Packers lose Rashan Gary for rest of season with torn ACL; Eric Stokes' season in jeopardy

Ryan Wood
Green Bay Press-Gazette
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GREEN BAY − The arduous task of turning their sinking season around got no easier for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, and their fifth straight loss was just part of the reason.

The Packers will not have outside linebacker Rashan Gary for the final eight games because of a torn ACL, coach Matt LaFleur said Monday. Gary, seen on crutches after the game, was awaiting MRI results early Monday to confirm concerns he tore his ACL against the Detroit Lions.

Gary is their top pass rusher, blossoming into an NFL star in his fourth season. Though he hadn't sacked the quarterback in the past three games, Gary exploded for six sacks in the first six games of the season.

"It's a tremendous loss," LaFleur said. "Not only just from obviously the production standpoint, but, man, he is a guy who just competes at the highest level. He is one of the grittiest guys that's on this team, and just the effort that he brings on a daily basis is definitely going to be missed. The other guys around on that defense and on our team are going to have to pick it up for him, because it's hard to replace a guy like that.

"He battles. You guys all see it. He's an ultimate competitor."

Green Bay linebacker Rashan Gary is carted off the field Sunday after being injured during the second half of the Packers' game against the the Detroit Lions

LaFleur said he could not rule out any other players from the Packers' long injury list Sunday being shut down for the season. Most concerning, he said, was cornerback Eric Stokes' ankle and knee injuries. Stokes left Sunday's game in the first quarter. He was on crutches with a walking boot protecting his right foot after the game.

Rookie receiver Romeo Doubs will miss a few weeks with a high-ankle sprain after being tackled low and hard from behind by Lions safety Kerby Johnson on Sunday's first play. Doubs initially was hopping toward the sideline before training carried him the rest of the way to the medical tent. From there, Doubs was carted to the locker room with his right ankle propped. He was on crutches and had his right foot in a boot after the game.

Fellow rookie receiver Christian Watson got some good news. LaFleur said Watson cleared concussion protocol, avoiding his second concussion in as many weeks. He was held out of Sunday's game for precautionary reasons after having a concussion one week earlier against Buffalo, LaFleur said.

"That was not a concussion. That was all precautionary," LaFleur said. "I think that's just kind of the times we live in right now with what transpired against Buffalo, but it was 100% ruled that is was not a precautionary. As a matter of fact, he was dying to go back into the game, and we thought it was best to shut him down because of what transpired in Buffalo. But to his credit, he was adamant, and he cleared everything.

"I know he took a nice shot in the chest, and he lost his breath for a minute, and it's unfortunate."

The Packers have struggled with injuries throughout the season, none more than left tackle David Bakhtiari. The two-time All-Pro missed most of Sunday's second half with a recurring knee problem, though he returned for the game's final drive.

In the first quarter, the Packers called a throwback pass on the goal line to Bakhtiari, who was eligible as a receiver. Bakhtiari was open in the end zone, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers' pass across the field was underthrown and intercepted.

LaFleur said the play signified how comfortable the Packers are with the status of his knee.

"We wouldn't have put him in there if we didn't feel good about it and he didn't feel good about it," LaFleur said. "That's a play that we've had up for multiple weeks. It shows up. It looked like it had an opportunity. I think we've got to do a little bit better job up front making sure we don't have any pressure in the quarterback's face, and then we've got to put it out there a little further for him."

LaFleur said there is "potential" for running back Aaron Jones to play this week after leaving Sunday's game with a knee injury. Jones stayed on the sideline during the second half and did not return.

"He is another guy who just battles," LaFleur said. "You see it every day in practice, and he's been pretty banged up. But he was trying to get back out there, too. Just want to be safe with him."

The Packers will need plenty of battling to dig themselves out of their 3-6 hole. LaFleur said the injury situation doesn't make anything easier.

"It doesn't help things," LaFleur said of the team's injury situation. "So everybody has to be at their best in order to give us a chance to go out there and compete at the level we want and at a winning level on Sunday."

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