Just when it looked like the Packers were starting to get back to full strength in the secondary, fate had other plans during pregame warmups on Sunday.
While suited up on the sidelines, first-round pick Eric Stokes did not play during Sunday's 13-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after injuring his knee before the game.
Head Coach Matt LaFleur is hopeful it isn't a serious injury but the medical staff wanted to run further tests before putting Stokes on the field.
"It was just a freak thing in pregame. (He) went up for a ball and kind of landed wrong," LaFleur said. "I don't think it's something that's going to be long-term."
While All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander remains on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, the Packers got fifth-year veteran cornerback Kevin King back after he missed the past three games due to shoulder and back injuries suffered in Cincinnati.
Despite Stokes being a late scratch, Green Bay's secondary held its own against former MVP Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City's explosive offense. The Chiefs had just two plays of more than 15 yards, while four-time All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill was held to just four catches for 37 yards.
"That's just how this league goes," said King, who had seven tackles and a pass deflection. "Just about every week we're playing without one of our key guys, but that's the mentality we have all up and down on the roster. Everybody's ready, everybody's prepared. If it gets to that, we know what to do out there."
The Packers also had to go deep into their reserves on the defensive line after Pro Bowler Kenny Clark left in the third quarter with a back injury and didn't return.
With Kingsley Keke (concussion) out and Dean Lowry on a "pitch count" due to a hamstring injury, the Packers finished the game with rookies T.J. Slaton and Jack Heflin, plus Tyler Lancaster rotating on the line. It was Heflin's first regular-season appearance.
"I think that's been kind of a theme, sadly, for us this year," Savage said. "Just that next-man-up mentality; we always expect the most out of each other no matter who's in there so I think we handled it just fine."
While Love had his ups and downs against Kansas City, the former first-round pick muscled through any early jitters he may have felt to lead a 10-play, 53-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter that gave the Packers a chance for a late comeback.
"I think for it being his first start, you could see him develop more and more each series, seeing the things you need to see, making the right reads and everybody rallied behind him," Barnes said.
"He's a great player and he's going to continue to do great things. It's his first game. A lot of great things happened for him and I'm excited to see where it goes for him."
Breaking the box: With quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Kansas City regularly filled the box and played single-high safety against the rookie Love.
Green Bay still had some success running against it, with Aaron Jones picking up 53 yards on 12 carries and AJ Dillon adding another 46 on eight attempts. Afterward, LaFleur lamented not running the ball more but Jones understood the flow of the game dictated some of that.
"I thought the run game was getting going," Jones said. "But we were down, so we had to come out and throw the ball a little bit and couldn't have them keep stacking the box so you've got to mix it up every once in a while."
The Green Bay Packers faced the Kansas City Chiefs in a Week 9 matchup on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.
Bombs away: Corey Bojorquez tied former Packers punter Tim Masthay for the second-best single-game net punting average in franchise history with his 48.5-yard average against the Chiefs.
Only Jon Ryan's 49.0 net average against Detroit on Dec. 30, 2007, ranks higher in team annals (min. four attempts).
The final of Bojorquez's four punts traveled 60 yards and was downed at the Kansas City 9.