GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers have released former first-round pick Johnathan Abram and promoted fellow safety Innis Gaines to the 53-man roster.
Abram was claimed off waivers from the Las Vegas Raiders three weeks ago. Gaines, who originally joined the team in 2021, re-signed to the practice squad in mid-October.
Abram played one snap on defense and 28 snaps on special teams during his first two weeks in Green Bay, but the Packers elevated Gaines from the practice squad and put Abram on the inactives list on Sunday night at Philadelphia.
Abram was in on two tackles on special teams, where he was reunited with Packers coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
“Obviously, that was a little bit of surprise, first of all, that he got cut and that he ends up here with us in Green Bay,” Bisaccia said when Abram joined the team. “He’ll be a diligent learner. He can run. He’s a physical player and I think he’ll have to catch up a little bit to figure out what we’re trying to do here defensively. But he knows a little bit about our system and the kicking game. He played in a couple phases, so we’ll see how it goes here in the next few days.”
Abram was the 27th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Raiders. After missing all but the first game of his rookie season due to a torn rotator cuff and labrum, he started all 13 appearances in 2020, all 14 of his games in 2021 and the first six games in 2022 before being demoted.
“I’m excited,” Abram said upon joining the Packers. “It’s an unfortunate situation having to up and move in the middle of the season, but I look forward to the new start. The guys have embraced me. The coaching staff has embraced me. It’s been nothing but welcome and love, so I look forward to it.”
Abram said he didn’t have anything to prove.
“I’ve played a lot of football, a lot of good football and people around the league notice that, which is kind of why I’m here today,” he said.
Abram would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
The Packers were a man down at safety on Sunday night after Darnell Savage suffered a foot injury on his first defensive snap. The 2019 first-round pick, who not only lost the starting job at safety to Rudy Ford but the nickel role to Keisean Nixon, suffered a sprain, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky.
With Abram inactive, the Packers elevated Gaines from the practice squad. He played 18 snaps on special teams.
Gaines might have made the 53-man roster coming out of training camp this summer but couldn't shake a hamstring injury that ultimately led to his release. When he did practice, he split time at safety and in the slot.
Gaines was one of the great stories of training camp in 2021, going from DoorDash driver to competing for a roster spot.