A short week for the Green Bay Packers just got even shorter.
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Packers have begun contact tracing through their roster and staff after rookie running back AJ Dillon tested positive for COVID-19 during Sunday’s pregame against the Minnesota Vikings. He played 17 snaps in the home loss, carrying the ball five times for 21 yards and catching one pass for 16 yards.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to game-day PCR testing for COVID-19 starting in Week 6. Everyone tests Sunday morning, but don't get results until late Sunday/early Monday.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 2, 2020
Dillon will expectedly be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and won’t be available to play in Thursday’s road game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 9 due to safety protocols. The Packers will also have a space to fill on their active roster — potentially with IR returnees Allen Lazard or Christian Kirksey — once Dillon’s move becomes official.
The biggest question now is how Dillon’s positive test will impact the rest of the Packers’ roster, particularly a running back room rife with injuries at the moment. Star rusher Aaron Jones has missed the past two games with a calf strain, while return specialist/running back Tyler Ervin had also missed multiple games with a wrist injury before returning on Sunday.
The Packers also released a statement that confirmed one of their players had tested positive without naming Dillon, indicating they learned the results of the test on Monday.
“The Packers were informed today that a player has tested positive for COVID-19. Our organization has entered the NFL’s intensive protocol and the player has self-quarantined. We will continue to work with the league on contact tracing as we follow the guidelines of intensive protocol. All player meetings will be conducted virtually today.
Our focus continues to be on the health and safety of our players, staff and community. We will continue to work closely with the NFL and medical professionals and follow their guidance.”
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Thursday Night Game Not (Yet) in Jeopardy
While the Packers downgraded to virtual-only activities on Monday and canceled all media availability for their players, head coach Matt LaFleur didn’t seem worried about whether a positive test would cause the NFL to shut down their Thursday game in San Francisco.
“I was made aware really early (Monday) morning, it was like 6 o’clock or 6:30 maybe,” LaFleur told reporters Monday afternoon. “Then they’ve got to run the tests and see where we’re at. We’ve got a couple guys that we didn’t allow back into the building that had to get the rapid test as well as their normal COVID test, but they did it through the drive-thru.
“All indications are we’ll have a plan for whatever comes our way. It doesn’t change the expectations or the standards that we have for ourselves and we’ll just adjust accordingly.”
The Niners will also have to adjust for the upcoming week with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle both expected to miss extended time with injuries. Instead, the Packers defense will square off against backup Nick Mullens, who went 43-of-62 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his two starts earlier this season.