Packers RB Sidelined With New Injury Amid Roster Pursuit

Patrick Taylor Injury

Getty Patrick Taylor #27 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball against the New York Jets in the second half of a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 21, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Green Bay Packers have been eyeing backup Patrick Taylor as a possible third running back for their rotation to start the 2022 season while Kylin Hill recovers from an ACL injury, but he will first need to prove he can stay healthy.

Taylor missed Wednesday’s training-camp practice for the Packers with a new groin injury that could spell trouble for his roster pursuit if it keeps him sidelined for a significant amount of time. The 24-year-old running back was originally placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with an unspecified injury at the beginning of camp, but he was activated on July 27 and didn’t end up missing any practice.

The Packers also held out newly-signed wide receiver Osirus Mitchell with a quad issue.

Taylor has been an easy frontrunner to start the new year as the Packers’ No. 3 running back with just two undrafted rookies competing against him for depth roles. He spent the final two months of the 2021 regular season on the team’s active roster and played in each of their final nine games, rushing 23 times for 89 yards and scoring his first career NFL touchdown in Week 18’s finale against the Detroit Lions.

The longer the third-year pro remains on the sideline, though, the more likely it is the Packers will have to look elsewhere to fill out their rushing rotation. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are a sure-fired duo to lead the charge during the season, but neither is likely to get many reps during preseason games. And if Taylor isn’t available to take them, the bulk of the exhibition work would fall to rookies Tyler Goodson and BJ Baylor.

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Several Key Packers Remain on Injury Lists

While Taylor and Mitchell were the only two new additions to injury lists on Wednesday, the Packers still have a handful of key players not practicing in camp’s second week.

The Packers currently have four players working back from ACL tears, including three — Robert Tonyan, Elgton Jenkins and Hill — who sustained their injuries during the 2021 season. David Bakhtiari, their five-time All-Pro left tackle, is also still progressing through the recovery process with an ACL injury, but he clarified to reporters during the first week of camp that his recovery is no longer focused on the ACL but rather some of the other damage that his left knee sustained during his injury on December 31, 2020.

For now, it is difficult to say what the expectations are for each of the four of them. All three of the players who tore their ACLs in 2021 will have spent at least nine months recovering by the time the Packers begin the 2022 season on September 11, but Bakhtiari’s grueling recovery could compel Green Bay to take even more time easing them back into the lineup, especially with starters like Jenkins and Tonyan. As for Bakhtiari himself, he says his concern level is “low” but has no official timeline for return.

Otherwise, the Packers have just two other players on the PUP list at the moment with veteran kicker Mason Crosby and rookie wide receiver Christian Watson both recovering from pre-camp knee surgeries. Cornerback/special teams ace Keisean Nixon also remains on the non-football injury list, while rookie center Cole Schneider and wide receiver Malik Taylor have missed two days of practice as DNPs (did not participate).

Watkins Easing Back into Team Drills

In more positive injury news, Sammy Watkins has been participating in 11-on-11 team drills with the Packers since the start of the second week of camp, marking another step toward full recovery for the veteran receiver after initially landing on the non-football injury list with a hamstring issue.

The 29-year-old was the only experienced receiver the Packers signed in 2022 free agency and could become a valuable weapon for Aaron Rodgers in the upcoming season after losing Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason. The trick for Watkins will be staying healthy as he has missed a combined 27 games due to injuries throughout his career. The Packers won’t be taking any risks with him, either.

“It’s just a progression,” LaFleur said on August 2 of Watkins. “We’re going to be smart with him and limit his reps until we feel like he’s on the other side of whatever he had. I think each and every day you’ll see an increased workload, provided he’s feeling good. Because it does us no good if he’s not available for us.”

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