Packers Host Former Lions 2nd-Round RB for Roster Workout

Kerryon Workout Packers

Getty Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson #33 celebrates his touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at Ford Field on November 18, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan

The Green Bay Packers are considering enlisting the help of an explosive former second-round pick with star running back Aaron Jones currently on the mend.

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Packers hosted former Detroit Lions starter Kerryon Johnson for a free-agent workout on Tuesday, November 16, on the same day that they added another rusher — Kerrith Whyte Jr. — to their practice squad. It is likely that Johnson is a candidate for a similar role; albeit one with much more experience.

The Packers are expecting to spend the next few weeks without Jones after he injured his knee in Week 10’s win over Seattle, turning over the top role in the rotation to 2020 second-round pick AJ Dillon. They will also have second-year Patrick Taylor functioning in a complementary role after taking his first two NFL carries against the Seahawks last weekend and spending his entire rookie year recovering from a foot injury.

At the same time, it is highly unlikely the Packers will head into Week 11’s road game against the Minnesota Vikings without adding at least one more running back to their active rotation. Ryquell Anderson — who they protected on their practice squad this week — or Whyte seem like good possibilities as standard game-day elevations, but they could have competition if Johnson is signed to the practice squad.

The Packers would need to clear a space on either their 53-man roster or 16-man practice squad if they decided to sign Johnson.

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Johnson Fizzled Out in Detroit

Johnson was the No. 43 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft and ran for a total of 1,044 yards and six touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Lions, finishing as their leading rusher in both 2018 and 2019. Unfortunately, he sat out six games as a rookie with a knee injury and missed another eight in his second year due to another knee issue, making him difficult to trust in terms of availability.

By 2020, the Lions had bumped Johnson to a third-stringer role behind second-round rookie D’Andre Swift and veteran Adrian Peterson. He then became expendable during the 2021 offseason when they signed Jamaal Williams as a free agent and drafted Oregon State standout Jermar Jefferson in the seventh round, leading the Lions to cut their losses and move on from him in early May.

Since leaving Detroit, Johnson has tried to make things work in Philadelphia and San Francisco with the latter stint being with the 49ers’ practice squad for a few weeks at the start of the 2021 season. He even received an elevation to the game-day elevation in Week 3 for the 49ers when they hosted the Packers, but he did not play any offense.

Packers Hoping Jones Will Return Soon

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jones had an MRI on Monday that confirmed he had suffered an MCL sprain against the Seahawks and is expected to miss “one to two weeks” of action. Optimistically, he could be back in time for Week 12’s matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, but the Packers could also take their time and let him rest through their Week 13 bye to ensure he is back in fighting shape for a postseason run.

Either way, the outlook appears good for Jones all things considered.

“I don’t think it’s going to be long term, but we’ll just monitor it on a daily basis and see how fast he can heal up because he’s certainly a guy you want out on the field,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said. “He does so much for our team, just not only from a production standpoint but also just the energy he brings to our team is pretty contagious.”

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