Health-wise, the Green Bay Packers have seen better days.
The Packers listed nine players, including wide receiver Davante Adams (hamstring) and nose tackle Kenny Clark (groin), as questionable to play Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons on their final injury report for Week 5’s home game.
Other Packers starters with a questionable status for prime-time include: starting cornerback Jaire Alexander (hand/knee), rookie tight end Josiah Deguara (ankle), return specialist Tyler Ervin (wrist), outside linebacker Rashan Gary (ankle), center Corey Linsley (groin), punter JK Scott (illness) and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (ankle).
Veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis was also listed as doubtful after missing the entire week of practice with a knee injury.
Packers' injury statuses vs. Falcons:
– Christian Kirksey, Allen Lazard out
– Marcedes Lewis doubtful
– Davante Adams, Kenny Clark, Za'Darius Smith, Rashan Gary, Jaire Alexander, Corey Linsley, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Ervin, and JK Scott are questionable. pic.twitter.com/XXjGHfZzzP
— Olivia Reiner (@ReinerOlivia) October 3, 2020
The Packers also placed inside linebacker Christian Kirksey and wide receiver Allen Lazard on injured reserve Saturday afternoon, effectively removing two more starters from the equation until Week 8 at the earliest. NFL teams are allowed to return an unlimited number of players from IR this season, but players on the list must wait three games, not weeks, before being eligible to return to the active roster.
The Falcons don’t have nearly as much uncertainty with top wide receivers Julio Jones (hamstring) and Calvin Ridley (ankle) the only two listed as questionable. They also ruled out four others, including kicker Younghoe Koo, defensive end Takk McKinley and safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal.
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Packers Giving Stars Up Until Game Time
The Packers could be going on their second straight week without both Clark and Adams in the lineup, but head coach Matt LaFleur was clear a final decision won’t be made on either of their star players until just before kickoff at 7:15 p.m. CT on Monday.
“We’ve got about 53 hours before kickoff, LaFleur said Saturday afternoon. “We’ll give him up until that time and make a decision. We’ll see.”
“Same deal (for Clark),” LaFleur added later. “We’ll go back and watch the tape and make sure that No. 1, he can handle himself. We never want to put one of our guys at risk. It’s always a risk every time you step out on the field, but certainly, we don’t ever want to put somebody at a greater risk of injury and set not only the player back but the team back.”
Scott’s Illness Worth Monitoring for Monday
Scott missing Saturday’s final practice of the week is significant for a couple of reasons, the most prominent of which relates to concern about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While there was no suggestion that Scott showed coronavirus symptoms, LaFleur had already laid out how the team is approaching sick players during an irregular NFL season.
“I think we’re going to err on the side of caution any time somebody has a symptom,” LaFleur said Saturday. “We’re going to give them the immediate test, send them out of the building for the day and let them join us by Zoom meetings. That is one luxury that I think that we’re much more prepared for, is that if a guy has something come up that they don’t miss anything — at least from a meeting standpoint.
“At the same time, it also makes sure that they’re not passing on their illness to somebody else. There is some benefit to that where, in the past, most guys would probably gut through the day and potentially get other people sick.”
Even if COVID-19 concerns are dismissed, the Packers don’t have an immediate alternative available if Scott is unable to punt for them against the Falcons. They have hosted a few punters for workouts this season and do have two spaces open on their active roster with their IR moves from Saturday, but it would still take some time to get a replacement signing worked out properly.