Packers sign speedy corner Parry Nickerson after putting Kamal Martin, Kabion Ento on IR
GREEN BAY - One day after setting the initial 53-man roster, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst began to amend it with a series of moves.
First, the Packers placed linebacker Kamal Martin (knee) and corner Kabion Ento (foot) on injured reserve.
Gutekunst then filled one of the open roster spots by signing third-year cornerback Parry Nickerson.
Nickerson, 25, was a sixth-round pick of the New York Jets out of Tulane in 2018. He played in every game that year (with two starts) and made 21 total tackles and broke up one pass. Just before the start of the 2019 season, the Jets traded him to Seattle for a conditional draft pick in 2021.
Before playing a game for Seattle, Nickerson (5-10, 182) was released and then spent four weeks on the practice squad before Jacksonville signed him Oct. 17. The slot corner played four games for the Jaguars (one start) and made six tackles.
Nickerson spent July 30-Aug. 4 on the reserve/COVID-19 list and he was released on Saturday during final cuts.
The speedy Nickerson ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the 2018 NFL combine. In his career at Tulane Nickerson made 188 total tackles and had 16 interceptions.
Three players expected to be added
On Sunday, the Packers formally signed 14 players to their practice squad – all of whom went through training camp with the team.
Per league sources, wide receiver Robert Foster and linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris were en route to Green Bay on Sunday night and arrived Monday for the first rounds of COVID-19 testing. It is expected that once they pass the tests and physicals, they will be signed.
Running back Dexter Williams was headed back to Green Bay on Monday after he returned to his home in Orlando, Florida, to witness the birth of his child.
The Packers have two spots remaining on the practice squad and one open spot on their 53-man roster.
Harris was in camp as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots, who reportedly gave the former Arkansas linebacker a $140,000 guarantee with a $15,000 signing bonus. Harris is 6-feet, 234 pounds and played middle linebacker in college. He had 101 tackles in 2019 and 118 in 2018.
Foster is in this third NFL season out of Alabama and could provide a deep threat to the receiving corps. Undrafted in 2018, Foster appeared in 26 games (five starts) for the Buffalo Bills the last two years. He caught 30 passes for 605 yards with an explosive 20.2 yards per catch average. He also scored three touchdowns.
Foster ran a reported 4.34-second 40-yard dash at Alabama’s spring testing in 2016 but has consistently posted a 4.4 time, including a 4.41 at the 2018 NFL scouting combine.
New road rules
The Packers will play games in unfamiliar settings this season, starting Sunday in Minnesota without fans in the stands inside U.S. Bank Stadium, but the different experience of a football season during a pandemic will extend beyond the field.
Coach Matt LaFleur said protocols against COVID-19 will force the Packers to significantly alter their travel plans this fall. Restrictions include players, coaches and staff being forbidden from leaving the hotel on the road, or from hosting guests at their hotel.
“It’s going to be a lot different for our players,” LaFleur said. “We’re going to arrive a little bit later because typically you’d like to give them time before our night meetings to go out and get food or have dinner or go see somebody, but that’s not going to be the case this year. So we’re going to leave a little bit later and adjust that way because we are going to be cooped up in the hotel the entire time.”
With so much time spent isolated indoors, LaFleur said proper precautions against spreading the coronavirus will be paramount. Within those confines, he said there’s been discussions on how to best use the extra time in hotels on the road.
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“You’ve still got to keep your distance from one another,” LaFleur said. “We’re going to be inside, so we’ve got to be wearing our masks. We’ve got to be mindful of just the whole contract tracing and how that has a major impact on our football team, but at the same time we’re going to try to create some opportunities for those team bonding moments, whether it’s allowing the guys to get together and maybe play cards or whatever it may be.
“I know we’ve had a lot of people brainstorming on exactly what it is that we can do with these guys to allow that kind of fellowship to take place.”
Tackle situation remains in flux
LaFleur did not address his right tackle situation after Monday’s practice in which Rick Wagner continued to participate with a brace on his left elbow and Billy Turner (right knee) worked off on the side.
The head coach instead said that could be a game-time decision.
“I think you’ll have to wait to see on Sunday,” he said.
Of the nine offensive linemen Gutekunst kept on the initial 53-man roster, Wagner and Turner worked exclusively on the right side throughout camp. Other than All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, the only other edge offensive lineman is Yosh Nijman.
Nijman is a 6-7, 314-pound undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech who spent the bulk of 2019 on the practice squad before a late-season call up to the active roster. But, he injured his left elbow and then spent the rest of the season on injured reserve. He just returned off the physically unable to perform list Aug. 28.
He is ostensibly the backup left tackle.
“If they call me up, then I will be ready,” Nijman said. “But all that is up to coach LaFleur and the coaches to make that decision.”