Josiah Deguara’s first game back for the Green Bay Packers in more than 11 months has taken an unfortunate turn.
The Packers’ second-year tight end has been ruled out for the remainder of their season opener against the New Orleans Saints with a concussion after sustaining a scary injury early in the second half that left him down on the field for several minutes.
Deguara was hurt on the Packers’ first drive of the third quarter after lining up as a fullback and laying down a low block in the tight end box that appeared to draw him contact to his head/neck area. The 24-year-old tight end remained down on the field for some time as trainers attended to him and players took a knee, but he was able to walk off under his own power and into the blue medical tent on the team’s sideline.
Deguara, a 2020 third-round pick, was only just medically cleared to return to the field at the beginning of August after missing the majority of his rookie season with a torn ACL. While Sunday’s opener against the Saints was only his third game active for the Packers, the hope has been that he could pick up where he left off and develop into a meaningful weapon for the offense behind fellow tight ends Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis.
The Packers were trailing 24-3 against the Saints with 3:07 left to play in the third quarter.
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Could Deguara’s Injury Help Sternberger?
Depending on how long Deguara’s concussion keeps him out of the lineup, it may end up working out that Jace Sternberger’s two-game suspension is a blessing in disguise.
The Packers were given the opportunity to delay their final roster decision on Sternberger coming out of training camp since his suspension meant he wouldn’t count against their 53-man roster until Week 3 of the regular season. While it has been suspected that the Packers may want to move on from him and continue with Tonyan, Lewis, Deguara and Dominique Dafney as their four tight ends, an injury to their ranks — especially a long-term one — could persuade them to give their 2019 third-round pick one more chance to earn his keep.
There is still at least some reason to believe in Sternberger. While his blocking still needs work, he added weight in the offseason that didn’t seem to slow him down much when running routes in the preseason. He has also caught 15 of the 19 passes (78.9%) thrown his way for 129 yards and two touchdowns during his first two years with the team, which is modest production despite the extremely small sampling size.
Regardless, the Packers cannot activate Sternberger until after Week 2’s Monday Night Football game against the Detroit Lions, so they will need another backup plan if Deguara is forced to miss time beyond the season opener. It is possible they will consider calling up practice-squad tight end Bronson Kaufusi, who was a camp favorite for Aaron Rodgers during the summer.