Aaron Jones latest addition to Packers' injury list; David Bakhtiari, Kevin King doubtful
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers came out of the bye week largely healthy, with only kick returner and offensive specialist Tyler Ervin being ruled out and four players deemed questionable heading into last weekend’s game at Tampa Bay. Of that quartet, only cornerback Kevin King did not play.
But to add injury to the insult of a 38-10 loss to the Buccaneers, the Packers came home from Florida with 13 players on their first injury report Wednesday.
By Friday it had grown to 16 with running back Aaron Jones missing the last practice of the week due to a calf strain suffered Thursday.
“Just kind of felt my calf get tight during practice, really didn't pay it much attention and then after and throughout the later parts of the day is when I started to feel it,” Jones said. “And then came in (Friday) morning and we took a look at it. I feel like I'm confident I can play, but I know our trainers and doctors have the players' best interests in mind. I'm gonna do everything in my power to make sure I can get out on the field, but it's up to the team doctors.”
Center Corey Linsley (back) appeared on the injury report Thursday and defensive tackle Montravius Adams (foot) missed Friday’s practice along with Jones.
Ervin, left tackle David Bakhtiari (chest), safety Darnell Savage (quad) and defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster (shoulder) didn’t practice all week.
King went from limited participation to also not practicing Friday with his quadriceps injury. He is doubtful, along with Bakhtiari and Savage.
“Just because we’re missing whoever it may be, the standards and the expectations, they never change,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said. “Guys have got to be ready to go and fill that role. It’s great to see when guys do get opportunities when they come out and they play really well and do their job. It’s great. It gives everybody a lot of confidence.”
Josh Jackson got the start at Tampa Bay in lieu of King, and while Jackson made six tackles he was also flagged for a 40-yard pass interference penalty that set up a touchdown. He was also called for holding late in the game.
“I think Jacko's a good cover guy, but the thing is confidence with him, and he's got to keep having confidence because I thought (Scotty Miller) was one of the fastest guys on their team and he was running stride for stride,” Packers defensive backs coach Jerry Gray said. “It's not the speed. I think it has everything to do with the finish.”
Ervin has not practiced since injuring his wrist against Atlanta before the bye week. In his stead, the Packers used Jones in some of the same formations and motions against the Buccaneers, though the offense in general did not have success.
“It’s funny, when we first started doing that last year, Aaron Jones was the guy,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “He was the one we were doing the different sweeps with so he’s a guy that can go in there at any time. we can use multiple people to do it. So we just have to keep on doing what we do.”
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If Jones can’t go, that role may fall to wide receiver Malik Taylor. But as far as the run game is concerned, there is no hesitation with LaFleur regarding a backfield combination of Jamaal Williams and rookie AJ Dillon.
“We’ve got a ton of confidence in his ability to do whatever we’re asking the other two guys to do,” LaFleur said of Dillon. “Nothing’s changing in terms of the preparation, whether AJ’s in there, whether Jamaal’s in there, whether Aaron’s in there, it’s the same game plan for them.”
On special teams, Darrius Shepherd replaced Ervin. The second-year player had two fair catches on punts and the Packers didn’t bring out a kick return.
“Our game plan doesn’t change,” special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga said. “We always carry a certain set of rushes into the game and then have certain returns we’re going to try to run based on what we think we can get. It’s a matter of, we may change a return as far as the direction we call and those kind of things based on who’s back there, but it doesn’t change our aggressiveness or anything like that.”