their starting guards, but Lucas Patrick (center) and Elgton Jenkins (left tackle) have other responsibilities at the moment, leaving Braden as the primary backup for both guard spots.

The Packers currently have one space available on their 53-man roster following Myers’ placement on injured reserve.

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Can Braden Become More Than Special Teams Asset?

Braden might be getting another opportunity to shine for the Packers this weekend, but it is unlikely any of his playing time against Washington will come on offense. While the 27-year-old guard has played a total of 46 career snaps for the Packers since joining them partway into the 2020 season, only five of his snaps were played on offense. He was also exclusively limited to a special teams role during his first elevation opportunity in Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals; though, he played a career-high 14 snaps.

Part of the reason why Braden likely won’t log any offensive snaps is the consistency of the Packers’ current interior starters. Neither Newman nor Runyan has missed a single snap since entering the starting lineup, and it would be strange for them to suddenly insert an unproven piece into the rotation without injuries slowing one of them.

The Packers, however, spoke highly of Braden’s development coming into the season and could view him as more of a hybrid lineman than simply a guard. He took first-team reps as the team’s starting left tackle during OTAs while David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins were both unavailable. He also competed at both tackle and guard throughout training camp, making the Packers’ decision to leave him off of their initial 53-man roster in favor of backup center Jake Hanson a bit surprising.

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