Packers Hopeful Quay Walker Will Be Ready for Bears – Sports Illustrated

  • September 13, 2022

GREEN BAY, Wis. – With Quay Walker and Krys Barnes injured at Minnesota, Isaiah McDuffie could go from No. 4 inside linebacker to starter on Sunday night against the Chicago Bears.
Walker, the first of the team’s first-round picks, started and played 38 impactful snaps before suffering a shoulder injury. Off the bench came Krys Barnes, a starter the previous two seasons. He played nine snaps before being carted off with an ankle injury.
Speaking on Monday, one day after a 23-7 loss to the Vikings in the season opener, coach Matt LaFleur said: “We’ll give Quay the week but we’re hopeful that he’ll be back, ready to roll.”
Meanwhile, the top backup, Barnes, will be out several weeks with a high-ankle sprain and calf injury, according to NFL Network. He could wind up on short-term injured reserve.
“I think we avoided a significant injury, so that was some good news today,” LaFleur said.
McDuffie, a sixth-round pick last year, played the first six defensive snaps of his career to close out the game. After recording a team-high 16 tackles in the preseason, he had one tackle vs. the Vikings.
“Being a rookie is definitely different from being a second-year player,” McDuffie said during training camp. “You just know what to expect. As a rookie, I had no clue what the NFL was going to be like. Year 2, you’ve been here, you’ve done it before. You’re just coming back and doing it again.”
Walker became Green Bay’s first top draft pick since Nick Perry in 2012 to start Week 1 of his rookie season. Walker led the team with seven tackles at halftime and finished the day with eight. He led the team with five stops – a Pro Football Focus metric that mirrors Green Bay’s win/loss grading system – but allowed 5-of-5 passing and missed a tackle on a catch by Justin Jefferson.
“I thought there was a lot of good things,” LaFleur said. “I think the first series was a little shaky for him. That tends to be the case, and there’s going to be some growing pains with all young players in this league. It’s just the way it is. There’s a lot of different things that they haven’t seen before, and to get in your first regular-season game, there’s going to be mistakes. I loved how he was flying around. I thought he was physical, and he’s got a bright future. He’s just got to keep continuing to learn, and there’s no better learning tool than getting those game reps.
On Thursday, defensive coordinator Joe Barry called Walker a “special kid, special player.” Walker was flattered but knew he had to prove it.
“I wouldn’t consider myself being good,” he said on Friday. “I haven’t played a game yet. The main thing with me is I want to be neutral at all times and don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’m still a rookie. It’s a long, long season. I’m just trying to get better each and every day and continue to work. To what you said, I just think that everything that I did in college has translated over to me being in the NFL. A lot of things that we do now are kind of similar, so it was pretty easy for me to pick up on the transition.”
LaFleur didn’t have any updates on cornerback Keisean Nixon, who suffered a shoulder injury on a third-down tackle, or guard Jon Runyan, who missed most of the second half with a concussion.
There were two bits of noteworthy injury news around the NFL.
– Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin, who caught 98 passes for 1,103 yards last season before a torn ACL, suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday night against Dallas. “Hopefully, we’ll have him back sooner rather than later,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. The Packers visit Tampa Bay in Week 3.
– Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a fractured thumb that required surgery. He’ll miss about half the season and potentially could return for the Week 10 game at Green Bay, according to NFL Network.

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