Packers dealing with injuries up front on both sides of the ball

Jim Owczarski
Packers News
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GREEN BAY - The health of the offensive line will be in the spotlight as the practice week wears on for the Green Bay Packers in advance of their home opener against Detroit, as left guard Elgton Jenkins was listed on the team’s injury report Wednesday with an ankle issue. He practiced on a limited level.

The team did get some good news in that guard Lucas Patrick, who did not finish the game against Minnesota with a shoulder injury, practiced on a limited basis.

Starting right tackle Billy Turner also participated on a limited basis, clearing a lane for his return to the offensive line Sunday against Detroit.

Last Thursday Turner practiced in pads for the first time since injuring his right knee in a scrimmage-like setting at the end of August, but by the end of the week he was back working on the side and missed the opener in Minnesota.

“Certainly he was making progress and it’s one of those deals where sometimes after you go out and practice, you might come back a little sore or swollen or whatever it may be, that was the case for him,” head coach Matt LaFleur said of Turner giving it a shot in practice last week. “We’re always going to give our guys the course of the week, especially the guys who have proven themselves time after time again that can battle through some things. We’re going to give them as much time as they need to get them back into the lineup to help us win.”

Free-agent acquisition Rick Wagner, who lost out on the right tackle competition to Turner in camp after working through his own injury (elbow), showed well Sunday in Minneapolis when he played the final 46 snaps at right tackle after Jenkins had to slide over to left guard to following an injury to Patrick.

There is a chance the Packers open with Turner at right guard, where he started all 16 games last season, and Wagner at right tackle. Between the time Wagner signed in March and Lane Taylor restructured his deal in late May, there was a thought Turner-Wagner could be the combination on that right side.

“I thought Rick did an outstanding job in the game,” LaFleur said. “And that gives us obviously a lot of confidence with him in the game. And we’ve said it all along – Rick’s a veteran player who’s put a lot on tape, a lot of good stuff on tape. And so it just gives us confidence that regardless of what route we decide to go that we have players that can step up and fill in when needed or start when needed.”

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kenny Clark, who injured his groin late in the first half Sunday and didn't return, did not practice Wednesday but was out in the Don Hutson Center working off to the side.

Clark told radio station WDUZ that his foot slid during Sunday's game, causing a groin muscle strain. Clark said the medical staff would reevaluate the injury Thursday and he had no timetable for a return to action.

Shown in an earlier photo, the Packers lost Kenny Clark to a back injury Sunday.

Outside linebacker Randy Ramsey (groin) also missed practice. Practicing on a limited basis were defensive lineman Montravius Adams (toe), tight end Josiah Deguara (shin), safety Raven Greene (quadriceps) and Equanimeous St. Brown (knee).

The Packers have yet to make an official roster move regarding Taylor, who is out for the year after suffering a knee injury in Minnesota. Last week the Packers carried 52 players on their active roster up until Saturday when they signed linebacker Krys Barnes.

Kirksey achieves personal first

Inside linebacker Christian Kirksey provided perhaps the oddest stat of the weekend after the Packers’ 43-34 season-opening victory in Minnesota: He had never experienced that before in six previous opening days.

“This is my first time ever in my career being 1-0 to start the season,” the 28-year-old said with a smile. “So I definitely had a kick out of that.”

The closest Kirksey came to a season-opening victory from 2014-19 in Cleveland was a 21-21 tie against Pittsburgh in 2017. The Browns were outscored 175-99 in his previous season openers.

Packers add to practice squad

The Packers moved on quickly from defensive tackle Daylon Mack, who was signed to the practice squad Sept. 10 and was released before practice Wednesday in favor of defensive lineman Billy Winn. Winn, 31, was originally a sixth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2012 out of Boise State. He played three years with the Browns (including one year under then-head coach Mike Pettine) before moving to Indianapolis in 2015. His bad luck with injuries began there, as he finished the year on injured reserve with a torn rotator cuff.

Winn (6-4, 305) last played in a regular-season game in 2016 for the Denver Broncos as injuries have kept him out of action since. He tore an ACL in 2017, did not play in 2018 and had a triceps injury in 2019.

The team also signed offensive tackle Ryan Pope (6-7, 320), who went undrafted in 2019 but spent that training camp in Detroit. He also was a member of the practice squads in Jacksonville and San Francisco last season. 

Butler, Woodson headline HOF nominees

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced 130 modern-era nominees for the 2021 class Wednesday, a list that includes nine former Green Bay Packers. Safety LeRoy Butler, a finalist last year, is again on the ballot as is defensive back Charles Woodson as one of 14 first-year nominees.

Woodson played seven of his 18 years in Green Bay and was a member of the 2010 Super Bowl champions. He had 38 interceptions and 11.5 sacks with the Packers.

The other former Packers include wide receiver Donald Driver (1999-2012), tight ends Keith Jackson (1995-96) and Wesley Walls (2003), safety Nick Collins (2005-11), cornerback Allen Rossum (2000-01), center Jeff Saturday (2012) and kicker Ryan Longwell (1997-2005).

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