The Green Bay Packers could be forced to shake up their offensive line against the Detroit Lions in Week 2 after putting one of their starters into concussion protocol following their season-opening loss.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur revealed ahead of Thursday’s first practice of the week that starting left guard Lucas Patrick is in concussion protocol, opening up the possibility of him being sidelined for Monday Night Football against the Lions.
Patrick did not participate in Thursday’s practice along with second-year tight end Josiah Deguara, who was knocked out of their 38-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints with a concussion and remains in the protocol as well. All-Pro pass rusher Za’Darius Smith (back) also did not practice despite playing in a limited capacity against the Saints.
The Packers did not confirm whether Patrick has sustained a concussion nor did they specify when he was injured during the game; however, as ESPN’s Rob Demovsky noted, it appears Patrick might have been hurt while diving for the football on the Packers’ final offensive snap of the game after backup quarterback Jordan Love had been strip-sacked. Patrick played 100% of the team’s offensive snaps in Week 1 as did the rest of the Packers’ starting offensive linemen.
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Darnell Savage Trending in Right Direction
While Patrick being in concussion protocol could complicate the Packers’ preparation for Week 2’s home opener, there was a bit of good injury news on Thursday.
Packers starting safety Darnell Savage Jr., who exited their Week 1 loss with a shoulder injury, was present and practicing on Thursday and will be given the week to determine whether he is healthy enough to play against the Lions on Monday night.
“He’s progressing through,” LaFleur said. “We’ll give him the week to see how he feels, but he’s been getting better, I would say, every day and certainly he’s a guy that we want available because he’s a guy that cover a lot of ground out there and he’s got great experience and explosiveness and is a key member of this football team.”
How Could Patrick’s Injury Impact Packers’ O-Line?
If Patrick is unable to play against the Lions, the Packers would be down three starters from last year’s squad with left tackle David Bakhtiari on the PUP list for at least the next five weeks and veteran center Corey Linsley signing elsewhere in free agency. Still, there are a couple of different ways the Packers could handle the loss if necessary.
The Packers could potentially have one of their starting offensive tackles — Elgton Jenkins or Billy Turner — slide back inside against the Lions given their ample experience as guards. While Jenkins held up nicely at left tackle in Week 1, Turner struggled with his pass protection on the right side despite spending a majority of the 2020 season in that spot. Veteran tackle Dennis Kelly also gives them an on-hand replacement at tackle for whichever of them is moved to the interior.
If the Packers prefer not to move their tackles, though, they could instead lean on Jon Runyan Jr. for a spot start in Patrick’s place. Runyan, a 2020 sixth-round pick, played 160 offensive snaps for the Packers during his rookie year and is currently listed as their backup for both guard spots. He was also expected to contend for a starting spot this season before losing a camp battle to fourth-round rookie Royce Newman, who started at right guard in Week 1.