The Green Bay Packers are going to be missing a handful of role players for the final stretch of the 2020 regular season.
Per the team’s transaction wire, the Packers moved running back/ return specialist Tyler Ervin (foot), safety/dime linebacker Raven Greene (shoulder) and veteran defensive lineman Billy Winn (triceps) to injured reserve Wednesday afternoon after each of them went down with their respective injuries in Sunday’s 30-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur had told reporters on Monday there was “a lot of concern” regarding each of the three players with ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reporting they were each expected to miss significant time. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network followed up on Tuesday with reports that both Ervin and Winn would be headed to IR — along with the possibility that Ervin’s season could be over.
The Packers also activated sixth-round offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak from the reserve/non-football injury list. The rookie out of Indiana had been recovering from a torn ACL he sustained during his final collegiate season and had not been expected to play in 2020, but his activation would seem to give him a shot of making his NFL debut in the coming weeks.
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Packers Have Space to Add Roster Depth
The Packers still have three openings on their 53-man roster and another spot available on their practice squad, giving them plenty of room to add some depth over the next few weeks while they determine how to cover the losses of their three IR-designated players.
The preliminary adjustments came Tuesday when safety Henry Black was promoted to the active roster and journeyman center Anthony Fabiano was inked to the practice squad. Black provides some depth — and, perhaps, utility as a dime linebacker — to compensate for Greene’s absence, while Fabiano secures an extra center with starter Corey Linsley already on IR.
The Packers also have a pair of new additions who can fill some of the unoccupied roles. Tavon Austin can slide into the lineup as a return man and as a gadget receiving/rushing weapon for the offense, seemingly offering more upside than Ervin ever did with more than 3,300 yards from scrimmage over his career. As for new defensive tackle Anthony Rush, he can pick up the rotational reps that Winn now leaves behind.
At the same time, there are some positions that could still potentially use reinforcements. Another defensive lineman may be necessary to account for the losses of both Winn and Montravius Adams, who only just last week was placed on IR. A wide receiver or tight end promotion from the practice squad could also be useful with Equanimeous St. Brown and Jace Sternberger, both in concussion protocol, uncertain to play in Week 14.
Stepaniak’s Return Could Supply Interior Depth
While it remains to be seen how quickly Stepaniak will enter the fold for the Packers, his activation gives them another young depth piece behind their constantly-changing offensive line. The combination of Lucas Patrick, Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner got the job done against the Eagles last Sunday night, but it doesn’t hurt to have Stepaniak or fellow rookie Jon Runyan Jr. developing in the background in case injuries strike again.
Stepaniak made most of his 31 starts for the Hoosiers at right guard but does possess a little flexibility in terms of positioning that could be useful.