Count out another offensive weapon for the Green Bay Packers.
According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the Packers lost rookie tight end Josiah Deguara to a season-ending knee injury during Monday night’s win over the Atlanta Falcons, citing a source that says the 2020 third-round pick tore his ACL.
“Unfortunately, it looks to be a pretty bad one,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters Tuesday without confirming the extent of his injury. “I hurt for Josiah. I love what he’s all about, the mentality that he brings, and he’s certainly somebody we were really excited about.”
Deguara was playing only his second game of the season against the Falcons after emerging from Week 1’s opener in Minnesota with shin and ankle injuries. The injuries kept him out of Weeks 2 and 3, but he managed to overcome a questionable status for Week 4’s prime-time matchup and participate in seven offensive snaps before going down in the fourth quarter.
Deguara was injured with less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter and appeared to hurt his left knee while blocking for a punt, needing the help of the medical staff to make it off the field. Both LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers met him on the sideline and offered some words as he headed into the locker room.
“It’s been a little of a roller coaster because … I thought he had a great game against Minnesota in Week 1 and then he goes out with the ankle injury,” LaFleur added. “It’s been tough, but we expect him to bounce back from it and we still think he has a really bright future in this league.”
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Tough Loss, But Packers TE Room Will Endure
LaFleur has been talking about the versatility of Deguara as an offensive weapon since he was added in late April, recognizing his value as a tight end/H-back type of piece with solid blocking skills. He even showed a college clip of Deguara to his Packers team last season, long before he was drafted, as an example of a no-quit attitude on the field.
That Deguara will now have his rookie season capped at 31 total offensive snaps played hurts the Packers’ imaginative playbook, but the good news is his absence won’t leave a significant void in the tight end room.
The Packers have a clear No. 1 pass-catching tight end in Robert Tonyan after his breakout game against the Falcons with 2019 third-round pick Jace Sternberger still working to earn a greater role in the offense. They also still have a veteran run-blocker in Marcedes Lewis; though, he missed Week 4’s game with a knee injury and could still be on the mend when they emerge from the bye.
The biggest problem is how the injury will set back Deguara’s development. The hope is he will be able to bounce back strong for the 2021 season, but ACL tears can be difficult and don’t always guarantee the same player will return. Two things working in his favor are his youth (23 years old) and the security of being an early-round draft pick. Whereas an undrafted signing like Curtis Bolton isn’t given 14 months to recover from a similar injury, Deguara could hypothetically take longer and not have to worry about his status on the roster.
How long Deguara’s actually recovery will take is something, of course, that can’t be known until it happens, but there seems to be no reason why the Packers wouldn’t give him all the time he needs to get back to full health.