GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers signed offensive lineman Ben Braden and cornerback KeiVarae Russell to the practice squad on Wednesday.
Russell (5-11, 194), a former Notre Dame standout, was a third-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016. In an unusual move for such an early draft pick, the Chiefs released him midway through his rookie season after he fell to last on the six-man cornerback depth chart. The Bengals claimed him on waivers. In 20 games (one start) with the Bengals from 2016 through 2018, he broke up two passes. His lone interception came in his only coverage snap in 2016.
“He’s done a great job of being very attentive of everything you want, and with detail,” then-Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in 2017. “He’s a smart guy, and he’s just got a good way about his personality. He’s worked at it, and he's changed how he has been coached in some ways to play within the techniques we're coaching all the time. He’s embraced that. You can talk to him about a play, and he knows what you want to see done differently.”
During his three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus, Russell allowed 22-of-27 passing (81.5 percent) for 262 yards, with one touchdown, one interception and a 104.0 rating.
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After being released by the Bengals following the 2019 training camp, he spent a couple weeks on the Los Angeles Chargers’ practice squad. This summer, he spent training camp with the New York Giants.
He worked out for the Packers last week.
“When it first happened, I was like, ‘Man, am I done?’ I haven’t even shown what I can do yet,” he told Notre Dame Insider. “It was going to be my junior year. I knew how big that was going to be. I knew I was going to be able to help other guys. I knew how high of a level I was at as far as performance. I was physically stronger than I have been before. I knew the game better than I had. I knew it was going to be a special year — and then, bam, it was hard to cope with that. It was.”
Russell was a Freshman All-American in 2012, when he intercepted two passes after moving from running back. He missed the end of the 2015 season with a broken tibia before turning pro. Before the 2016 draft, he measured 5-11 1/8 and ran his 40 in 4.49 seconds.
Braden spent last week on the Packers’ practice squad before being promoted to the active roster on Saturday. He did not play against Houston. An undrafted free agent in 2017 out of Michigan, he’s never taken an offensive snap in the NFL.