Packers Expected to Play Without Multiple WRs vs. Vikings

Lazard/Taylor Injury

Getty Allen Lazard #13 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

The Green Bay Packers could be down a few wide receivers for their first matchup of the season with the Minnesota Vikings.

In their final injury report for Week 11, the Packers listed two wideouts — Allen Lazard and Malik Taylor — with injury designations for Sunday’s road game against the Vikings after both spent the entire week sidelined at practice. Taylor has already been ruled out with an abdominal injury, while Lazard is considered doubtful to play with a shoulder injury.

The Packers also slapped injury designations on four other key contributors for the week. As expected, neither left tackle David Bakhtiari nor running back Aaron Jones will play as each continues to recover from a knee injury. Outside linebacker Rashan Gary (elbow) and defensive lineman Kingsley Keke (concussion) are also deemed questionable against the Vikings.

Meanwhile, the Vikings head into the matchup in a much healthier place with backup guard Wyatt Davis (ankle) being the only player they have ruled out ahead of time. Starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin) is also listed as questionable to play against the Packers.

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Could Juwann Winfree Get Another Elevation?

The Packers won’t be in the worst of places if both Lazard and Taylor are unavailable against the Vikings. They still have their top two receivers in Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and can lean more heavily on Randall Cobb and third-round rookie Amari Rodgers to cover the reps their injured pass-catchers are leaving behind. At the same time, they might find it more comforting to have a fifth receiver on the roster and ready to go if any more issues arise.

That’s where Juwann Winfree should come in.

Winfree has already been elevated from the practice squad to the Packers’ game-day roster twice this season as a COVID-19 replacement, but he is still eligible for two standard elevations before the team would need to sign him to their active roster in order to play him. He also looked to be capable enough in his last showing in Week 8 when he caught four passes for 30 yards against the Arizona Cardinals and nearly scored his first career touchdown on a pass that Aaron Rodgers was unable to put on the mark for him. While he did fumble the ball at an unfortunate moment for the team, he could have value in a deep-depth role for the team in Week 11.

The Packers might also consider elevating newly-signed running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. Not only do they need depth in the backfield behind AJ Dillon and Patrick Taylor while Jones is out, but they also need someone to step up and cover Taylor’s responsibilities as their kickoff returner. Whyte averaged 18.9 yards on 14 kickoff returns during his six games with Pittsburgh in 2019 and he was even better (26.1 yards) at the collegiate level, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns.

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