The playoffs are approaching and this late in the season injuies start to become more important. Guys going down or not being able to return means that someone has to fill in for their absence. The only difference is now the game means more. Every game from here on out will have huge implications in the season. After these two regular season games the Packers will be playing to keep the season going. Here are five players who need to step up for the stretch.
5: Mason Crosby
It goes without saying that Crosby has not been himself this year. For a stretch of the season he seemed far from reliable. However, it was not all on him. The blocking on the field goal unit was far from perfect and the snap and hold situation was also flawed. However, Crosby and the unit have been more fluid and have performed better. Crosby cannot afford to miss kicks in the playoffs and will need to step up his play.
4: Kingsley Keke
Kingsley Keke was drafted by the Packers in 2019 and has served a rotational role on the defensive line. He has shown flashes of good play and the same has gone for 2021. However, he was a healthy scratch against Cleveland and was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list this week. Keke can be a huge part of the Packers playoff success. The Packers would love to get Kenny Clark some rest and keep him fresh for late in games. However, this can’t be done unless the player playing in his place can make plays. If Keke steps up it could be huge in keeping Kenny Clark fresh late in games.
3: Krys Barnes
Barnes was an undrafted free agent in 2020. He has played well for the Packers as an inside linebacker next to De’Vondre Campbell in 2021. He constantly makes plays and has played 48 percent of the defensive snaps this year. In recent weeks the Packers run defense has given up some big plays. Barnes and Campbell are at the heart of the defense and play a huge part in the run defense. Barnes makes at least one play a game where you would think he’s an all pro. However, consistency has been an issue.
2: Marquez Valdes-Scantling
MVS has dealt with injuries this year, and dealt with COVID last week. Last season he was huge for the Packers and constantly made big play after big play. MVS has once again been good in 2021 but the big plays haven’t been as abundent. Last season he was at the top of the league with 40+ yard receptions. MVS and Rodgers have struggled to connect at times on the deep ball down the sideline, but it’s only a matter of time before the big plays start to hit. If MVS can become the same deep play machine he was last season the Packers offense will become unstoppable.
1: Darnell Savage
The Packers defense is loaded with athleticism, but Darnell Savage might be the most athletic player on the team. Savage has been great so far in his young career but is going through a little slump. He’s been struggling to come down with some interceptions, he’s been called for some penalties and has struggled tackling. However, he is still making plays. Last December Savage started to heat up and become one of the best players on the defense. He flies all over the field and seems like hes always in position to make a play. As one of the leaders of the Packers defense he needs to start making those plays he has an opportunity to make.
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