GREEN BAY – It was a mixed bag of injury news for the Packers on Monday.
On the good side, Head Coach Matt LaFleur said the knee injury that forced running back Aaron Jones to exit Sunday’s game late in the third quarter is not a long-term concern.
“We’ll just monitor it on a daily basis and see how fast he can heal up,” LaFleur said of Jones, without giving any kind of timeline. “Because he’s certainly a guy you want out on the field.”
Jones has worked through similar knee sprains in the past and missed just a couple of weeks.
Not so good was the prospect that veteran outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus might be out for the season due to a biceps injury. LaFleur didn’t say so specifically, but the tone and content of his comments suggested as much.
Mercilus had one sack in the 17-0 shutout of Seattle and was on the verge of another on the play he went down.
“Yeah, that’s a tough one,” LaFleur said of Mercilus, who signed with the Packers just a few weeks ago after being released following more than a decade in Houston. “Man, I feel bad for him.
“Just the stability he brings to that room, and this guy’s a pro’s pro. It’s just one of those unfortunate things that happens.”
Also at outside linebacker, Rashan Gary left Sunday’s game with an elbow injury that didn’t look good on TV replays. LaFleur did not provide an update on Gary, as he’s still being evaluated. Gary recorded a sack against Seattle before getting hurt and leads the team with 5½ on the year.
Depending on the length of a potential Gary absence combined with Mercilus’ injury, the Packers could be thin at edge rusher in the near term. Preston Smith and Jonathan Garvin are the top two healthy ones right now, with Oren Burks another possibility and Tipa Galeai currently on the practice squad.
LaFleur indicated General Manager Brian Gutekunst and his personnel staff will be exploring options to fortify the position as well.
There also remains hope Za’Darius Smith can return at some point from the back injury that has sidelined him since Week 1, but LaFleur said the situation is “wait and see” with no guarantees.
At running back, second-year pro AJ Dillon will step into the featured role for however long Jones is out, with Patrick Taylor backing him up. Dillon has more than 600 yards from scrimmage this season (421 rushing, 196 receiving), while Taylor got his first NFL action late in Sunday’s game with two carries for 7 yards.