Green Bay Packers LB Christian Kirksey out at least one game, source says

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Packers will be without Christian Kirksey for at least a game and possibly longer, sources told ESPN after the starting linebacker suffered a shoulder injury in Sunday's win over the New Orleans Saints.

A source said the injury is not considered season ending, and although Kirksey is awaiting a second opinion, surgery likely will be avoided.

The best-case scenario is that Kirksey will miss next Monday night's game against Atlanta and then return after the Packers' Week 5 bye to play at Tampa Bay on Oct. 18.

However, injured reserve is a possibility, meaning Kirksey would be unavailable for at least three weeks.

The Packers signed the former Cleveland Browns starter to a two-year, $13 million contract in March to replace Blake Martinez, who signed with the New York Giants in free agency. Kirksey played every snap in the first two games and until he got hurt on the 17th defensive play against the Saints.

Kirksey missed all but the first two games last season because of a broken collarbone and played in just seven games in 2018 while missing time because of hamstring, ankle and shoulder injuries.

The injury means the Packers will be without their two preferred starters at inside linebacker. They lost rookie fifth-round pick Kamal Martin, a projected starter, to a knee injury in training camp. Martin was expected to miss at least the first six weeks of the season. Undrafted rookie Krys Barnes, out of UCLA, has filled in for Martin, but Kirksey's shoes may be tougher to fill because he's the defensive signal caller.

Second-year pro Ty Summers, who had not played a snap on defense before Sunday, took over for Kirksey against the Saints and played the final 44 snaps. He wore the speaker helmet, taking the playcalls from defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and relaying them in the huddle. The speedy Summers, a seventh-round pick in 2019 who had played only on special teams in his first season-plus, led the Packers with nine tackles. The team reported no communication issues with Summers in charge.

"Ty stepped up," said Packers defensive tackle Kingsley Keke, who had two sacks against the Saints. "At practice, you can tell he's dialed in, he's locked in. I know he prepared well at practice, you know, it's going to happen into the game. Kirksey went down and Ty stepped in and made some key plays for us. So it's all about trusting each other and keep building."