Packers designate former first-round defender for return

packers designate former first-round defender for return

Eric Stokes

Injuries have now sidetracked two Eric Stokes seasons. After a Lisfranc injury sidelined Stokes midway through last season, and after he rehabbed this year, multiple hamstring ailments led him to the reserve/PUP list. Stokes returned for one game but exited with more hamstring trouble.

The former first-round pick logged just four special teams snaps against the Broncos in Week 7, leaving with his latest hamstring malady. The Packers still have the former starter in their plans, however. The team designated Stokes for return from IR on Monday, starting his activation clock.

Stokes could soon be the rare player to come off the reserve/PUP list and IR in the same season. The Packers also designated Darnell Savage for return last week. Green Bay has not used an IR activation this season, putting the 5-6 team in good shape as it guns for a wild-card spot.

The Packers’ cornerback equation has also changed since Stokes was activated from the PUP list. Sitting 2-5 at the trade deadline, the Pack dealt starter Rasul Douglas to the Bills in a pick-swap transaction that brought back a 2024 third-round pick. Douglas was in place as a starter in front of Stokes, who had been a boundary starter in 2021 and ’22. The Packers had slid Douglas to the slot in 2022, attempting to accommodate Stokes and Jaire Alexander, but moved him back to his best position this season. With Douglas out of the picture, Green Bay has seen its cornerback equation change since the deadline.

Alexander has missed the past three games with a shoulder injury, moving Corey Ballentine into the starting lineup. In the only post-Douglas game with Alexander healthy, the Packers had he, Carrington Valentine and Keisean Nixon in place at corner. Pro Football Focus ranks Valentine, a seventh-round rookie, 65th overall among corners. The Packers have withstood Douglas’ departure, however, and are 2-1 without Alexander. Their CB group could again have some depth soon, with Stokes likely to give it another go.

Chosen 29th overall in 2021, Stokes impressed as a rookie but did not fare as well last season. The Georgia product allowed a completion percentage of 80% when in coverage, leading to an opposing passer rating of 123.5. Stokes needed foot and knee surgeries this offseason. While his career has not gone as the Packers envisioned, the 6-foot defender should soon have another chance to contribute.

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