Packers' Billy Turner makes it clear he didn't like sitting out against Lions
GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers right tackle Billy Turner returned to action last week against New Orleans after missing two games with a right knee injury.
In his mind, however, it should have only been one game.
The medical staff allowed Turner to practice all week in preparation for the Detroit Lions game in Week 2, but when game time rolled around, Turner was on the bench. He was only available for emergency use behind starter Rick Wagner.
Turner wanted to play.
“Well, without discussing my injury because that is not something that I talk about, you’ve got to ask the coaching staff and the medical staff about that – that was not my decision,” Turner said. “But, here we are going into Week 4 and I’m up and playing and I’m healthy and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Asked as a follow-up if he was upset about not playing or serving as an emergency tackle before being completely ready, Turner made it clear.
“No, it’s never, ever going to be my decision to not be on the football field,” he said.
Turner admitted there’s a fine line each player walks when it comes to being ready to return to action after an injury. But he has played through injury before, including a high-ankle sprain suffered in the regular-season finale last year, and didn’t like having to sit.
As it turned out, Wagner played exceptionally well in Turner’s place, the Packers won and Turner got one more week to heal.
“I’m a competitor,” he said. “I mean, there’s a lot of injuries that I’ve played through that I’m not supposed to be able to play through at all. And, with that being said, we’ve got a great medical staff here in Green Bay, some of the best doctors in the country, in the world at that.
“So, it is a tough line to walk, especially for someone like me, when you know that you’re capable of playing but it’s their job to essentially protect you from yourself at times.”
It would not have been surprising if the coaches had asked Turner to move back to right guard, where he played 18 games last season, after Wagner showed he was capable of holding his own at right tackle.
Turner has bounced around the offensive line during his career and was ready to play wherever the coaches wanted. It turned out they value him as a right tackle and wanted him there to help slow down New Orleans’ outstanding defensive end, Cameron Jordan.
“It’s rare that you just call offensive linemen a tackle or a guard,” Turner said. “There’s always that OG/OT/C next to everyone’s name when you’re looking at a roster, you know? So, it’s just being an offensive lineman in the NFL.”
Inside linebacker Christian Kirksey (shoulder), rookie tight end Josiah Deguara (ankle) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee) did not practice Thursday. Kirksey might have long odds to play this week after leaving Sunday night's game in New Orleans with his injury. Deguara has not played since the opener because of injuries. It's unclear how significant Lewis' knee injury is, but the Packers have held the veteran tight end out for rest and precautionary reasons in this early season.
Defensive lineman Kenny Clark (groin), along with outside linebackers Za'Darius Smith (ankle), Rashan Gary (ankle) and Randy Ramsey (groin), were limited in practice.
"Knowing that we have a bye (after Monday's game against the Falcons) is comforting," coach Matt LaFleur said, "because we are a little bit banged up right now."
The Falcons are similarly banged up, especially defensively.
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (hip), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (ankle), safety Ricardo Allen (elbow), defensive end Takk McKinley (groin) and safety Keanu Neal (hamstring) did not practice Thursday. Receiver Calvin Ridley (ankle) was also held out of practice. Fellow receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) was limited in practice.
Extra time off
The Packers get a full additional day to prepare for this week's game, which is a Monday night kickoff against the Falcons, but their trip to New Orleans last Sunday night cut into some of their extra time.
Ideally, LaFleur said, the Packers could have hosted an opponent for a noon kickoff at home entering their Monday night game. That would have provided an extra half day, as players would be finished with their work by Sunday evening.
In this schedule, the Packers didn't return from New Orleans until the wee hours Monday morning. So LaFleur compensated on the schedule, giving the Packers an additional off day Wednesday.
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"Where we were physically with what time we got back from that Sunday night game," LaFleur said, "all we did was we adjusted the schedule. We gave the guys basically another day of recovery, whether it was getting in the training room, doing whatever they need to do. Because I know that it doesn't matter what we call as coaches in any phase, offense, defense or special teams, if our guys aren't physically prepared to go, then it's a wash.
"So we gave them that extra day, and I think our guys took advantage of that."
Packers add receivers to practice squad
The Packers added another former Seattle Seahawks player to their roster Wednesday, signing second-year wide receiver Caleb Scott to the practice squad. They also added wideout Juwann Winfree on Thursday to bolster the practice squad.
Scott went undrafted out of Vanderbilt in 2018, He spent that season on the Seahawks' practice squad. Scott was released before training camp in 2019 and has not played in the NFL since. He caught 67 passes for 1,011 yards in 44 career games in college.
At his pro day in 2018, Scott ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at 6 feet, 1 inch and 203 pounds. He also had a 37-inch vertical leap.
Winfree was drafted in 2019 by the Denver Broncos in the sixth round out of Colorado and played three games last year before his season was ended due to injury in mid-December. In college, he caught 115 passes for 1,643 yards and 13 scores.