May 30, 2024

With Aaron Jones expected to be inactive for a third consecutive game, there will be a new No. 3 running back for the Packers tonight against the Giants.
BILL HUBERUPDATED:58 MINUTES AGOORIGINAL:1 HOUR AGO
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – With Aaron Jones not expected to play, the Green Bay Packers have elevated running back Kenyan Drake from the practice squad for Monday night’s game against the New York Giants.

With Jones set to miss a third consecutive game with a knee injury, the Packers chose Drake over rookie Ellis Merriweather to be the No. 3 back behind AJ Dillon and Patrick Taylor.

For Drake, it’s a career-changing span of 13 days.

That’s how long ago it was since the Cleveland Browns released him from their practice squad, where he had spent about a month without getting any game action. The Packers signed Drake on Tuesday, meaning he had three practices to digest this week’s game plan.

“Absolutely,” coach Matt LaFleur said when asked if Drake could provide immediate help. “He’s played enough ball, he’s been around enough ball. He’s done a nice job in our walk-throughs in practice.”

The elevation of Drake was the only roster move of the day made by the Packers. Cornerback Eric Stokes completed his second week of practice since being designated to return from a hamstring injury but will spend another week on injured reserve.

Drake was a third-round pick by the Dolphins in 2016. A speedy runner and proven receiver, Drake topped 1,000 scrimmage yards with the Dolphins in 2018, the Dolphins and Cardinals in 2019 and the Cardinals in 2020. He had seasons of 53 and 50 receptions in 2018 and 2019 and a career-high 955 rushing yards in 2020.

However, the 29-year-old played in only two games this season. Released by the Indianapolis Colts at the end of training camp, he signed to the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad and played in two games. He has one rush for 0 yards and two catches for 31 yards and one fumble.

But his playmaking ability as a receiver is something the Packers lost when Jones suffered a knee injury three weeks ago against the Chargers.

James Robinson had been the No. 3 back the last two games. He did not play against Detroit and had one run for 2 yards and one catch for minus-2 yards against Kansas City.

Merriweather, an undrafted free agent from UMass, has been on the practice squad since Nov. 6, but the team opted for Drake’s experience and athleticism over the unproven ability of the rookie. Drake ran a 4.45 in the 40 before the 2016 NFL Draft while Merriweather ran a 4.68 before the 2023 draft.

“He’s been in systems that have used similar terminology,” LaFleur said of Drake. “I think that’s always the hard part for guys coming in. It typically is a little easier for veterans to come in and pick up and just learn the stuff at a much higher rate because they’ve got a reference point.

“They’ve learned. There’s a lot of stuff across the league that is very, very similar; it’s just how do you articulate it. There might be finer details of the coaching that could be a little bit different. But I think there’s a lot of carryover.”

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