Tyler Ervin’s absence has a domino effect on Green Bay’s offense
GREEN BAY – Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur is hopeful the chest injury that caused left tackle David Bakhtiari to exit in the second half Sunday isn’t anything major.
Bakhtiari, who’s been named to four consecutive All-Pro teams, has been an essential cornerstone on an offensive line that had settled in after weathering a few injuries the first two weeks of the season.
“I don’t believe so,” said LaFleur, when asked following the 38-10 loss to Tampa Bay if there’s any long-term concern about Bakhtiari’s injury. “I know he’s still being evaluated but we’re hopeful that he will be OK.”
Bakhtiari has started 50 consecutive games (including playoffs) for Green Bay dating back to Week 6 of the 2017 season and has only missed six games in his pro career since the Packers drafted him in the fourth round in 2013.
Bakhtiari went to the locker room after falling awkwardly over tight end John Lovett during the first offensive play of the second half for Green Bay. He went to the locker room shortly thereafter, while veteran Rick Wagner finished the game in Bakhtiari’s stead.
“Anytime he’s not able to finish, there’s concern, for sure,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who spoke before LaFleur in the postgame media availability.
“From a teammate standpoint, from a best-friend standpoint, I definitely checked on him. He seemed to be in good spirits but I’m not sure the extent of his injury at this time.”
Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Tampa Bay’s front applied steady pressure, sacking Rodgers more times Sunday (four) than what the Packers allowed through the first four games the season combined (three).
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Rodgers said. “I saw Todd after the game and gave him my respect. I thought they had a really good plan, they executed it really, really well. They did a nice job with their disguise, nice job with their pressures and they were very physical tonight.
“We just didn’t match them as well as we have the first four weeks but we’ll bounce back from this, I have no doubts about that, and we’ll be ready for next week.”
A change in motion: The Packers were without Tyler Ervin due to a wrist injury and the versatile running back’s absence could be felt on offense.
Through the first four games, Ervin had been a big part of the pre-snap motions and jet sweeps Green Bay has been using to keep defenses on tilt. While the Packers had some success early using running back Aaron Jones in that capacity, Tampa Bay clamped down over the final three quarters.
“I definitely think that complicated some things,” said LaFleur of Ervin’s absence. “We’ve got to have a better plan because losing one guy can’t have that type of effect on your football team. If it does, then you’re probably not doing things the right way.
“So we’ve got to make sure we again go back to the drawing board as a coaching staff, take a good hard look at everything and make sure that we’re asking our players to do things they can do.”Ervin also doubles as the Packers’ primary kickoff and punt returner. Second-year receiver Darrius Shepherd filled both of those roles against the Buccaneers, but didn’t have a return.
Odds and ends: The Packers opted against elevating any players from the practice squad for the first time this season, leaving only Ervin, cornerback Kevin King (quad) and third-string quarterback Jordan Love as the team’s three inactives.
The Packers activated receiver Equanimeous St. Brown from injured reserve on Saturday, though. In his first regular-season action since Dec. 30, 2018, St. Brown was targeted twice but didn’t have a reception. With Tampa Bay ahead by a considerable margin in the fourth quarter, rookie second-round pick AJ Dillon saw his most extensive playing time of the season. He broke a 20-yard gain up the middle in the fourth quarter and finished with five carries for 31 yards.