The Green Bay Packers won’t be getting reinforcements for their receiving corps in time for Thursday night’s game in San Francisco.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers will not be activating wide receiver Allen Lazard from injured reserve in Week 9 against the 49ers following his second straight week back at practice. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur had deemed Lazard “really close” to a return earlier this week, but the third-year wideout will now miss his fifth straight game.
Lazard was leading the Packers in receiving with 13 catches for 254 yards and two touchdowns through three games prior to suffering a core-muscle injury in Week 3. The injury forced him to undergo surgery at the beginning of October and has since left the offense without its second-best receiving option — with few others stepping up in his absence.
The Packers also elevated safety Henry Black, cornerback Stanford Samuels and running back Dexter Williams from the practice squad to the game-day roster as COVID-19 replacements for the three players who were placed on the reserve list this week. They also promoted Ben Braden as one of their traditional game-day elevations.
Middle linebacker Christian Kirksey, who also returned to practice in Week 8 and is eligible to return to the 53-man roster, was also not activated from injured reserve despite COVID-19 contact tracing leaving the Packers without rookie linebacker Kamal Martin. The defensive responsibilities at the spot will fall on Krys Barnes, Ty Summers and James Burgess.
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Aaron Jones’ Return Should Boost Offensive Outlook
The other news from Schefter is the Packers remaining hopeful that star running back Aaron Jones will play against the Niners this week after missing the past two games with a calf strain. If he does, the Packers could be getting an even bigger boost than if Lazard had come back.
The Packers were forced to place second-round rookie rusher AJ Dillon on the reserve/COVID-19 list to begin the week after he tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday. The NFL’s contact-tracing protocols also determined fellow running back Jamaal Williams would have to miss Thursday’s game, which would have trimmed their ranks down to Tyler Ervin and Dexter Williams — a group with less than 20 combined career carries.
Even if Jones is put on a snap count, it helps the Packers to have his veteran experience as a foundation for which they can form their offensive attack. He had gained 550 all-purpose yards and scored seven touchdowns through his first five games this year, and the recency of his 2019 breakout season reminds how capable of taking over a game Jones is.
The Packers figure to still depend heavily on Rodgers’ arm, but even the passing game benefits when Jones is on the field. Surely, Green Bay will be hoping to get more out of its wide receivers not named Davante Adams this week, but Jones and tight ends Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger would at least off some relief if they come up short.