GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Packers already know they lost one starter for the rest of the season and are worried about the possibility of losing another.
The most severe was to outside linebacker Rashan Gary, who suffered a torn ACL in his right knee. Coach Matt LaFleur confirmed on Monday that Gary’s season is over.
LaFleur also said there’s concern that cornerback Eric Stokes‘ injuries were severe enough to be season-ending. Stokes had a boot on his right foot and was on crutches after he suffered ankle and knee injuries.
Gary has been the Packers’ most effective pass-rusher and perhaps their best defensive player this season with six sacks and 31 pressures. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he ranked third in the NFL in pressures through Sunday’s games.
“It’s a tremendous loss — not only just from obviously a production standpoint, just, man, he is a guy that just competes at the highest level,” LaFleur said. “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 because it’s hard to replace a guy like that.”
Gary, a first-round draft pick in 2019, was a prime candidate for a contract extension. The Packers exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, and that is guaranteed for $10.89 million. Now, it’s unclear whether he even will be ready for the start of next season.
Receiver Romeo Doubs and running back Aaron Jones both suffered ankle injuries against the Lions. LaFleur would not rule out the possibility that Jones could play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Doubs’ injury, while not season-ending, could keep him out for multiple weeks.
Two other players, receiver Christian Watson and linebacker Krys Barnes, were taken off the field to be evaluated for concussions and did not finish the game. Barnes was placed in the concussion protocol, but LaFleur said Monday that Watson did not suffer a concussion even though he was held out for the remainder of the game.
“That was all precautionary, and I think that’s just kind of the times that we live in right now and with what transpired vs. Buffalo,” LaFleur said. “But it was 100% ruled that it was not a concussion. Matter of fact, he was dying to go back in the game, and we thought it was best to shut him down because of what transpired in Buffalo.”
While all that was going on, left tackle David Bakhtiari‘s recurring knee issues kept him out for most of the second half; he returned for the Packers’ final series. Right guard Jon Runyan (knee) and tight end Robert Tonyan (cramps) also came out of the game briefly but returned.
The Packers (3-6) have lost five straight games and host the Cowboys (6-2) on Sunday.