The Green Bay Packers will could need another plan for kickoff returns in the coming weeks after rookie running back Kylin Hill sustained a scary hit in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals and was carted off the field.
On the ensuing kickoff following the Cardinals’ second touchdown of the night, Hill attempted to take the ball out of the Packers’ end zone and made it as far as their own 9-yard line before Jonathan Ward delivered a heavy hit to his lower body, leaving both of the backup rushers down on the field and needing medical attention.
Hill ended up taking a ride in the cart to the locker room, while the Cardinals were forced to bring out a stretcher for Ward, who was surrounded by his teammates and flashed a thumbs-up on his way off the field. The Packers quickly announced that Hill would be out for the remainder of the game.
Hill’s role on offense has been minimal through the first eight games of the season, taking just 10 carries for 24 yards and one first down. As a kickoff returner, though, he has been more effective with an average of 20.7 yards on nine returns, including one he took for 41 yards against the Detroit Lions in Week 2.
Malik Taylor replaced Hill as the team’s kickoff returner for the remainder of the game, which ended with a 24-21 victory for the Packers after Rasul Douglas’ game-sealing interception in the end zone.
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Packers Lose More Than Hill vs. Cardinals
The Packers’ injury troubles didn’t start or stop with Hill on Thursday night; although, none of the rest of them were forced to ride the cart into the locker room.
Defensive lineman Kingsley Keke (concussion) dropped out early in the second half to be evaluated for a concussion and was eventually ruled out, taking a key piece out of the Packers’ defensive front. It is a troubling sign for the third-year defender after a concussion sidelined him for the final three games of the 2020 season, including both during Green Bay’s playoff run to the NFC Championship Game.
The Packers also saw starting tight end Robert Tonyan go limping to the locker room after his 33-yard reception in the third quarter ended with him clutching his knee on the field. He was able to walk off the field and into the locker room without assistance, but he was deemed questionable and never returned to the game.
Losing Tonyan would be a much more significant problem for the Packers than Keke. The next-man tight end in the lineup is Marcedes Lewis, who nearly pulled in a one-handed touchdown on the night before a replay determined he did not get both feet in the end zone. While he can get the job done to an extent, the 37-year-old veteran will need some help from Josiah Deguara (two receptions for 20 yards against Arizona) and Dominique Dafney if Tonyan is forced to miss time in the coming weeks.
Fortunately, the Packers will have 10 days before their next matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, which is slated to kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET on November 7 in Week 9.