The Green Bay Packers are signing versatile defensive back Innis Gaines to their active roster ahead of Week 10’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, giving them some additional help with key members of their secondary injured.
According to the November 11 release of NFL roster moves, the Packers signed Gaines from their practice squad to the 53-man roster on Saturday. The 25-year-old safety and slot cornerback will fill the roster spot created when the Packers traded Rasul Douglas.
The Packers burned through all three of their elevation opportunities with Gaines over the season’s first nine weeks, which made signing him to an active-roster contract the only option they had if they wanted him to play again in 2023. Whether he plays a role for them on defense remains unclear, though, as he played just six total defensive snaps over his previous three games this season.
The Packers could certainly use more depth for their secondary based on their Week 10 injury report. All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander is “doubtful” to play after injuring his shoulder in Week 9’s win over the Los Angeles Rams. It is also uncertain whether they will have available starting safety Rudy Ford, who is questionable with a calf injury for a second straight week and did not play in Week 9 with the same status.
Innis Gaines Adds Depth With Packers All-Pro ‘Doubtful’
Gaines is a nice depth piece for the Packers to have available against the Steelers. He can play at safety and he can play in the slot, making him a valuable insurance piece as they continue to monitor the situations with Alexander and Ford. He is also in his third year with the Packers and should know Joe Barry’s defensive scheme well at this point.
Still, the Packers are going to be gambling big with their secondary in Week 10.
If Alexander does not play, the Packers will be down to Keisean Nixon, Corey Ballentine and seventh-round rookie Carrington Valentine as their top three available cornerbacks against the Steelers. Valentine impressed in the win over the Rams, but the entire unit is far less trustworthy when Alexander is not in the lineup. They also still have first-round pick Eric Stokes on injured reserve.
The Packers are also facing depth issues at safety. Jonathan Owens has played well in relief of free safety Darnell Savage Jr., who is stuck on injured reserve with Stokes, but the Packers could have to throw another seventh-round rookie — Anthony Johnson Jr. — into the fire if Ford is not cleared in time to play against the Steelers. Maybe they can pull things off with two rookies and a collection of backups, but it is a tough bet.
Packers’ Offensive Line Also Banged up for Week 10
The Packers have to worry about more than just injuries to their secondary heading into Week 10’s matchup after putting injury designations on seven total players.
Aside from Alexander, the Packers have another defensive starter — middle linebacker Quay Walker — listed as “doubtful” to play with a groin injury that sidelined him against the Rams in Week 9 and for the entire week of practice. Fortunately, the injury report no longer includes veteran linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.
The Packers also have three starting offensive linemen battling injuries. Left tackle Yosh Nijman (back) and right guard Jon Runyan Jr. (neck) both did not participate in the team’s first practice of the week but returned for the final two sessions in limited capacities. Meanwhile, the Packers added Josh Myers (knee) to the injury report during their second day of practice and limited him for the remainder of the week.
All three are questionable to play along with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kenny Clark.