Along with adding James Robinson to the practice squad, the Green Bay Packers continued to bolster their running back depth to combat injuries to Aaron Jones and Emanuel Wilson by claiming old friend Patrick Taylor off the New England Patriots practice squad.
Predicting how a team is going to fill a void on their roster can often be a challenging task. However, bringing back Taylor is about as obvious of a move as we will see take place. Taylor, of course, knows the offense well. With AJ Dillon expected to be the lead back in Detroit, Taylor can fill that third down role for Green Bay, being utilized in pass protection and has proven to be a reliable option in the passing game as well.
Taylor appeared in four games for the Packers this season, and while his primary role came on special teams, he played 70 snaps on offense, holding up well as a blocker, catching five passes for 28 yards, including some key fourth quarter receptions in the Packers comeback win over New Orleans. As a ball carrier, he has averaged 2.8 yards per rush on 11 attempts.
“The thing about it, he’s got better from where he was,” said running backs coach Ben Sirmans about Taylor earlier in the season. “He’s a guy that definitely you rely on because we trust him in those situations. Any time he gets his opportunity, he’s going to go all out. That’s one of the things you do appreciate about him.”
With Dillon and Taylor on the 53-man roster, Robinson will likely be one of the Packers practice squad elevations on Thursday to provide depth.
Although short-handed at running back, finding a way to get going on the ground against the Lions will be an absolute must. As we saw in Week 4 where the Detroit pass rush dominated the line of scrimmage, if Green Bay’s offense is routinely in obvious passing situations, moving the ball through the air becomes a very difficult task against this defense, especially with their ability to get after the quarterback with Aidan Hutchinson.
During the last game, Jordan Love was pressured on nearly 50 percent of his dropbacks, according to PFF. When under that much duress, it doesn’t much matter what the play call is or where the ball is supposed to go—it isn’t going to end well.
In order to make room for Taylor on the 53-man roster, the Packers released safety and core special teams player Dallin Leavitt. There are likely a few contributing factors that went into this decision.
For one, the circumstances that the Packers find themselves in and needing to bolster their running back depth. But in addition to that, Leavitt had a pair of special teams penalties on the opening kickoff that backed the offense up inside its own 5-yard line. As ESPN’s Rob Demovsky put it, that drew the “ire” of Matt LaFleur.
The recent play of Zayne Anderson likely made this move easier to make. Similarly to Leavitt, Anderson is a safety and his primary role comes on special teams. Having both on the roster was a bit redundant to a degree. Anderson is younger and over the last three games, he has made three special teams tackles. For some context, Jonathan Owens is the Packers season leader in that category and he has made five.
Also, and while not the be-all-end-all, Leavitt’s special teams grade from PFF ranked 47th out of 52 eligible Packers. Not ideal for a player whose calling card is special teams and isn’t asked to contribute on defense.
The Packers also announced that the corresponding practice squad move to make room for Robinson was releasing linebacker Christian Young. With five linebackers on the 53-man roster, all of which either contribute on defense, special teams, or both, this is a position of depth for Green Bay.
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Title: Instant analysis of Packers signing RB Patrick Taylor, releasing S Dallin Leavitt