Packers coach Matt LaFleur makes bold statement about Eric Stokes at OTAs

Eric Stokes is back.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes
Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes / Carter Skaggs/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

The past couple of seasons have been tough for Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes.

After a promising rookie year, Stokes struggled at the start of the 2022 season before suffering a significant injury. He barely played last year due to ongoing hamstring issues, leading to the Packers declining his fifth-year option.

However, they have maintained confidence in Stokes, highlighted by their lack of urgency to address the cornerback position this offseason. They believe he can get back to his best and, crucially, stay healthy.

Stokes revealed details of his injury after spending time at Badger Athletic Performance this offseason. Per Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Stokes' foot "wasn't strong enough to support" his hamstring, which may have caused the injury issues.

The hope is that insight can help Stokes stay healthy, and head coach Matt LaFleur is excited.

Packers' Matt LaFleur says Eric Stokes looks better than ever

The Packers lack options at outside corner beyond Jaire Alexander, Stokes, and Carrington Valentine. Alexander and Stokes have struggled to stay healthy in recent years, while Valentine is a seventh-round pick entering year two.

The good news is that Stokes is healthy, and LaFleur said he looks better than ever.

"I think he's as good as I've ever seen him. Both mentally and on the field," said LaFleur. "I want to temper the expectations with that, but I do really mean that. He's out there competing each and every day. He looks fully healthy. He's doing a great job of challenging our wide receivers, he's always in great phase, and I think you see that personality is back."

Hopefully, Stokes can participate in the remainder of the offseason program and training camp. He missed all that time while recovering from injury last summer, and every return was quickly met with a setback. The hope is that those concerns are in the past.

Stokes showed promise as a rookie with 14 pass defenses while allowing a completion percentage just below 50. If the Packers can get that version of Stokes and a healthy Alexander, look out. Along with the additions made at safety, Green Bay's secondary would have sky-high potential.

There's a long way to go, but the early signs are encouraging. The Packers went to great lengths to find the root cause of Stokes' and Christian Watson's hamstring injuries, while LaFleur made significant changes to his strength and conditioning staff. Hopefully, those moves will lead to better injury luck across the roster.

Getting a fully healthy Stokes would be huge for Jeff Hafley's defense.

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