Packers: What does Kevin King’s absence mean for defense in Week 3?

Green Bay Packers, Kevin King (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Kevin King (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

In news broken by the Green Bay Packers, Kevin King has been added to the injury report with an illness. Due to the illness, he will be listed as out for tonight’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

With King’s injury, it can be presumed that Eric Stokes will be put into the starting lineup. Stokes, a rookie out of Georgia and Green Bay’s first-round pick, has had plenty of buzz surrounding him following the draft.

King has certainly struggled recently. Due to his struggles, the hype surrounding Stokes has only increased. Now, the rookie will get a chance to prove himself in his first career start.

How will Joe Barry and Green Bay’s defense respond?

Adding help in the secondary has been a focal point in recent seasons. With picks spent on players such as Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage, and the most recent addition in Eric Stokes, Green Bay has put plenty of capital in having depth in the secondary. This strategy will pay dividends with the rookie Stokes getting thrust into a starting position due to King’s illness.

With Stokes presumably starting on the outside, how will this affect the secondary? Towards the end of Green Bay’s week two victory against the Detroit Lions, Stokes took some snaps on the outside with King being pigeon-holed into the slot.

While the sample size was small, Stokes held his own with two pass break-ups to show for his reps. The rookie will likely be tasked with defending second-year pro Brandon Aiyuk or Trent Sherfield. Both receivers have big-play potential, and Stokes will be tested.

Now that Stokes will once again be on the outside, it is likely that Chandon Sullivan will be placed in the slot again. When the secondary was switched up near the end of the week two matchup, Sullivan saw his snap count drop.

With King unavailable to play that slot position, Sullivan will likely be placed back into his spot. Sullivan will likely spend most of his snaps defending an explosive receiver in Deebo Samuel. One of the keys to victory for Green Bay will be limiting Samuel, and Sullivan will be the player tasked with limiting him.

Tonight’s matchup will be a true test for Joe Barry’s defense. With a veteran corner out, albeit a struggling cornerback, Barry will have to find ways to give the rookie Eric Stokes some help in his first start. Whether that be with safety help or help from other positions remains to be seen. If Stokes plays to his first-round potential, the Packers should feel confident in their rookie cornerback.

Both sides of the ball will be tested tonight against a strong 49ers team. With key players for the Packers on offense and defense being ruled out, this will be a good litmus test to see how Green Bay overcomes adversity. Regardless, it should be an entertaining matchup.

Look for Eric Stokes in tonight’s matchup as the rookie earns his first start in a Packers uniform.