Packers Release Rookie to Make Room for Ex-Bears TE

Dax Raymond Packers

Getty Darwin Thompson #5 of the Utah State Aggies celebrate his fourth quarter touchdown with Dax Raymond #87 and Quin Ficklin #51 while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on August 31, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 38-31.

The Green Bay Packers are swapping practice-squad tight ends ahead of their Week 9 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst announced Tuesday the signing of second-year tight end Dax Raymond to their practice squad along with the corresponding release of Nakia Griffin-Stewart, keeping the roster at its 16-man capacity. Raymond had visited the Packers for a workout ahead of Week 8’s home game against Minnesota.

Raymond was an undrafted rookie for the Chicago Bears in 2019 who spent most of his first season on the practice squad, but they cut loose the 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end shortly following the 2020 NFL draft after loading up on tight ends. He quickly landed on his feet with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but an injury held him back in training camp and saw him released ahead of the cutdown deadline with a settlement.

Now, Raymond is taking a Packers practice-squad spot from Griffin-Stewart, who has been with the team since the third week of the regular season but was never elevated to the game-day roster at any point in five games. Whether Raymond will have a better chance of cracking the lineup is doubtful at best with Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger both continuing to show positive developments for the Packers.

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How Will Packers Address Roster Openings?

The Packers still have three openings on their active roster after putting a trio of players on their reserve/COVID-19 list to begin the week, but no moves were announced Tuesday to fill them with just two days left before their Week 9 matchup on the West Coast.

As many as two of those spots could go to players coming off of injured reserve with wide receiver Allen Lazard and linebacker Christian Kirksey both practicing for a second straight week. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters Tuesday night that Lazard was “really close” to getting back on the field, but he remained generally noncommittal about his injured players for the upcoming week.

“Those guys are working hard to prepare and get ready to play,” LaFleur said. “And if they’re ready to go, we’ll let them go  and if not we’ll get the other guys … ready to fill the void.”

Who Will Be Next for Game-Day Promotions?

The Packers have been pretty successful with their game-day elevations from the practice squad this season, getting some notable contributions from guys such as Henry Black. They also signed tight end/H-back John Lovett and defensive lineman Billy Winn to the active roster after auditioning him as a call-up in the first two weeks of the season.

As such, the question each week seems to be more about who than if in terms of the Packers’ temporary roster moves. Black is the only Packers practice-squad player who has used up both of his allotted game-day elevations this season, but the remainder of the reserve roster is eligible to be brought up against the 49ers.

Dexter Williams, a 2019 sixth-round pick, is the most likely candidate for promotion in Week 9 with the Packers potentially set to be without Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon. The latter two were added to the reserve/COVID-19 list coming out of the weekend, while the Packers are still remaining cautious with Jones’ calf injury that has cost him the past two games.

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