Packers WR Davante Adams advocates for Joe Philbin while nursing knee injury
GREEN BAY – With one game remaining on the schedule, Green Bay Packers interim head coach Joe Philbin said he will approach Sunday the same way he did the week before regarding injured players: If they can play, they’ll play.
“Football players play in football games,” Philbin said. “And so, for 100 percent, if they're not ready to go ... and it's not in their best interest to play in the game, then they absolutely won't play in the game. However, if they're healthy and they're able to contribute to the success of the team – again, they're football players and that's what they should be doing.”
What remains to be seen is just how many Packers are available to do that as nine players didn’t practice Wednesday, including star wide receiver Davante Adams.
On the verge of setting the single-season franchise record for receptions, Adams said he injured his right knee early in the game Sunday against the Jets when a defender fell on him.
“I see myself being out there,” Adams said of Sunday’s regular-season finale. “I'm always going to be optimistic. A little sore right now, but we'll play it throughout the week and see how it feels.”
Joining Adams on the sidelines Wednesday were starting left tackle David Bakhtiari (hip flexor), cornerback Jaire Alexander (groin), outside linebacker Clay Matthews (back), wide receiver Randall Cobb (concussion), wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion), offensive tackle Jason Spriggs (concussion), defensive lineman Fadol Brown (toe) and tight end Jimmy Graham (knee/thumb).
Safety Kentrell Brice (ankle), right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee), guard Lucas Patrick (abdomen) and left guard Lane Taylor (knee) were limited participants.
Aaron Rodgers has made it this far playing on an injured left knee, so the Packers quarterback has no plans on quitting now.
Yes, Rodgers said, he’s playing in Sunday’s finale even if Bakhtiari is unable to play. Bakhtiari has said he’ll be on the field any time the starting quarterback is, but he battled through injury last week at the New York Jets.
“If anybody has to adjust this week,” Rodgers said, “it’s got to be him.”
Moments later, after Rodgers’ message was relayed to him, Bakhtiari said he’ll also play Sunday.
Bakhtiari has a right hip flexor, he said. He injured his hip chasing behind a failed 2-point conversion play late in the fourth quarter. The play was nullified because of a Jets penalty, and Bakhtiari returned for the next snap.
He didn’t leave the field once.
“I pulled it, or I tore it, while I was running,” Bakhtiari said. “I just felt it pop.”
Bakhtiari said he has been through worse. He played on a broken ankle during an NFC divisional-round game at Arizona in 2015.
A hip flexor, he said, has nothing on playing with a broken ankle.
“Oh, hell no,” Bakhtiari said. “That honestly was probably the worst thing ever.”
As for Philbin's future, players have been effusive about him since he assumed the interim head coach role Dec. 2, and while most have been quick to add the hiring a head coach is out of their hands, Adams threw his weight behind Philbin’s candidacy Wednesday.
Adams said he was an advocate for Philbin and was asked if the interim coach could be the long-term solution.
“Honestly, I can't say, I have zero clue, but I'd love for him to be,” Adams said of Philbin. “I'd love if the search stopped there, just because he's aware of how I feel about him, and like I said, the consistency of what ... just like coaches want from players, they want the same guy every day. We want the same thing.
"It’s tough to have a guy – not hinting at anything; it wasn’t anything in the past – but when coaches are kind of on that roller-coaster ride, up and down, highs and lows, you never know what to expect. It makes it tough to come into work every day and be excited to go to meetings and things like that. When you thought you did well and then you come in and maybe the coach says otherwise.
"(Philbin) keeps it real. He’s going to let you know regardless. If the film looks like crap, then he’s going to tell you. That’s the biggest thing why I respect him.”