Packers CB Eric Stokes Underwent Knee, Foot Surgeries

Packers plans at using their Jaire AlexanderEric Stokes cornerback duo have run into consistent turmoil. Alexander went down early in the 2021 season, just as Stokes entered the starting lineup. As Alexander returned last year, Stokes suffered season-ending injuries in November.

As of now, the former first-rounders are on track to suit up together in Week 1. Stokes suffered foot and knee injuries last year, and he confirmed Tuesday each required surgery. The procedures occurred at the same time, per’s Rob Demovsky, but they shut down Stokes for months (Twitter link).

Stokes suffered a Lisfranc injury, with the subsequent surgery ending with a plate inserted. Stokes said he resumed running earlier this month, roughly six months since the ailments sidelined him. This will be Stokes’ third season, though he has only played a handful of games with Alexander healthy.

The Packers will keep Stokes sidelined during OTAs, per The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, who adds the 2021 first-rounder could not walk without crutches until mid-January. The knee surgery addressed Stokes’ meniscus (subscription required).

Should Stokes return to full strength as expected, the Packers will have a cornerback logjam. They tried Rasul Douglas in the slot alongside Alexander and Stokes last season, but the former midseason pickup is more comfortable as a boundary defender. That is also Stokes’ role, complicating matters. The Packers plan to use Keisean Nixon as their primary slot corner.

Although a team having four regular corners would be a good problem to have, the Packers have invested two first-round picks at the position and re-signed Douglas on a three-year, $21MM deal in 2022. Matt LaFleur said the team is planning a rotation between Alexander, Stokes and Douglas on the outside. Given Alexander’s contract (a corner-record $21MM per year) and value to the team, this plan would seemingly affect Stokes and Douglas more than it would Alexander. It will be interesting to see how this comes to fruition by September.

While slotting Alexander and Douglas as top-30 options at corner last season, Pro Football Focus graded Stokes outside the top 100. PFF gave Stokes a much better assessment as a rookie, ranking him inside the top 50. Nixon checked in just outside the top 60 in 2022, though the ex-Raider UDFA only played 290 defensive snaps. This will be an interesting puzzle to follow, with Stokes’ recovery being one of the most notable non-Jordan Love Packers storylines this summer.

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