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Packers Lose Tonyan

Getty Robert Tonyan #85 of the Green Bay Packers leaves the field after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the game at Levi’s Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Santa Clara, California.

The Green Bay Packers may have handed the Arizona Cardinals their first loss of the 2021 season on Thursday Night Football, but their victory didn’t come without a cost to their offense.

The Packers will be forced to spend the rest of the season without starting tight end Robert Tonyan after his agent, Jack Bechta, confirmed on Friday, October 29, that he had suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the prime-time win. Tonyan had been knocked out of the game in the third quarter after planting his foot awkwardly on a cut and landing on his leg at the end of a 33-yard reception, immediately receiving medical attention and getting sidelined for the remainder of the game.

Needless to say, Packer Nation is pretty broken up about the loss of “Big Bob.”

Tonyan has been the Packers’ No. 1 tight end since his breakout season in 2020 saw him haul in 52 of the 59 passes thrown his direction and tie Kansas City’s Travis Kelce for the most touchdowns (11) among league tight ends. While injuries to their offensive line have forced the Packers to use him as a blocker more often this year, the 27-year-old has still been an effective piece in their passing game with 18 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns through the first eight games.

Now, it is expected the Packers will place Tonyan on injured reserve imminently.

To make matters worse, the Packers also sustained another loss to an ACL injury with rookie running back Kylin Hill. The 2021 seventh-round pick took a brutal shot to his knee during his lone kickoff return in Arizona and was carted off the field, later being seen on crutches in the tunnel as he greeted his teammates in the postgame.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network confirmed Hill would also miss the rest of the season.

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LaFleur: ‘I’m Sick for Bobby’

While the severity of Tonyan’s knee injury wasn’t known until Bechta shared the update on Friday morning, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur got a little emotional when talking about the subject during Thursday night’s postgame.

“I’m sick for Bobby,” LaFleur said in the postgame on October 28. “He means so much to this team. It’s so cool, and I just told him to watch a guy when you first get here and see the amount of progress that he’s made as a player and just the work that he puts in on a daily basis. It’s really cool when you see that progress and you see a guy reach their potential, and I still think there’s more out there for him. … But I am sick for him, I’m sick for us. My heart goes out to him.”

Who Will Step Up for Packers Without Tonyan?

With Tonyan now out for the season, it will expectedly take a group effort from the rest of their tight ends to make up for his loss. Veteran Marcedes Lewis is presumed to lead that charge, but Josiah Deguara and Dominique Dafney will also need to step up for the offense. The Packers might also find a bigger role for Tyler Davis, who was signed off Indianapolis’ practice squad on September 28 but has taken minimal snaps so far.

Deguara would seem to have the biggest upside of the three tight ends behind Lewis. The Packers took him in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft and were high on him as a rookie before an early-season ACL injury ended his year prematurely. He also stepped up for the Packers once Tonyan exited the game on Thursday, making two receptions for 20 yards down the stretch of their 24-21 victory.

If the Packers don’t feel comfortable with their current tight end room, they could also attempt to trade for another weapon prior to the NFL trade deadline at 4 p.m. next Tuesday, November 2. One potential option could be Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst, who has been playing second fiddle to No. 4 overall pick Kyle Pitts this year. Cleveland might also have a few tight ends available in David Njoku and Harrison Bryant.

Source: Heavy

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