GREEN BAY — Already missing their All-Pro and Pro Bowl shutdown cornerback Jaire Alexander, who is on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury, the Green Bay Packers could be without another of their starting cornerbacks, Kevin King, for next Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears because of a shoulder injury of his own.
King injured his shoulder during the Packers’ 25-22 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, and coach Matt LaFleur said Monday that King played through the injury for most of the day before a sideline collision knocked him out of the game in the fourth quarter.
“He’s doing all right. We’re still kind of evaluating (him),” LaFleur said Monday.
Asked if the team’s depth in the secondary is a concern, LaFleur replied, “Absolutely. Anytime you’re losing starters, that’s never fun. But it is the next man up, and we’re fortunate we’ve got other guys here we feel very, very confident in, and they’re going to have to prove us right.”
With Alexander out, rookie first-round draft pick Eric Stokes made his third consecutive start — after starting a pair of games while King was out because of lingering effects of a previously undiagnosed concussion he suffered Sept. 20 against Detroit — and played well.
But with Alexander out at least two more games, and possibly much longer as the team hopes he can avoid what would likely be season-ending surgery, losing King would thrust Isaac Yiadom and rookie fifth-round pick Shemar Jean-Charles into bigger roles.
King left the game during the Bengals’ game-tying fourth-quarter touchdown drive, and LaFleur called the hit “the final straw” for King’s shoulder. King has a history of shoulder injuries and was chosen in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft despite battling shoulder problems during his college career at Washington.
“I thought Kevin played a really good game. (And) he was playing a lot of that game or part of that game with basically one arm,” LaFleur said. “I thought he competed well and was playing really, really well.
“I was happy with how he was playing and it’s unfortunate that happened.”
Five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, on the physically unable to perform list while he comes back from reconstructive knee surgery after tearing the ACL in his left knee during a Dec. 31 practice last season, is eligible to start practicing following Sunday’s game at Chicago.
But it doesn’t sound like the Packers’ medical staff is quite ready to clear him. The Packers don’t have to activate him after the sixth game; that’s merely when they could open the practice window to get him back on the field.
“We’ve been having ongoing conversations, but I’m going to keep those to us right now,” LaFleur said when asked about the team’s plan for Bakhtiari. “I know David, he’s champing at the bit to get back out there, too, and he’s doing everything he can.“Certainly, it’s not one of those decisions that you take lightly. He’s coming off a pretty significant injury and you want to make sure, first and foremost, that he’s healthy and he’s not at a greater risk of reinjury. But also there’s a lot of just that confidence factor (of) being out there and being able to go out there and play fast, physical and free of any type of worry of injury or whatnot so you can go out there and play your best ball.”
Jenkins on mend
Bakhtiari’s replacement at left tackle, Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins, missed his third straight game Sunday with the ankle injury he suffered against Detroit. Jenkins practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday last week but LaFleur said Monday that he wasn’t necessarily expecting Jenkins to be cleared on game day.
Without Jenkins and starting center Josh Myers, the Packers started Yosh Nijman at left tackle, Jon Runyan at left guard, Lucas Patrick at center, Royce Newman at right guard and Billy Turner at right tackle. It was Green Bay’s fourth different starting line in five games so far this season.“We were going to give him up to game-time, but certainly we had the plan. If he was able to go, that was going to be a bonus,” LaFleur said. “Elgton’s doing everything in his power to be out there. I know this is eating at him, not being out there with the guys. And again, we’ll take him through the week this week and see where he’s at.”
Photos: Packers' 2021 season in pictures
Check out photo galleries from every game of 2021 from the preseason through the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
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