Packers Catch Break as Star Linebacker Lands on Reserve List

Campbell COVID List

Getty De'Vondre Campbell #59 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball after intercepting a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Green Bay Packers might have just gotten extremely lucky with the status of breakout inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.

According to Tuesday’s NFL transaction wire, the Packers placed Campbell on the reserve/COVID-19 list on November 30 after he tested positive for the coronavirus and could be forced to spend more than a week without him on the roster depending on his vaccination status and the protocols he must clear in order to return.

Campbell has not publicly shared his vaccination status — nor is he required to do so — but there has been speculation that he is unvaccinated given that he has followed some of the league’s protocols for unvaccinated players, such as wearing a mask on the sideline at games or during press conferences with the media. If Campbell is unvaccinated, he would have to isolate for 10 days and would not become eligible for activation until Friday, December 10.

Fortunately, the timing is much more favorable with Campbell than it has been with some of the other players forced to miss time with positive COVID-19 tests this year. The Packers are currently in the midst of their bye week and will not play another game until they host the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on December 12, two days after Campbell is due to become eligible for return.

So long as Campbell makes a full recovery and has no lingering effects from the virus, it seems likely he won’t have to miss any playing time.

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Will Campbell Be Named a Pro Bowler?

Campbell currently leads the Packers with 99 tackles (eighth-most in the NFL) and has been a difference-maker for their defense through the first 12 games of the 2021 season, displaying a strong tendency for getting to the ball and making plays. He has also recorded a pair of interceptions, broken up four passes, made four tackles for loss and forced two fumbles with one recovery, bringing an impact to the center of their defense that has been missing from the lineup in recent seasons.

Will it be enough for him to make the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career, though?

In terms of impact, there is no question that Campbell has been a high-value addition for the Packers. Not only has the 28-year-old made his presence felt in a variety of ways for the defense, but he was also quite possibly the biggest bargain of 2021 free agency, signing a one-year contract worth just $2 million that he has already more than earned. His Pro Bowl case will only get stronger if he finishes out the year playing at a high level.

The Packers had no players leading their positional charts after the first week of fan voting for the 2022 Pro Bowl, while the NFC’s frontrunner at inside linebacker was Devin White of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The final selection process will ultimately consider the votes from fans, players and coaches around the league — each group carrying a third of the decision — but Packers fans hoping to see Campbell recognized as a Pro Bowl talent will have until December 16 to cast their online ballots at NFL.com.


Backup Plan if Campbell Misses Time?

While the outlook seems good for Campbell to return before Week 14’s game against the Bears, the Packers might want to spend some of their bye assessing their backup options in case there are any hangups with getting him back to the roster. After all, just because Campbell will be eligible to return before the matchup does not guarantee that the virus won’t impede his progress in some capacity.

If Campbell does end up missing time, the signal-calling responsibilities on the inside would most likely fall to Krys Barnes. The second-year linebacker wore the green dot on his helmet for the majority of his rookie season alongside veteran Christian Kirksey and seemed in line to do so again before Campbell’s arrival during the offseason. Nevertheless, Barnes has continued to make an impact in his limited role with some big-time stops among his 55 total tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries, including one in Week 12’s victory over the Rams.

The Packers have otherwise been relying upon a rotation of Oren Burks, Ty Summers and Isaiah McDuffie to get the job done at inside linebacker. Burks would be the top choice to slide into the No. 2 role if Barnes needed to become the starter, but again, even if the Packers needed a backup plan, it would only be on a short-term basis.


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