LaFleur: Injuries to Packers De'Vondre Campbell, Christian Watson don't appear long term

Kassidy Hill
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY − The Green Bay Packers are anticipating good news about De’Vondre Campbell this week. The veteran inside linebacker left Sunday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills with a knee injury. He was seen walking to the locker room in the second quarter with ice on his right knee. He did not return to the game, which the Packers lost 27-17

On Monday, coach Matt LaFleur updated reporters with Campbell’s current status. 

“I don’t think it’s long term,” coach Matt LaFleur said Monday. “But whether or not he’ll be available for this week, it’s kind of up in the air.”

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker De'Vondre Campbell.

Campbell’s injury followed fellow starting linebacker Quay Walker’s ejection. The rookie pushed a practice squad player on the Bills sideline after making a tackle out of bounds and was thrown out of the game. It left the Packers with Isaiah McDuffie and Eric Wilson playing inside linebacker for the second half. McDuffie took over the play calling, and LaFleur said there was only one play call that was an issue and it was because the call got in late. 

“I thought all in all he handled himself well,” LaFleur said of McDuffie. “He played with great effort. He always does. He always plays with great urgency, great effort. You can feel him, he's physical on the football field, not only on defense, but when on (special) teams as well.”

The defense could get some depth back at the position with Krys Barnes, a third-year inside linebacker on injured reserve with an ankle injury. LaFleur said Barnes could “potentially” be brought off IR, but the Packers would need to “see where he’s at.” 

“When the timing’s right," LaFleur said, "he’ll be ready to go.” 

More:The Packers defense did a lot of tough talking, but the offense actually played that way

On offense, the Packers lost a wide receiver on the first drive of the game when Christian Watson left with a concussion. The rookie was playing in his first game since Week 5 against the New York Giants. He’d missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury, his second of he season. 

On the Packers first possession, quarterback Aaron Rodgers targeted Watson on a third-and-15 crossing route. Watson used his speed to turn up field for a 12-yard gain, but as he was tackled his neck turned into the ground. As teammates knelt around him, trainers initially came out with a board to carry Watson off the field. After a minute though, Watson was able to stand and walk off, and was put into concussion protocol. 

“I know he was disappointed postgame when I talked to him in the locker room,” LaFleur said of Watson. “But overall I thought he seemed to be relatively in a good state of mind, if that makes sense.” 

Green Bay was without lineman Elgton Jenkins. The versatile player already was questionable (knee) before being stepped on in practice Thursday. 

“Just one of those deals where he got stepped on and we thought he was going to be alright,” LaFleur said. "I think he thought he was going to be alright and, you know, Sunday morning, didn’t feel great.

“Took him out in the pregame, worked him out. Just it was one of those deals where he was having pain in a certain area and just didn't feel like it was worth the risk.”

Injuries stress an already depleted wide receiver group

With Randall Cobb on injured reserve (ankle) and Allen Lazard inactive against the Bills with a shoulder injury, the Packers started the game with Sammy Watkins (two weeks removed from IR with a hamstring injury), rookies Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure, and rarely used Amari Rodgers at receiver.

After Watson left, the Packers had four receivers for the remainder of the game. 

More:If Packers are to save season after 4-game skid, it must start with Aaron Rodgers revival

“That’s football,” LaFleur said. “You gotta be able to adjust. It did kind of, it threw us off for a second, just the juggling act you’ve got to do. Going into the game, we were planning on Romeo ... him and Sammy were going to play the X and then when we went to 11 personnel, (Doubs) was gonna go in there at the F and then basically the other three guys we're gonna play a Z in our 12 and 21. 

“It definitely, it just kind of got us off a little bit. But, that is football and you’ve gotta be able to adjust.” 

Will Packers be buyers or sellers at Tuesday's trade deadline?

While Doubs and Toure both scored a touchdown as the offense found footing in the ground game, the lack of veteran depth, which has been a missing piece all season, was apparent against the Bills. It puts even more eyes on the upcoming trade deadline, which is 3 p.m. Tuesday, and whether the Packers will try to acquire an additional receiver. 

LaFleur told reporters Monday that he and general manager Brian Gutekunst always are in discussions about the roster possibilities. They won’t make a deal just for sake of making a deal, though, LaFleur said. 

“We've been having those conversations for weeks now," he said. "And it really comes down to opportunity. If the right opportunity presents itself, I know that Gutey’s all on board of trying to upgrade our roster. You're always trying to do that. But we're not going to just do a silly deal."

When asked if he thinks the Packers might be sellers instead of buyers, LaFleur said he “hopes not” but “you just never know.” 

The Packers, now 3-5, will return to practice Wednesday to start preparations for the Detroit Lions. Whether new faces will join them won’t be known until the end of Tuesday, but the list of injury-ridden players will play a factor. 

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