Packers Defense Could Get Help as 2021 1st-Rounder Eligible to Return

Eric Stokes, Packers DB

Getty Eric Stokes, Packers DB

If there is something good coming out of what has been a rough few days for the Green Bay Packers, with the humbling loss to the Lions at home on national television combined with the likely loss of left tackle David Bakhtiari for the remainder of the 2023 season, it’s that we are now past Week 4 and it is possible that there will be help on the way.

That could mean the return of cornerback Eric Stokes from the physically unable to perform list. Stokes has been out since Week 9 of last year with a foot injury and was placed on the PUP in training camp. When the Packers finalized their 53-man roster at the end of August, he was still not ready to come off.

Stokes suffered what is called a Lisfranc fracture, a broken bone in the arch of the foot that sometimes requires as much as year for recovery and rehab. Even if he is healthy enough to return to action, he will first have to get back on the practice field.

When coach Matt LaFleur was asked about Stokes last week, he was cautious about his return this week: “We’re hopeful, but we’ll see,” he said.

Eric Stokes Fastest on Packers?

The Packers are looking for some help in stopping the run, but at this point, depth at any position defensively is welcome—Green Bay has been without star corner Jaire Alexander for the last two weeks. Stokes, the team’s first-round pick in 2021, started all nine games he was healthy for last season, and started 14 of 16 games as a rookie.

Stokes is arguably the fastest player on the Packers, having recorded a 40-yard dash time of 4.31 when he was at the NFL’s Combine two years ago. That is a tick faster than wide receiver Christian Watson (4.33).

Speaking over the summer, Stokes expressed the frustration and ups-and-downs that come with rehab.

“You have your days, you have your frustrating days, but it is what it is,” Stokes said, via “That’s what I always tell myself. It is what it is. I know the type of injury I’ve got, I knew everything that comes along with it. It’s been a roller-coaster ride, I ain’t going to lie to you. I’ve had my highs and I’ve had my lows. But I’m just taking everything with it because at the end of the day I know I’m blessed.”

Christian Watson Returned Slowly

Speaking of Watson, the Packers had been delicate with him in his rehab, too, from a hamstring injury suffered just before the start of the season. He missed three weeks, but did finally play in Week 4, and though the dominance of Detroit was the story last Thursday, Watson managed to get into the end zone in his 2023 debut.

And the hamstring held up just fine.

Watson admitted that he wanted to come back ahead of how the Packers had scheduled him.

“At the end of the day, I know they were trying to do what is best for me,” Watson said. “I was trying to push myself probably a little bit more than I should have been. So, I’m definitely glad they have my back in the training room.”

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