The Green Bay Packers had a number of key players return from injury for Thursday’s practice.
Starting cornerback Kevin King was back out there for his first practice of training camp. Defensive tackle Kingsley Keke and rookie inside linebacker Isaiah McDuffie also returned from injury. They had previously been on the non-football injury list.
According to Olivia Reiner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, all three were practicing in pads.
This is good news for the Packers’ defense ahead of the start of preseason.
Rookie cornerback Eric Stokes has been tested a lot during training camp, regularly seeing Davante Adams on the opposite side of the field. Of course, Adams regularly wins one-on-ones no matter whether it’s a rookie or an All-Pro in front of him, but it will undoubtedly help Stokes’ development.
King’s return will ensure there is some competition for a starting job opposite Jaire Alexander for this season. Stokes may be the future, but King could well be a starter on the outside this year.
For the defensive line to improve, the Packers will need a big season from Kingsley Keke. He’s improved each year and had a couple of particularly impressive performances last season, putting up two sacks in two different games. Getting him back on the practice field is good news. I’d love to see a starting trio of Keke, Kenny Clark, and rookie TJ Slaton when the Packers have three defensive tackles on the field.
Isaiah McDuffie needs as many practice reps as he can get, so his return is also important.
There is plenty of competition linebacker and, despite the fact he was a late-round draft pick, there’s no guarantee McDuffie will make the 53-man roster. He will need to make a fast start and also likely needs to show he can contribute on special teams. He faces competition from Oren Burks, Ty Summers, and Kamal Martin for a spot on the 53.