The Green Bay Packers have scooped up a former member of the Minnesota Vikings’ undrafted rookie class and signed him to fill the final opening on their practice squad, per the team’s transaction wire.
The Packers signed rookie tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart on Wednesday to bring their 16-man practice squad up to capacity ahead of their Sunday Night Football clash against the New Orleans Saints. He had taken an official visit with the team on Monday, according to the NFL’s workouts/tryouts list.
A spot was cleared on the practice squad Tuesday when the Packers released injury-troubled outside linebacker Greg Roberts, who spent most of his time between the reserve/PUP and injured reserve lists and departs without ever playing a live snap.
Griffin-Stewart spent the majority of his college career at Rutgers but truly shined in his final year as a graduate transfer at Pitt, building a reputation as a block-first tight end while also tallying 19 receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown. He signed with the Vikings in May as a UDFA and spent all of training camp with them before getting waived during initial roster cuts.
He will wear No. 80 for the Packers, as he showed off with his new jersey on Twitter.
— Nakia Griffin-Stewart (@NakiaGriffin) September 23, 2020
The Packers may have filled their practice squad to capacity, but there are still two spots available on their 53-man roster after wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and Lane Taylor were both placed on injured reserve in the past week.
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Lewis Should Make for Good Mentor
Griffin-Stewart once again has a place with an NFL team, but he will likely have a long way to go before getting a real shot at playing time. The good news is the rookie now has the opportunity to learn from one of the best veteran run-blocking tight ends in the game with Marcedes Lewis leading the Packers’ position group.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur places heavy value in offensive players who can lay down blocks whether it is receivers helping out in the run game or running backs clearing a path for a wideout after a reception. That sentiment is also one of the reasons why Lewis was brought back on a one-year contract at 36 years old, as the tight ends are asked to do it all.
The Packers might not have a need for someone like Griffin-Stewart on their active roster right now with Lewis stable and Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger and rookie Josiah Deugara all competing for pass-catching reps, but there is a definite benefit to developing a young run-blocker as a possible addition for the future. He is one of two tight ends of the Packers’ practice squad, but John Lovett — a former Princeton quarterback — comes with some atypical versatility that sets the two of them apart.
The Packers’ practice squad has produced some promising players for the active roster in recent history, the most notable of which might be wide receiver Allen Lazard. The Packers also have outside linebacker Randy Ramsey and wideout Malik Taylor among their current 53-man group after both were seasonlong members of their practice squad in 2019.