GREEN BAY - Robert Tonyan spent the last week trying to work out a hip injury suffered against Dallas, going so far as to get extra stretching done in the locker room on a foam roller during media availability.
As he tried to get right, it felt like the Green Bay Packers would make a pregame roster move late in the week in the chance he couldn’t go, as head coach Matt LaFleur likes to have three tight ends active on game day.
“You look at kind of what happened (Thursday night) with the (New England) Patriots, going in with two tight ends, a guy gets dinged and now you kind of limit yourself personnel wise,” LaFleur said during the week. “That’s certainly something that we’re looking at, you know, as we approach this game.”
The club decided to rule Tonyan out for Monday’s game on Friday and took the weekend to decide how to proceed. On Monday, the Packers waived kick returner Tremon Smith to promote tight end Evan Baylis to the 53-man roster. Rookie Darrius Shepherd returned kickoffs Monday night against Detroit.
“That’s a fun thing week by week,” Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said of late personnel decisions. “Sometimes you don’t know who’s going to be up till game day. You have to have a system that is able to adjust if something happens on game day and during the week we just have to plan for everything. We never want to go in expecting something and then something happens. I mean, anything can happen all the way until that time. So, that’s just kind of how we operate, so you just keep your head down and get a plan for anything and everything.”
Baylis was part of the same kind of roster juggling Sept. 19 when he was signed to the active roster before the Packers faced Denver on Sept. 22. He also played against Philadelphia before being waived and re-signed to the practice squad.
Packers’ inactive list injury-driven
At the start of the season, the Packers were able to play some matchups with their active 46-man roster, but of late they’ve had to use their seven inactive spots for injured players. Wide receiver Davante Adams headlined that list for a second straight week with turf toe and was joined by starting safety Darnell Savage (ankle). Cornerback Tony Brown (hamstring) and tight end Tonyan (hip) were also inactive due to injury.
Also inactive were offensive linemen Adam Pankey and Cole Madison, along with running back Dexter Williams.
For the Lions, tight end T.J. Hockenson was active after being sidelined by a concussion. Former Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels (foot) was inactive.
Dexter Williams’ debut waits another week
Williams, the Packers’ rookie running back, was inactive for a sixth straight time Monday night. The Packers had three halfbacks on the game-day roster, including Tra Carson. Williams beat out Carson for a roster spot out of training camp, but Carson has since passed him on the depth chart.
“He’s so consistent,” coach Matt LaFleur said of Carson during the week, “and you can count on him. You trust what he’s going to do. He brings an element of toughness. The game’s not too big for him. I thought he did a lot of great things in that game, not only running the football in his limited opportunities, but also from a protection standpoint. He filled in on special teams, did a great job there. He’s just a guy that is steady, and you can totally count on.”
As for Williams, it appears the rookie might be in the midst of a redshirt season, in which he can sit, learn and develop.
LaFleur stopped short of calling it a redshirt year, but it’s clear Williams has some room to grow before he can contribute on the field.
“I don’t necessarily believe in redshirt years,” LaFleur said. “Everybody has to have an urgency about the way they go about their business, and Dexter is a young player. I think he’s coming along. I still think there’s a lot of room for growth there, with him. But I’m excited about his future.”