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Packers at Vikings Inactives: Gary Won’t Play

Packers outside linebacker Tipa Galeai, who is bigger and battle-tested after a year-and-a-half on the practice squad, figures to get plenty of action vs. the Vikings.
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MINNEAPOLIS – Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary is inactive for Sunday’s game at the Minnesota Vikings.

Gary suffered a hyperextended elbow in last week’s victory over Seattle and wore a protective brace at practice this week. Coach Matt LaFleur listed him as questionable on Friday but the team is taking a long-term view with its 8-2 record. How the Packers will adapt will be worth watching against a high-quality running back (Dalvin Cook has rushed for 648 yards with a 4.7-yard average) and a quarterback that’s hard to sack (with Kirk Cousins, the Vikings are second in sack rate at 3.5 percent).

Green Bay’s other inactives are receiver Allen Lazard (shoulder), receiver Malik Taylor (abdomen), running back Aaron Jones (knee), left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee), safety Vernon Scott and defensive tackle Jack Heflin.

With the possibility that Gary wouldn’t play, La’Darius Hamilton was elevated from the practice squad. In anticipation of Lazard being out, Juwann Winfree was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday. Without Jones, the Packers have only AJ Dillon and Patrick Taylor in the backfield.

While it’s not newsworthy that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will start, it was interesting that his workweek consisted of “about 15 reps” on Friday, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

The Packers have been slammed by injuries at outside linebacker, with Za’Darius Smith, Whitney Mercilus, Chauncy Rivers and Randy Ramsey on injured reserve and, now, with Gary inactive.

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Getting back the team’s All-Pro cornerback, All-Pro left tackle and Pro Bowl outside linebacker, to state the obvious, would be a huge lift to the 9-3 Packers.

The last men standing? Starter Preston Smith, 2020 seventh-round pick Jonathan Garvin, practice-squad addition Tipa Galeai and practice-squad elevation Hamilton. Smith and Garvin will start.

Galeai, who went undrafted in 2020, has played in only one NFL game. He played eight snaps at Minnesota in last year’s opener, then didn’t play again. He spent the first 10 games of this season on the practice squad.

“God works in mysterious ways,” Galeai said on Friday. “I reflected a lot off of that game. I had eight plays on defense, no special team reps, and now I’m going in with some defensive reps and some special teams reps. The whole year last year, I just put my head down and worked. I never looked back, learned a lot from those eight plays I had and also the very little experience I had last year, it meant a lot going into this offseason and coming into this season now to see how much I’ve improved.”

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 229 pounds, outside linebackers coach Mike Smith frequently has said he likes Galeai’s explosive skill-set but he needs to add weight. On Friday, Galeai said he was up to 240.

“I was a little, stubborn rookie thinking I don’t need to gain weight, I’m good where I’m at,” Galeai said. “But then as the year went forward, I noticed that, ‘Hey, I’ve got to put some meat on my bones, man.’ And I did. And I surely am looking forward to putting on more weight as it comes. Not trying to overwhelm myself with a lot of bad weight, but just slowly and surely I’m getting there.”

This was a different week for Galeai. For his first season-and-a-half with the Packers, he had toiled on the scout team. And he liked it. Not this week. He took one rep on the scout team before the coaches pulled him off so he could focus on the defensive game plan.

“I loved it. It’s fun. I get to go against starters, and I get to go against one of the most elite quarterbacks ever and I get to pick up stuff that puts you ahead of other quarterbacks that you’re going to be going against,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to explain, but I loved scout team. I learned a lot from that, get to fly around. But I learned my technique and learned what I needed to do, how to fix my eyes, what I should do, where I should be, certain leverages. After a year-and-a-half, now they called me up, so it’s cool. I most definitely will be looking out for some more scout team reps if they give me a chance.”