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Versatile Tyler Ervin gives the Packers an additional wide receiver

GREEN BAY - There was a bit of an active-roster surprise Sunday when wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown was inactive, leaving the Green Bay Packers with four active wideouts for the season opener at Minnesota.

But that was on paper only, as running back Tyler Ervin lined up as a receiver for most of his snaps, and the fifth-year speedster out of San Diego State spent much of training camp working with the receivers in individual drills.

“I was just trying to fulfill a need and do whatever the coaches asked me to do,” Ervin said of the dual role he has taken on. “I don’t know if it was an exact time or when we first started talking about it. The transition is just going out there and playing ball, whether it’s receiver or running back. For me, I’m kind of thinking they’re two of the same as long as you’re confident and willing to learn.”

Green Bay Packers running back Tyler Ervin (32) is shown Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, during practice in Green Bay, Wis.

Coming out of camp, the Packers kept just five wideouts on their initial 53-person roster, and Ervin could see his role increase as a pass catcher this weekend as St. Brown did not practice Thursday because of a knee injury.

Deguara misses practice

The Packers added an ankle to the injury designation tight end/fullback Josiah Deguara carried into the week and held him out of practice.

Deguara was listed as having a shin injury, but the ankle is either something that popped up in practice Wednesday or is part of the injury he suffered Sunday against Minnesota. He was at practice and appeared to be getting taped up while the players stretched, but he never showed up during the segment the media could watch and was listed as a non-participant on the injury report.

LaFleur also gave Marcedes Lewis a veteran rest day, so Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger and practice squad H-back Jon Lovett handled all the tight end duties.

Nose tackle Kenny Clark (groin) was at practice and doing some rehab work on the side. But he didn’t appear to be doing anything strenuous and was listed as a non-participant.

On the positive side of the ledger, right tackle Billy Turner (knee), guard Lucas Patrick (shoulder) and left guard Elgton Jenkins (ankle) returned to practice fully. Safety Raven Greene (quadriceps) and defensive tackle Adams (toe) were once again limited in their activity.

Lancaster poised for a bigger role

Clark didn’t practice for the second straight day and fellow defensive tackle Montravius Adams remained limited with a toe injury. That may mean Tyler Lancaster is up for an increased workload against the Lions.

Lancaster played 23 snaps against the Vikings (44%). According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Lancaster hasn’t played 30 or more since Week 7 of last year against Oakland (33). The most he played over a stretch of games was at the end of his rookie year in 2018 when he logged 51 against Chicago, 47 against the New York Jets and 38 against the Detroit Lions.

“I mean, our guys, you know, whether we have ’em or not, it’s next man in,” Packers defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery said. “And so, whoever’s next has got to play. So I try to develop each guy the same. They all have different traits. They’re all good at certain things and that’s why they’re here. So like I said, I expect all these guys that play to give us their best effort and play ball and our ultimate goal is to stop the run. And so, that’s what we have to do.”

Sound check

To attend one of the Packers' scrimmages inside Lambeau Field during camp, and the team’s opener Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings, would be to confuse the true noise volume of 70 decibels. 

That’s the volume teams are allowed to pipe in ambient noise during games. The Packers tinkered with the 70 decibels during camp, trying to prepare for their opener. When they arrived at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, they found the 70 decibels inside Lambeau Field sounded very different than the 70 decibels indoors.

 The Packers found the same noise volume can sound much different depending on the venue. Surprisingly, perhaps, 70 decibels was much louder at Lambeau Field. LaFleur plans to practice inside Lambeau Field on Friday for one final sound check before Sunday. 

“Talking to our people,” LaFleur said, “I think a lot of it’s just however it echoes maybe off the building. But I’m really not smart enough to understand decibel levels and things of that nature. I just go out there and coach. I just want to make sure our guys can operate in whatever environment we’re about to encounter.” 

Lazard sneaky fast

When he was entering the NFL draft in 2018, Allen Lazard ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash that left something to be desired. 

But LaFleur noticed during Lazard’s first camp with the Packers last year the 6-5, 227-pound receiver often was the first player down field on kickoff coverage. Lazard played fast, even if the stopwatch suggested he wasn’t. 

So it might seem strange to see the Packers design plays with Lazard’s ball carrying in mind – LaFleur called Lazard the Packers’ “enforcer” as a run blocker – but that’s what they did Sunday at Minnesota. The Packers gave Lazard a carry on a jet motion, the same type of play used for return specialist Tyler Ervin, who ran a 4.3 before the 2016 draft. 

Lazard got 19 yards on the carry. 

“I think he’s got plenty of speed,” LaFleur said. “He’s one of our fastest guys every time when we kick the ball off. He’s one of the first guys down, if not the first guy down on kickoff every time. He might be more of a build-up type speed player, but I think he’s got plenty of speed to play at a high level in this league.”