The Packers are still packing their NFL injury report with important players, but the team got some good news on one guy who could be critical in Week 2 –linebacker Quay Walker, who appears to be exiting the NFL’s concussion protocol as he went from not practicing on Wednesday to limited practice on Thursday.
Walker was huge in the Packers’ Week 1 victory over the Bears, even before he registered the fourth-quarter interception he returned for a 37-yard touchdown, which put Green Bay ahead, 38-14. (It was on that play, too, that Walker suffered his concussion.) According to Pro Football Focus, Walker graded out as the No. 3 linebacker in the league in Week 1, with a 92.1 overall grade.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur could not comment (under NFL rules) on Walker’s status other than to mention that Walker is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Falcons Lean on Underneath Passes
Walker was most effective in Week 1 in coverage, according to PFF, a big part of the reason Chicago quarterback Justin Fields had only 216 yards passing and an average of 5.8 yards per completion. That facet of his game figures to be equally important—if not, more so—in Week 2 as the Packers face the Falcons and second-year quarterback Demond Ridder.
Ridder played like a classic game-managing quarterback in that game, attempting only 18 passes and very efficiently completing 15 of them. But Ridder threw for just 115 yards on the day, and only three completions went to a wideout, with all three going to Mack Hollins. Tight end Kyle Pitts caught two passes, and nine went to running backs Tyler Allgeier and Bijan Robinson.
Walker, a very good athlete, can be especially effective when guarding receivers on underneath routes.
Aaron Jones in Line to Play Sunday
The rest of the Packers injury list remains more hopeful than certain.
The big question mark on the offensive side is running back Aaron Jones, who was explosive as ever in the first game. Jones finished with 127 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns against the Bears, all coming on just 11 touches. It was on his second touchdown, in the third quarter, that Jones clutched at his right hamstring, and injury he labeled a hamstring “bite” and not quite a pull.
The Packers were determined to give Jones extra rest this week. Though he did not technically practice, he did participate in some rehab work, with his helmet on.
“Anytime he’s out there and he’s got a helmet on, I think that’s a good sign,” LaFleur told the media after practice.
The Packers are also hopeful of finally getting receiver Christian Watson back from his hamstring injury, which kept him out for the Week 1 win. But Watson again did not practice on Thursday, dimming those hopes of seeing him against Atlanta.
Receiver Romeo Doubs, also dealing with a hamstring issue, was limited in practice for the second straight day, but he played through his injury on Sunday and is expected to do so again this week. The left side of the Packers’ offensive line, David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, also appeared on the injury list, though Bakhtiari is getting his expected in-week rest while Jenkins (knee) was limited but not expected to miss time.
Linebacker Rashan Gary, coming back from ACL surgery, was limited in practice this week, too.