Aaron Rodgers readies to face Randall Cobb; Davante Adams remains out
GREEN BAY - The question was perhaps challenging for Aaron Rodgers to answer: Was it weirder for him to see Jordy Nelson wearing the Oakland Raiders’ silver and black, or Randall Cobb wearing the Dallas Cowboys’ white and blue?
In the past two years, Rodgers has lost arguably his two closest receivers since becoming the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback in 2008. He’ll see Cobb on Sunday in Dallas, just as he saw Nelson when he was with the Raiders during preseason in 2018.
“It was strange seeing Jordy last year in the silver and black, for sure,” Rodgers said, “just because he’d been with us for so long. It’s different seeing Randall in the blue and white, but still close friends and definitely pulling for success for him for the entire season. He’s a fantastic guy. It will be strange to see him.
“Maybe I’ll get to throw him a couple passes like we did with Jordy last year.”
The bigger question is whether Rodgers will get to throw this week to his new top receiver, Davante Adams.
Adams’ recovery from turf toe injury is not expected to be a short one. The pain could linger for much of this season. But Adams has shown a quick recovery time before, most notably when he left a short-week game against Chicago with a concussion in the 2017, only to play the next week at Dallas.
“Nothing really surprises me with 17 (Adams),” Rodgers said. “He’s one of those rare guys who just has that toughness about him, and the ability to play through stuff. I look at the ’15 season when he was playing on one leg most of the year. You kept trying to tell him, ‘Hey, take some plays off. Maybe take a week off.’ But he never wanted to.
“It speaks a lot to his personal drive and expectations and toughness. Nothing would surprise me with 17, but hopefully it’s this week or next week.”
Bulaga back at practice
Matt LaFleur had done a superlative job of helping to avoid significant injuries by preserving his players’ bodies with rest, until the Packers coach had no choice but to push things last week.
The Packers enter Week 5 with a several injury concerns for the first time this season. Adams (toe), running back Jamaal Williams (concussion) and cornerback Kevin King (groin) were among the starters who did not practice Wednesday inside the Don Hutson Center.
“That game took its toll on us physically,” LaFleur said of the Packers’ 34-27 loss last Thursday to the Philadelphia Eagles, when several key players dropped out. "We are trying to do whatever we can to get bodies back as soon as possible.”
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga returned from his shoulder injury to practice Wednesday, a promising sign for a team that needs its offensive line intact.
Rodgers marveled over Bulaga's resilience.
"I remember back to when he tore his ACL on Family Night and finished the last 20 plays of practice," Rodgers said of Bulaga's season-ending injury during 2013 training camp. "Again, that’s the kind of toughness you can’t teach; you’ve either got it or you don’t, and he’s had it for years and dealt with some tough injuries over the years.
"But it’s nice seeing 75 out there. I think his grumpy nature sometimes is also what makes him so tough. He has such high expectations for himself to be on the field and play and play through pain, and he’s backed that up his entire career of doing that year after year. I give him a lot of credit for that."
LaFleur was noncommittal when asked if reserve tackle Alex Light could play on the road this week if Bulaga is unavailable at the Dallas Cowboys.
Light struggled replacing Bulaga against the Eagles, and the Packers could choose to move right guard Billy Turner to tackle.
“That’s something that we’re working through as the week goes and we figure out exactly where we’re going to be personnel-wise,” LaFleur said. “But, no, we’ve got a lot of confidence in Alex.”
The Packers also had defensive lineman Montravius Adams return from his shoulder injury Wednesday. Adams, the Packers’ third defensive lineman, has missed the past two games with the injury, and the defense struggled stopping the run in both games. Without Adams, defensive linemen Kenny Clark (96 percent) and Dean Lowry (87) were forced to play almost the entirety of last week’s game against the Eagles.
Along with their starters, the Packers’ depth also took a hit last week. Cornerback Tony Brown (hamstring) and outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. Fackrell was limited in practice last week because of a shoulder injury, but he played against the Eagles.
“It is what it is,” LaFleur said of the physical toll playing on a short week took on his roster. “You just have to handle whatever you’re faced with in terms of those injuries.”
Packers claim OLB from Ravens
The Packers made a move to bolster the edge of their defensive front Wednesday, claiming outside linebacker Tim Williams from Baltimore.
Williams, a third-round draft pick in 2017 (78th overall), was an ultra-productive pass rusher at Alabama who has yet to find his traction in the NFL. In his junior and senior seasons, Williams had 18.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss combined. He ranked fourth in the SEC in sacks as a senior and third as a junior. He was also fourth in the conference in tackles for loss (16) as a senior.
Among the SEC defenders who had more tackles for loss in 2016 were Tennessee’s Derek Barnett and Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham. But while Barnett (a first-round pick) and Cunningham (second round) have gone on to be productive NFL players with the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans, respectively, Williams is still waiting. Williams, who was released Tuesday, has two sacks in 19 career games.
Maybe he’ll find more success with the Packers, where he will play with former Ravens teammate Za’Darius Smith. It’s likely Packers director-football operations Milt Hendrickson, a former Ravens scout, had some input with general manager Brian Gutekunst. Williams, who ran a 4.68 40 at the NFL scouting combine in 2017, could still offer potential because of his athleticism.
The Packers plan to release tight end Evan Baylis to make room for Williams on their 53-man roster. Baylis was elevated to the active roster from the practice squad last week. The team plans to return Baylis to the practice squad if he clears waivers.