GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers listed Jaire Alexander as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.
The availability of Alexander is a big deal. So is the status of left tackle David Bakhtiari. In a noteworthy development, he wasn’t even given an injury designation on the final injury report of the week. That means the team’s booked offensive tackles, Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, both of whom are coming off serious knee injuries, are good to go for Sunday. That could be big given their matchups this week.
Bakhtiari returned to practice on Friday after getting a rest day on Thursday. Later, he and Aaron Rodgers surprised a group of fans on a stadium tour. With Bakhtiari celebrating his 31st birthday, Rodgers led the tour group into a singing of “Happy Birthday.”
“It’s not totally up to him [when he practices] but certainly he’s got a big say so in it,” coach Matt LaFleur said before practice. “I trust Dave, we trust Dave, and we’re in constant communication in terms of what is the best plan for him to try and get him back to where he can go out there and play a full game. But it could definitely change. I told you guys the other day we’re pretty fluid around here, and I would say the same with that situation.”
While LaFleur would never admit it, perhaps the absence of Patriots quarterback Mac Jones – he’s out with an ankle injury – will open the door for a conservative approach with Alexander, their top cornerback.
Alexander suffered a groin injury during the opening series last week at Tampa Bay. The Packers beat Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, anyway, with Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes as the perimeter cornerbacks and Keisean Nixon replacing Alexander and manning the slot.
“That’s why you’ve got to prepare like you’re a starter,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said of Nixon on Thursday. “You’re not a backup. You’re a starter-in-waiting and you never know when that moment’s going to happen.”
Alexander was limited participation on Wednesday, didn’t practice on Thursday and was limited again on Friday.
Jones, who suffered a high-ankle sprain during the final moments of last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, did not practice all week and is out. Veteran Brian Hoyer will get the start.
“I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’ve got a magic wand and crystal ball and know exactly what’s going to happen,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Jones before Friday’s practice. “Nobody knows. I don’t know. He doesn’t know. The doctors don’t know. Take it as it comes and see what happens.”
Packers rookie receiver Christian Watson, who was inactive for his Tampa homecoming last week due to a hamstring injury, was full participation on Thursday and Friday and does not have an injury designation.
“He looked pretty good. So, we’ll see how he responds today and where he’s at,” LaFleur said.
Also out for the Patriots is starting defensive lineman Lawrence Guy. He was a seventh-round pick by the Packers in 2011 but never played a game for Green Bay. He’s made 99 starts in his career.
Packers-Patriots Final Injury Report
Out: OT Caleb Jones (illness).
Questionable: CB Jaire Alexander (groin),
Out: DL Lawrence Guy (shoulder), QB Mac Jones (ankle), OL Yodny Cajuste (thumb).
Questionable: S Joshuah Bledsoe (groin), S Kyle Dugger (knee), DL Davon Godchaux (back), LB Raekwon McMillian (thumb), WR Jakobi Meyers (knee), CB Jalen Mills (hamstring), S Adrian Phillips (ribs).