Packers Make Unexpected Roster Move With QB Jordan Love

Love Barnes COVID-19

Getty Jordan Love #10 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass during Green Bay Packers Training Camp at Lambeau Field on August 20, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Green Bay Packers placed first-round rookie quarterback Jordan Love and starting rookie linebacker Krys Barnes on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday following Thursday night’s win over the San Francisco 49ers.

While the Packers are not allowed to say whether either player tested positive for the coronavirus or simply came into close contact with an infected person, it is worth noting Love and Barnes — who are former high school teammates — are roommates in Green Bay and would have had exposure to each other that other Packers may have avoided.

The Packers now have five players on their reserve/COVID-19 list, including three of their top four picks from the 2020 NFL draft. Second-round running back AJ Dillon tested positive coming out of last Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings and was placed on the list, taking both fellow rusher Jamaal Williams and fifth-round rookie linebacker Kamal Martin with him as “high-risk close contacts.”

Fortunately, several of them — particularly the close contacts — should be back for the next game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 15, nine days from when the latest COVID-19 transactions were made. Each player would first need to pass the necessary return protocols, which includes producing multiple negative tests.

In the meantime, the Packers have five open spaces on their active roster that will likely remain unfilled until their COVID-19 designations are ready to reclaim them. The only instance in which they might add someone else would be if one or multiple appeared unlikely to be cleared in time for Week 10, and even that wouldn’t be evident yet.

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Packers Taking Extra Measures With QB Room

Zero is the ideal number of COVID-19 designations for any NFL team, but the Packers are taking extra precautions after their latest virus-related roster moves given Love’s association with their quarterback room — and veteran Aaron Rodgers.

Any number of things could transpire with players who have come into close contact with others potentially carrying the virus. Someone like Rodgers might not be deemed a high-risk close contact right now, but the estimated five-day incubation period for COVID-19 could theoretically see him test positive at a date closer to their Week 10 game.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur had to look no further than across the sideline this past Thursday for an example of how COVID-19-related absences can decimate a position group. The Niners were forced to play without wide receivers Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel after Bourne tested positive on Wednesday; however, Bourne has since produced two negative tests, meaning the three receivers — and left tackle Trent Williams — missing time wasn’t necessary.

“We just can’t afford to lose a room,” LaFleur told reporters Friday. “You saw it with basically San Francisco with what they went through with that receiving room and that’s something that we avoid to the best of our ability. Spacing out is going to be a priority, masking up is going to be a priority — it has been a priority, both of those things. … Just making sure we’re mindful of where we’re putting people in every room, maybe do a few more things virtually.”

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