Packers Suffer Setback With Davante Adams for Cardinals Matchup

Adams COVID-19 List

Getty Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers catches a touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Washington Football Team in the game at Lambeau Field on October 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Aaron Rodgers could be missing his top receiving weapon when the Green Bay Packers travel to face the Arizona Cardinals for Thursday Night Football this week.

On Monday, October 25, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst placed All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams on the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting him at risk of missing his first game of the season unless he can quickly clear the league’s protocols for return. Under league restrictions, the Packers are not permitted to say whether Adams tested positive or if his placement on the reserve list was the result of high-risk close contact.

Adams would need to produce two negative tests 24 hours apart from each other and display no symptoms to be cleared for action against the Cardinals. Prior to Adams’ move to the reserve list, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters the team was in “advanced protocols” and would be testing each day leading up to their Thursday Night Football matchup. That means that if Adams stands a chance of playing, the Packers will likely not know until Wednesday at the earliest.

Adams has been one of the league’s most prolific wideouts through the first seven weeks of the 2021 season, ranking in the top three of total receptions (52), receiving yards (744) and catches of 20 yards or more (13). His 73 targets in the passing game are also nearly three times more than any other player on the Packers’ active roster with Aaron Jones (28), Robert Tonyan (25) and Allen Lazard (21) being the three next-closest involved.

If Adams does not clear COVID-19 protocol in time to play the Cardinals, the Packers’ receiving rotation will be down to Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers and Equanimeous St. Brown.

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Could Marquez Valdes-Scantling Add Boost?

The Packers’ offensive firepower would be depleted if Adams could not suit up against the Cardinals, but one thing that could potentially give them a boost is the impending return of Marquez Valdes-Scantling. While fourth-year wideout has been on injured reserve with a hamstring injury since October 2, he became eligible for activation this past Saturday and could get back into the mix at practice prior to their trip to Arizona.

LaFleur also said there was “absolutely” a chance he could play on Thursday against the Cardinals.

“Yeah, absolutely. There’s hope for that,” LaFleur said Monday. “I know he’s out there running today and we’ll see how he’s doing come (Tuesday) and as we progress throughout the week. I know he’s working hard. He wants to be out there. Certainly, we miss the element that he brings. I thought he was playing at a really high level before he went out, and he’s had a great attitude and I know he’s working hard.”

Valdes-Scantling was quiet through the first two games of the season with Rodgers missing him a few times on deep-ball routes, but he broke through in Week 3’s win over the San Francisco 49ers and recorded three catches for 59 yards and his first touchdown of the year. Rodgers has also noted that the absence of MVS and his speed has reduced their capabilities in terms of downfield plays.

“Eighty-three has been hurt,” Rodgers said, referencing Valdes-Scantling’s jersey number. “That definitely is a big part of it. We haven’t had a ton of that stuff in the plan. Also, we’ve seen a lot of Cover 2. With 83 not playing, and them clouding Davante a bunch, we just haven’t had the same opportunities.”

Another Juwann Winfree Promotion Coming?

Another measure the Packers could take to reinforce their receiving room against the Cardinals would be a game-day promotion off the practice squad for Juwann Winfree. The former Denver Broncos draft pick was elevated as COVID replacement for Week 6’s win over the Chicago Bears, but he didn’t see any action on offense. This time, though, there might actually be some meaningful reps for him.

The Packers are currently down three total wideouts from their initial 53-man roster, counting both Adams and Valdes-Scantling. The third is backup receiver and special teams contributor Malik Taylor, who has been on the reserve/COVID-19 list since October 15. He would have to clear the same league protocols as Adams to return for Thursday’s game.

Even if only one of them returns, Winfree could have some value in the lineup despite having played just 24 offensive snaps throughout his career. He was impressing the Packers’ coaching staff during the offseason and could’ve had a good shot at making the active roster if not for an injury that left him sidelined for the entire preseason. Maybe they would rather stash him and wait until he can compete for a roster spot next offseason when their room is less crowded, but it couldn’t hurt to get an early look at what he might be able to offer their team in the long term.

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