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Packers lose rookie tight end Josiah Deguara to season-ending torn ACL

Jim Owczarski
Packers News

GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers were without several starters on both sides of the ball heading into Monday night’s 30-16 win over Atlanta, and they finished without a few more.

Nickel corner Chandon Sullivan was lost early due to a concussion, and rookie tight end Josiah Deguara was carted off the Packers’ sideline late with a left knee injury. Deguara, who was hurt playing special teams, had missed the last two games with an ankle injury after starting Week 1 in Minnesota.

Deguara suffered a torn ACL that will sideline him for the rest of the season, a source said, confirming an ESPN report.

"Unfortunately, it looks to be a pretty bad one,” coach Matt LaFleur said Tuesday. “So, you know, I hurt for Josiah. I love what he’s all about, the mentality he brings and he’s certainly somebody we were really excited about. And it’s been a little bit of a roller coaster because in terms of I thought he had a great game vs. Minnesota in Week 1, and then he goes out with an ankle injury, you know; it’s just been, it’s been tough. But we expect him to bounce back from it and we still think he has a really bright future in this league.”

Green Bay Packers tight end Josiah Deguara (81) is carted off the field in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, October 5, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Starting cornerback Kevin King did not play the second half due to an injury to his quadriceps.

Rookie inside linebacker Krys Barnes was given play-calling duties by defensive coordinator Mike Pettine during the week, but he did not finish the game with a shoulder injury. Safety-linebacker Will Redmond also left the game early with an injury.

On a positive note, Sullivan tweeted “I’m good” and said he’ll see everyone in Tampa Bay on Oct. 18 and a source said Barnes suffered a “stinger.” The indications for both are they’ll be ready to play the Buccaneers.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was slow to get up after a sack by Atlanta’s Charles Harris. Rodgers spun into him as he tried to extend a play in the fourth quarter. Rodgers stayed in to throw a short pass to Jamaal Williams, then took a knee briefly on the sideline as Mason Crosby made a 48-yard field goal.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Rodgers said. “I was, like I said after the game, all in all probably more embarrassed than injured. You know, if we had to play this week, Thursday, I’d play. Sunday, I’d play. So, I’m fine. Tuesday, I’d play.”

Starting corner Jaire Alexander appeared late on the injury report last week with a knee issue that caused him to miss Saturday’s practice. But he played all 70 defensive snaps against the Falcons.

Also Tuesday, the Packers released wide receiver Reggie Begelton (who likely will rejoin the practice squad), released linebacker Curtis Bolton from reserve/physically unable to perform and released receiver Caleb Scott from the practice squad.

Barnes gets the ‘dot’

Undrafted rookie inside linebacker Krys Barnes has had a heck of a first month of the regular season. He was signed to the 53-man active roster the day of the practice before the season opener in Minnesota, and then started against the Vikings. Three weeks later, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine entrusted Barnes with the “green dot,” meaning he was calling the plays when he was on the field against the Falcons.

Ty Summers had that duty in New Orleans after starter Christian Kirksey injured a pectoral muscle.

“I feel like it’s trust, man,” outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith said of Barnes being given that duty. “When one guy goes down, we’ve got to depend on the next guy to come in and set the tone for us in the middle because he’s the one with the mic and he’s the one that’s making the call. I feel like he did a good job. There were one or two situations where we possibly got a call in late but, man, for him, man, undrafted, to come in and do what he did, he’s going to be good for us, I can tell you that much.”

Before exiting with a shoulder injury, Barnes made six tackles on 38 snaps.

Ball control

At the quarter mark of the season, the Packers do not lead the NFL in turnover differential – they are at plus-3, tied for sixth with Baltimore.

But, they are the only team in the league to have not given the ball away. The Tennessee Titans have one turnover in their three games.

“That's a big reason why we're sitting where we are right now,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “We've got to continue to do that because I think a lot of teams, especially in this league, you see a lot of defenses that put a lot of emphasis on attacking the football. We're going to play some really good defenses moving forward, so we've got to continue to be mindful of that and understand that each week has its own challenges and we've just got to be great in that regard."

Rodgers typically doesn’t put the ball in harm’s way as it is, as the 37-year-old hasn’t thrown double-digit interceptions since 2010 and has thrown five or fewer three times since then. He has led the league in interception percentage five times and has held that title in each of the last two seasons at less than 1%.

“The beauty in that is there really haven’t been opportunities (to turn it over),” Rodgers said. “We haven’t really had a ball on the ground, we really haven’t had defenders getting touches on the ball much at other, whether that flutter I had on the third-down play there at the two-minute warning, there haven’t been a lot of turnover-type plays.”

Olivia Reiner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report