GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers' injury situation could certainly be better this week, but it also could be worse.
Receiver Davante Adams (toe) and safety Darnell Savage (ankle) were ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders. It’ll be the third straight game without the Packers' top receiver, while Savage will miss his second consecutive game.
The Packers are still waiting to see whether receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison can heal in time to be available Sunday. Of the two, Valdes-Scantling is more likely to play. He was listed as questionable, while Allison is doubtful. Tight end Robert Tonyan (hip) is also doubtful.
“We’ve got 48 hours,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said, “so we’ve got time to ... we’ll see if they’ve come around.”
Despite their depleted receiving group, the Packers got healthier Friday. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark (calf/back), cornerback Tramon Williams (knee) and tight end Jimmy Graham (knee) all returned to practice.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine seemed especially confident in his pair of starters playing Sunday, suggesting they were getting some extra rest on a short week.
“Tramon for sure,” Pettine said. “The days he does practice that we take care of him from a repetition standpoint, that’s a win-win. We already know he knows what to do, he doesn’t need the rep. He can take it mentally. It helps with the young guys getting them repetitions as well. He’s a guy that sometimes you have to save those guys from themselves, because they want to practice. So Tramon is not an issue at all.
“Kenny, obviously, hasn’t been in the league as long, doesn’t have the experience. He’s a guy that very rarely has a mental mistake. There’s trust there with him as well, if you need to roll in some of the young guys, get (rookie Kingsley) Keke some more reps, things like that. That’s not a real cause for alarm for us.”
Cornerback Tony Brown (hamstring) was also listed as questionable.
Hoping to play
Valdes-Scantling slowly dressed at his locker Friday, his left ankle taped tightly. The Packers’ wide receiver had not practiced at any point during the week after getting his left knee and ankle buckled from behind against Detroit. LaFleur wouldn’t rule Valdes-Scantling out for Sunday’s game against the Raiders, saying the wideout will use all of the hours between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning to see if he can be ready to go.
“I’ve got two days to kind of figure it out,” Valdes-Scantling said. “I’ve gotten better every single day. Obviously going out is never easy and you want to get back out there as soon as possible. I’ll do what I can to get back as soon as possible. If it’s Sunday, it’s Sunday. If it’s not, it’s not.”
Valdes-Scantling said he played through the pain of the injuries Monday, but adrenaline helped him finish the game. He caught a 46-yard deep ball after he returned.
“You never want to get into a position where you’re 100% vulnerable and obviously I’ve seen those type of hits happen on guys, and it’s definitely something that you are concerned with, that it could be something very serious,” he said. “But I had God’s angel looking out over me and he was able to get me up and back on my feet and finish the game.”
Caught off guard
When the Packers lined up for their first snap against Detroit on Monday night, they were in base defense.
Three defensive backs were dropped 8 yards off the line of scrimmage. At the snap, each took their first steps forward, not back.
This was a defense selling out to stop the run at every level. So when Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford handed the football to running back Kerryon Johnson, it appeared the Packers' defense was in good shape.
Until Johnson flipped the football back to Stafford.
Pettine said the game-opening flea-flicker that gave the Lions a 66-yard gain, with Stafford tossing to receiver Kenny Golladay (against cornerback Kevin King) down to the Green Bay 11, was poor execution by the Packers mixed with the element of surprise.
“I think it’s both,” Pettine said. “I mean, it was a heck of a call. We were in a coverage where we were four deep, and those guys were all kind of tight to the line. It was a run formation, and (we) hesitated just enough, and Kevin was in good shape early and then just took a quick peek back — and that’s all it took.
“That’s a tip of the hat to them for the call and execution, and it’s on us, too, that we’ve got to be ready to go, and we’ve got to — understanding, hey, on the back end, this is defending pass first, run second.”
The element of surprise is something the Packers will again need to guard against in the next couple weeks.
The Raiders, like the Lions, are coming off a bye week. The Kansas City Chiefs, who played Thursday, will have a long weekend to not only rest, but prepare.
When teams get extended time off during the season, it allows them the chance to study an opponent more extensively, calculating where its weaknesses might be. The Lions surely knew two things about the Packers' defense: its run stopping had been problematic in the first five games, and it had also been prone to allowing big plays. Their flea-flicker exploited both weaknesses.
“They got us with a flea-flicker in quarters coverage on the first play,” LaFleur said. “That’s what you’re calling that play for, and they caught the right coverage, and our guys sucked up on the action.
“What we told our guys,” LaFleur said, “is certainly when teams do have a little more time, you’ve kind of got to expect the unexpected. It goes back to trusting your training, trusting your rules, and that’s why we have rules for some unscouted looks. But I’m sure there’s going to be some new wrinkles really in all three phases for them."