Packers tackle Jason Spriggs carted off with left knee injury
GREEN BAY – Plans for the Green Bay Packers to closely evaluate their young players Saturday night started to go awry after just one snap.
Right tackle Jason Spriggs was carted to the locker room after his left knee buckled on the first play against the Minnesota Vikings. He was ruled out of the game with a knee injury. It was reminiscent of last month when starter Bryan Bulaga was carted to the locker room with a knee injury against the Detroit Lions.
Spriggs’ injury forces the Packers to adjust their plan. Not only did they want to continue evaluating Spriggs to see if he might be a long-term option at right tackle, but it also removes the opportunity for team brass to evaluate the offensive line’s interior.
With Spriggs out, Justin McCray immediately moved to right tackle, and reserve Lucas Patrick filled in at right guard.
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McCray started at right guard for veteran Jahri Evans. It’s unclear whether Evans could have played Saturday if the Packers were still alive in the playoff hunt, but he was inactive for the first time all season after being questionable with a knee injury. Evans is on a one-year deal, and the Packers will have to make a decision whether to bring him back in the spring. McCray would be his ideal replacement.
McCray has been the Packers' best backup offensive lineman this season, with the versatility to play multiple positions. But he’s said his best position, and the position where he has the most experience, is right guard. It’s a position the Packers haven’t been able to see McCray play for a full game this season. McCray has played extensively in six games: three at right tackle, and three at left guard.
Saturday night was supposed to be the Packers chance to get a good evaluation of McCray at right guard. Their best chance to see if he could be their starter in 2018, potentially replacing Evans. To show how important these types of starts can become, remember the Packers made the decision before their 2016 season to release Josh Sitton and promote Lane Taylor as a starter in part because of how well Taylor played in a start at left guard in their 2015 regular-season against the Vikings.
With McCray back at right tackle, the Packers won’t get that chance.