Jaire Alexander, David Bakhtiari limited practice participants Wednesday; Packers sign corner to practice squad
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers placed nine players on their first injury report of the week, while their Sunday opponent, the New England Patriots, placed 10 on their Wednesday report.
The Packers shifted their practice schedule for the week, practicing without pads and taking a lighter day Wednesday. The decision came, according to coach Matt LaFleur, after a litany of soft-tissue injuries in recent weeks. He took the blame Monday for Sammy Watkins' hamstring injury, saying the load of practicing hard on Wednesday led to too many soft-tissue problems.
"Our player loads are quite high for where we are right now and just thought it'd be best to use today as more a jog-through," LaFleur said.
LaFleur originally had said left tackle David Bakhtiari would not practice Wednesday, as part of his load management, but some things were shifted around and he did go with the team through practice.
Cornerback Jaire Alexander (groin) was a limited participant Wednesday, as was Bakhtiari (knee). Both were seen participating during the stretch portion of practice, which was the only portion open to media. Offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins (knee) was seen working on the bike, but this was part of the expected routine for Jenkins.
Alexander left Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after pulling his groin on the first drive. He had previously injured his groin during his rookie year, missing three games, so precaution was taken and Alexander did not return to the game.
Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers was Bakhtiari’s first significant action since tearing his ACL on Dec. 31, 2020. The All-Pro left tackle played 27 snaps last season against the Detroit Lions, but suffered a set-back and underwent another surgery following the season. Against Tampa Bay, Bakhtiari was able to play 56% of the offensive snaps, while rotating at tackle with Yosh Nijman.
Alexander and Bakhtiari were expected additions to the injury report, but an unexpected entry was running back AJ Dillon. He was a limited participant and was listed as dealing with a knee. Linebacker Jonathan Garvin (hip), receiver Allen Lazard (ankle), tight end Marcedes Lewis (groin) and receiver Christian Watson (hamstring) were all limited participants as well.
Jenkins and lineman Caleb Jones (illness) were the only two who did not participate.
Packers add Corey Ballentine to practice squad
The Packers signed Corey Ballentine to the practice squad Wednesday. Ballentine is a fourth-year cornerback who was drafted in the sixth round in 2019 by the New York Giants. He has spent time with the Giants, Lions and New York Jets, while making four starts in his career. He's accumulated 35 tackles, two passes defended, a quarterback hit and 11 special teams tackles.
Ballentine also has returned 35 kickoffs in his career, for 855 yards (24.4-yard average), with a long of 66 yards.
The Packers placed wide receiver Sammy Watkins on injured reserve last week, where he must remain for four weeks while recovering from a hamstring pull. They then signed running back Patrick Taylor off their practice squad to the active roster last Saturday, leaving an open spot to be filled, now by Ballentine.
Mac Jones doesn't practice in New England
In New England, the Patriots did not practice quarterback Mac Jones (ankle) or defensive lineman Lawrence Guy (shoulder). It is expected that backup Brian Hoyer will play in place of Jones against the Packers. Jones, a second-year player, suffered a severe high ankle sprain Sunday in the Patriots' loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Patriots saw limited participation from wide receiver Jakobi Myers (knee), corner Jalen Mills (hamstring), safety Adrian Phillips (ribs), linebacker Raekwon McMillian (thumb), defensive lineman Davon Godchaux (back), safety Kyle Dugger (knee), offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste (thumb) and safety Joshuah Bledsoe (groin).