GREEN BAY, Wis. – With Quay Walker and Krys Barnes injured in Minnesota, Isaiah McDuffie could go from No. 4 inside linebacker to starter Sunday night against the Chicago Bears.
Walker, the team’s first-round pick, started and played 38 impact snaps before suffering a shoulder injury. Krys Barnes, a starter the previous two seasons, came off the bench. He played nine snaps before leaving with an ankle injury.
Speaking Monday, a day after a 23-7 loss to the Vikings in the season opener, coach Matt LaFleur said, “We’re going to give Quay the week, but hopefully he’ll be back, ready to play.”
Meanwhile, key defender Barnes will be out for several weeks with a sprained ankle and calf injury. according to the NFL Network. He may end up on short-term injured reserve.
“I think we avoided a significant injury, so that was good news today,” LaFleur said.
McDuffie, a sixth-round pick last year, played the first six snaps of his career to close out the game. After recording a team-high 16 tackles in the preseason, he had one against the Vikings.
“Being a rookie is definitely different than being a second-year player,” McDuffie said during training camp. “You just know what to expect. As a rookie, I had no idea what the NFL would be like. Year 2, you’ve been here, done that before. You just go back and do it again.”
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Walker became Green Bay’s first top pick since Nick Perry in 2012 to start the first week of his rookie season. Walker led the team with seven tackles in the first half and finished the day with eight. He led the team with five interceptions — a Pro Football Focus metric that reflects Green Bay’s win/loss classification system — but went 5-of-5 passing and lost a fumble on a Justin Jefferson catch.
“I thought there was a lot of good stuff,” LaFleur said. “I think the first series was a bit shaky for him. That tends to be the case, and there will be some growing pains with all the new players in this league. It is as it is. There are a lot of different things that they haven’t seen before, and to get into your first game of the regular season, there are going to be mistakes. I loved how he was flying around. I thought he was physical, and he has a bright future. He just has to keep learning and there’s no better way to learn than to get those replays.
On Thursday, defensive coordinator Joe Barry called Walker a “special kid, special player.” Walker was pleased, but knew he had to try.
“I wouldn’t consider myself good,” he said Friday. “I haven’t played a game yet. The main thing with me is that I want to be neutral at all times and I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I am still a beginner. It’s a long, long season. I’m just trying to get better every day and keep working. For what you said, I just think everything I did in college has translated to me being in the NFL. A lot of what we do now is kind of similar, so it was pretty easy for me to transition back in.”
LaFleur did not have an update on cornerback Keisean Nixon, who suffered a shoulder injury on a third down, or guard Jon Runyan, who missed most of the second half with a concussion.
There were two major injury news stories around the NFL.
– Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin, who caught 98 passes for 1,103 yards last season before a torn ACL, suffered a hamstring injury Sunday night against Dallas. “Hopefully, we’ll get him back sooner rather than later,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. The Packers visit Tampa Bay in Week 3.
– Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a broken thumb that required surgery. He will miss about half the season and could potentially return for the Week 10 game at Green Bay, according to NFL Network.