Packers place Quarless on temporary IR

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless catches a pass in the first half.

The Green Bay Packers host the Philadelphia Eagles,  Saturday, August 29, 2015, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. 

Wm.Glasheen/P-C Media

The Green Bay Packers have placed tight end Andrew Quarless on temporary injured reserve, clearing a roster spot for either an extra tight end or returning defensive lineman Letroy Guion.

The Packers didn’t immediately execute a corresponding roster move. Guion returned to practice Wednesday on a roster exemption after being suspended the past three games due to his February arrest in Starke, Fla., for felony possession of marijuana.

Quarless sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in Monday night’s 38-28 win over Kansas City, sidelining him for at least a month. With the Packers using the designation on Quarless, he’ll be eligible to return to practice after six weeks and play after eight.

The earliest Quarless could be back is on Thanksgiving when the Packers play Chicago on Nov. 28. It’s the fourth time the Packers have had the option available to them. Each NFL team is allotted only one designation, so any other significant injury would require the player either staying on the 53-man roster or being placed on season-ending injured reserve.

The Packers traditionally overload with four — and sometimes five — tight ends, but have only two on the active roster at the moment with starter Richard Rodgers and rookie Kennard Backman, who has yet to play in a regular-season game this season.

A sixth-round pick in May’s draft, Backman got off to a slow start to training camp before finishing on a high note with a 20-yard catch in traffic in the preseason finale against New Orleans. The Packers felt strongly enough about Backman’s upside to keep him over Perillo and rookie Mitchell Henry, who was then claimed by Denver off waivers.

“I think toward the end of training camp I probably hit my better stride and I feel like I’m continuing to do the same thing now,” Backman said.

If they need a third, the Packers also could promote Justin Perillo from the practice squad. He finished last season on the active roster and saw action in two games. He’s spent a year in Green Bay’s system and is viewed as a capable special-teams player if the Packers want to limit Rodgers’ reps going forward.

The designated-to-return option was introduced in 2012. The Packers used their first tag on running back Cedric Benson, who ended up missing the entire season because of a Lisfranc injury anyway.

The Packers got the most out of the tag in 2013 when receiver Randall Cobb broke his leg. He was able to return to the roster in time to catch the game-winning touchdown against the Bears in the regular-season finale. Last year, they utilized it on center JC Tretter, but he played sparingly due to Corey Linsley’s strong play. and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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