Packers Work Out Ex-Bengals DB With Starter’s Status in Doubt

Russell Packers Workout

Getty KeiVarae Russell #20 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up before the the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Green Bay Packers brought in a trio of defensive backs — including a former third-round draft pick — for workouts this week with starting cornerback Kevin King still on the mend and uncertain to play Sunday in Houston.

Per the NFL’s Friday workout list, the Packers hosted fourth-year KeiVarae Russell along with undrafted rookies Christian Angulo and Jameson Houston for tryouts dated to have taken place on Thursday. No new signings have been reported or announced since Green Bay added offensive lineman Ben Braden to their practice squad on Wednesday.

The Packers could be scouting some practice-squad talent for their secondary with two starters — King and safety Darnell Savage Jr. — currently injured and listed as doubtful in Week 7. King hasn’t played since Week 4 with a quadriceps injury, while Savage also hurt his quad in Week 6’s loss and didn’t practice all week.

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Russell Has NFL Interception on Resume

Russell was taken No. 74 overall by Kansas City in the 2016 NFL draft, but the Chiefs didn’t give him much time to develop and chose to waive him in mid-September of his rookie season with head coach Andy Reid offering some vague answers about a purely “football decision.” He landed quickly with the Cincinnati Bengals and went on to pick off a pass during his defensive debut in Week 17.

As for the two rookie defensive backs, each has bounced around between a few NFL teams this year. Houston spent portions of training camp in both Cleveland and Carolina after initially being signed as a Brown undrafted free agent. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound cornerback started every game in 2019 for Baylor prior to reaching the pros.

Angulo was another UDFA signing who didn’t stick around after training camp — and, oddly enough, was replaced with Russell on the New York Giants’ pre-cutdown roster earlier this summer — but he has spent time on practice squads in both Dallas and Indianapolis since the start of October.

Stanford Samuels Also Viable Call-Up Option

The Packers could be content with their current four cornerbacks — Jaire Alexander, Chandon Sullivan, Josh Jackson and Ka’dar Hollman — against the Texans, but signing a new defensive back isn’t the only way they could bolster depth on their active roster.

The Packers have a promising undrafted rookie in Stanford Samuels on their practice squad to consider for game-day elevation (or outright promotion) if they have liked his progress up to this point in the season. He was making plays in training camp and seemed to be vying for a spot on the initial 53-man roster before missing the cut. Even if just as a safety net, he wouldn’t be the worst option in the world.

Henry Black could be another call-up possibility for the Packers with Savage potentially taking a piece out of their safety position. As with their cornerbacks, the Packers may just decide to roll ahead with their four-man set of Adrian Amos, Raven Greene, Will Redmond and seventh-round rookie Vernon Scott, but Black might lend the same type of security in case other injuries strike.

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