The Green Bay Packers are getting a little bit of insurance for their receiving corps ahead of Week 3’s road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with several of their top wide receivers missing practice with injuries.
According to the NFL’s official transaction wire for September 22, the Packers have re-signed veteran wide receiver Travis Fulgham to their practice squad and released safety Mike Brown to make room for him on the 16-man roster, giving them a second wideout to consider calling up to the game-day roster against the Buccaneers on Sunday.
The Packers were missing four of their top wide receivers for Thursday’s second practice of Week 3 with Allen Lazard (ankle), Sammy Watkins (hamstring), rookie Christian Watson (hamstring) and Randall Cobb (illness) all sidelined with injuries and ailments. Lazard, Watkins and Watson were all limited participants in Wednesday’s first practice, while Cobb has now missed two consecutive days with his unspecified illness.
Until they return, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have to make do with a healthy group of receivers that includes Romeo Doubs, Amari Rodgers, Samori Toure, Juwann Winfree (practice squad) and Fulgham. The Packers will still have one more practice on Friday before they are required to post injury designations for Week 3.
Fulgham can at least provide the Packers with some proven production if they find themselves shorthanded. He led the Philadelphia Eagles in receiving yards (539) during the 2020 season and went on an impressive five-game stretch of 29 catches for 435 yards and four touchdowns when the Eagles were dealing with injured starting receivers. Given how little the rest of the Packers’ healthy receivers have produced, it could be a comfort to have him up on the game-day roster in Tampa Bay.
Marcedes Lewis’ Groin Injury Could Create Problems
The Packers weren’t just without their top four wide receivers at Thursday’s practice. Veteran wide receiver Marcedes Lewis was also absent after getting added to the injury report at the start of the week with a new groin injury, one that could pose a problem for Green Bay’s run game in the upcoming week against a stout Tampa Bay defense.
The good news with Lewis is that the 38-year-old typically takes a veteran rest day on Thursdays as part of the Packers’ process for reducing the wear on his body throughout the season, so his absence isn’t a direct sign that his groin injury is giving him a lot of trouble. That said, he is an essential run blocker for them and would be sorely missed if he was held out of Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. According to Pro Football Focus, Lewis has been the third-highest-graded run-blocker (68.7) for the Packers through the first two games and has shown prowess for zone blocking (76.8).
The Packers would be forced to rely more upon Tyler Davis if Lewis were held back for any reason against the Buccaneers. He has also been somewhat reliable as a run-blocker in the first two games (64.6) with more run-blocking snaps taken than both Robert Tonyan and Josiah Deguara, but he hasn’t been battled tested as much as Lewis.
Defensive tackle Kenny Clark was also limited with a groin injury in Thursday’s practice.
David Bakhtiari Returns to Practice, Status Unknown
While Aaron Rodgers was down a number of his top wide receivers on Thursday, he did have his All-Pro blindside blocker — David Bakhtiari — back at practice after missing the first session of the week. Bakhtiari has been working back from a complicated knee injury that has prevented him from playing a full game since late in the 2020 season, but there is a chance he could be cleared to play against the Buccaneers after getting listed as questionable for each of the first two games.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur dismissed the idea that a tough matchup in Tampa Bay wouldn’t be a suitable environment for Bakhtiari to return and instead indicated he would play if they felt he was ready to go. Whether they will actually clear him, though, remains an ongoing mystery that LaFleur himself has even stopped trying to solve.
“I have no idea,” LaFleur said Wednesday. “I just don’t even let my mind go there at this point.”