The Green Bay Packers will have starting linebacker Quay Walker available for Week 2’s game against the Atlanta Falcons as well as a little insurance at the running back position with doubts about Aaron Jones’ game-day status.
The Packers announced Saturday that Walker — who spent the entire week in the NFL’s concussion protocol — has been cleared and will not have an injury designation for Sunday’s game. They also elevated running back Patrick Taylor and safety Innis Gaines from the practice squad to their game-day roster in a pair of Saturday roster moves.
Having Walker in the lineup should be a boon for the Packers defense. The 2022 first-round pick was one of their best players on the field in their 38-20 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 1, tying for a second-most seven tackles and securing a game-winning pick-six in the fourth quarter. He also recorded two stops in the run game, where the Falcons thrived in their season opener with rookie Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier.
Aaron Jones Could Still Play Despite Taylor’s Elevation
On first look, the Packers’ decision to promote Taylor to the game-day roster might seem like an indication that Jones will not play against the Falcons this week. ESPN’s Adam Schefter even tweeted something to that effect, calling the move “another sign that they’re preparing to be” without their star running back on Sunday afternoon.
That conclusion might be a bit of a reach, though, when put into proper context.
The Packers flexed the same two players — including Taylor — to the active roster for Week 1’s matchup despite Jones and No. 2 running back AJ Dillon both being healthy coming into the game. Gaines and Taylor both played key roles against the Bears for Rich Bisaccia’s special teams unit, so their elevations are likely more to do with their value in the third phase and less about the uncertainty with Jones in Week 2.
A truer indicator of Jones’ availability will likely come on game day when the Packers have to decide whether to activate undrafted rookie running back Emanuel Wilson. He was a healthy scratch in Week 1, but the Packers have said he could get an opportunity to make his NFL debut if Jones is unable to suit up for them against the Falcons.
In other words, if Wilson ends up active, Jones most likely will not play on Sunday.
David Bakhtiari’s Status Not Indicative of New Issue
The Packers are understandably going to remain cautious with Bakhtiari and his knee for the remainder of his career in Green Bay, but it did raise a few eyebrows when he was given a questionable status for Week 2’s game after not having one in Week 1.
So, did a new issue arise with the five-time All-Pro to give the Packers pause?
“No, I think that’s just kind of the nature of the beast, and he’ll probably be questionable all year,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur answered when ESPN’s Rob Demovsky asked him a similar question during his September 15 press conference.
Bakhtiari did not practice at all for a second straight week, but he certainly proved in Week 1’s outing against the Bears that he is capable of performing at a high level even when he doesn’t practice. He did not allow a single pressure on 55 total snaps and tied with Chicago’s Braxton Jones as Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded pass-blocker (89.9) in the first week of the 2023 season.
Now, perhaps Bakhtiari would prefer not to risk the health of his knee on the turf field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium given how exhaustive his recovery was. He vehemently criticized the NFL for its continued use of artificial turf after former teammate Aaron Rodgers suffered a significant Achilles injury on Monday Night Football. At this point, it is pure speculation that Bakhtiari might use that as a reason not to play, though.