GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers' pass coverage took a hit Monday when safety Raven Greene was placed on injured reserve.
Greene exited Sunday’s win against the Minnesota Vikings with an ankle injury. He was down on the ground several minutes with teammates surrounding him on one knee before being carted to the locker room.
Greene, who is eligible to return from IR in eight weeks, was seen in a walking boot Monday inside the Packers’ locker room.
The second-year safety’s primary role was as a hybrid linebacker. Greene frequently dropped into the box, an extra defensive back lined up beside inside linebacker Blake Martinez. That’s where he played 31 of his 55 snaps in the Packers’ opening win at the Chicago Bears, and where he mostly played Sunday. Greene was a replacement for injured Oren Burks, who is unlikely to return from his partially torn pectoral muscle for at least a couple more weeks.
Without Greene and Burks, the Packers' options are thin. They released Josh Jones late in training camp. The former second-round pick would have been a natural next man up. The Packers claimed cornerback Tremon Smith off waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday. Safety Ibraheim Campbell is still four weeks from being eligible to return from the physically unable to perform list.
Adrian Amos, the veteran safety signed this offseason, might be a candidate to get more snaps in the box, especially in clear passing downs. In running downs, the Packers are likely to line up linebacker B.J. Goodson beside Martinez.
The agency for Smith tweeted that the Packers claimed the second-year player Monday. Smith, a sixth-round pick out of Central Arkansas a year ago, appeared in 14 games for the Chiefs last season and played in both playoff games.
At 6 feet and 190 pounds, Smith was drafted as a cornerback but was used primarily as a kick returner by Andy Reid. He averaged 26.8 yards per kick return with a long of 97 yards in 2018. The Kansas City Star reported upon his release that Smith saw time at running back in training camp before being moved back to the secondary. He had played just one game this season and did not have any kick returns.
In his final season at Central Arkansas in 2017, Smith had five interceptions and 11 passes defensed. In his college career he had 15 interceptions and 53 pass breakups. Prior to the draft, he ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash.
Meanwhile, rookie safety Darnell Savage got kicked in the shin during the game against the Vikings, so the first-round pick out of Maryland left Lambeau Field in a walking boot on his right foot.
A source said the move was purely precautionary for Savage, who has made an impact immediately for the Packers' defense. Savage forced a fumble and deflected a pass that turned into an interception for the Packers in their victory over the Vikings.
Savage politely declined to speak Monday.
Brown gets a read to block Vikings’ PAT
After a 45-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Stefon Diggs brought the Vikings to within 21-16 on Sunday, Diggs was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Coach Matt LaFleur elected to tack on the 15 yards to kicker Dan Bailey’s extra point attempt rather than apply it to the kickoff, but he said Monday that he made that decision when the Vikings’ offense was still on the field and he felt a two-point conversion attempt was in play.
“I wanted to take that away from them,” LaFleur said. “Initially, I’d much rather take that on the kickoff but with that situation with the potential to make it a three-point game, I said I don’t want to risk that.”
That decision suited Tony Brown just fine, as the second-year corner had told special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga that he felt he was close to getting to a kick after measuring up the Vikings operation on Bailey’s first three tries (one missed field goal, one made field goal and one made point after).
“You have situations where players can tell a coach when they have a feeling about something they can do based on what happened the plays before, so I told him I feel like I can block this and then I did it,” Brown said. “I don’t know if me telling him that prior to helped him take the penalty, but I know it helped me with my trajectory because the further back they do a field goal attempt the lower the ball has to travel.”
With that lower ball flight from 48 yards away than the normal 33, Brown got around the edge and then blocked the point after to keep it a five-point game.
“I saw they gave me an edge,” Brown said. “I felt like I could block it. I felt like I could. When I came off I saw that I could block it and I reached out and got it.”
Packers elect permanent captains
Eagle-eyed fans noticed that Aaron Rodgers, Za’Darius Smith and Mason Crosby had permanent captain patches sewn onto their jerseys to start this season. They will be joined at the coin toss by a rotating group of teammates each week.
“We had the team vote,” LaFleur said. “The one thing I'll say about this team is I feel like we've got a lot of good leaders. So, went with one captain for each side of the ball and we're gonna rotate game captains as well.”
The 2019 Packers Schedule as of Oct. 20, With Scores Wochit
Start bodes well for Packers
To open the season 2-0 — let alone both wins coming against division opponents — puts a team on the right track for the postseason. Since 2007, teams that start 2-0 have a 55.1% chance of reaching the postseason, though that trend has cooled the last few years.
In 2018, five of the seven teams to begin 2-0 did not make the playoffs and in 2016 and 2017 four of the eight teams that began those seasons with two victories were sitting home in January.
As for the Packers, a 2-0 start is relatively rare in the Aaron Rodgers era. Since taking over as the starter in 2008, this season is just the fifth time the Packers have won their first two games (with final regular-season record):
2010: 10-6, Super Bowl champions