When Packers defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson went down with an ankle injury and was then taken to an area hospital during the game, there was a sense that it wasn’t good. Wilkerson did not make the flight home and ended up spending the night in the Washington D.C. area hospital. During his Monday press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy said the player underwent surgery after the game.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that Wilkerson will likely miss the rest of the season after suffering a significant ankle injury during the game.
This is Wilkerson’s first season with the Packers after signing a one-year deal with the team in March. Before joining the Packers he spent his first seven NFL seasons with the New York Jets, recording 44.5 sacks and earning one Pro Bowl selection. He was able able to stay fairly healthy with the Jets, appearing in 13 games each of the past seven seasons.
The Packers replaced Wilkerson with Dean Lowry on Sunday. Lowry was a fourth-round pick in 2016 and started 11 games as a rookie, while appearing in all 16 games. Lowry is the likley candidate to receive the majority of Wilkerson’s snaps. He has extremely underrated athleticism and tested among the best at his position prior to the 2016 NFL draft. He will be the player to watch, as it will be interesting to see him develop.
Montravius Adams is another option who could help fill the loss of Wilkerson. He was lost for the season last year, due to surgery early one. The veterans did rave about his practice performance prior to the injury. He did show why they praised him last season, during his game play this pre-season by demonstrating strength and burst off the ball at the line. Adams had played just eight snaps through the first two games of the seasons before playing five snaps on Sunday with Wilkerson went down. Expect to see more of him on the field this week against Buffalo.
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst will likely place Wilkerson on injured reserve and will have an open spot on his roster. If he wants to stay at five defensive lineman, there are two in-house candidates that he could promote from within. James Looney a seventh round pick from this years draft and undrafted free agent Tyler Lancaster are both on the practice squad and available to be promoted.
James Looney appears to be a terrific athlete and could be more than ready to step in a help the defense. Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine has used smaller players as a three technique pass rusher, and it seems Looney could fit that role.
Tyler Lancaster is a more traditional defensive lineman option. He is more of a nose tackle. He is a little on the raw side, but an interesting option to fill some of Wilkerson’s snaps and give the Lowry a breather.
There is a chance the Gutekunst could go outside the organization to fill the roster spot and the player be a linebacker. The defense needs a playmaker who can step in and make a difference. Gutekunst needs to keep looking at all avenue’s to upgrade the roster.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag