Dedication of wounded receivers provides inspiration for Packers

Jim Owczarski
Packers News
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GREEN BAY – Kevin King sought out Geronimo Allison on the Green Bay Packers’ sideline as the game wound down Sunday. It was important, something simple that had to be said before the field flooded with players and staff from both teams, and before the Packers departed the locker room for the day.

Hey 81 – I see you. It ain’t go unnoticed.

Read aloud, it can seem trite. But not there. Not after a 42-24 victory over Oakland when Allison and fellow receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling were cleared medically to play hours before and then contributed six catches for 166 yards that resulted in four first downs and a touchdown with no practice.

And not after the Packers had won in Dallas on Oct. 6, when Allison sought out King on the sideline. The corner had missed the week of practice with a groin injury but before the team boarded the plane to Texas, King felt he could give it a go.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (81) pulls in a first half pass under the defense of Oakland Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley (21) during their football game Sunday, October 20, 2019, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

“Kev, I know you’re hurtin,’” Allison told the cornerback on the sideline in AT&T Stadium. “I watched you all week. I know you’re hurtin’ and I appreciate you. I noticed you putting yourself on the line for this team.”

Allison added one more thing.

“When it’s my turn to do that, I’m going to do that.”

King, sitting alone in his locker Sunday, looked across to where Allison and Valdes-Scantling prepare for work every day. Allison had to work through a chest injury and concussion. Valdes-Scantling, left ankle and knee injuries. Valdes-Scantling came to speak to the media with treatment still coursing through his knee on Friday afternoon. His teammates only nodded knowing what he was doing behind closed doors to play.

So, King had to find Allison on Sunday afternoon.

“I know the way that made me feel,” King said about the conversation in Dallas.

“I watched him this week do that same thing. It was his turn to do that and he did it. And ‘Quez, I know how ‘Quez is feeling. We ain’t gotta talk about that but I know what he went through this week. Guys don’t be out there fakin.’ I’m going to be so honest with you – the workouts we do when we’re hurt are way harder than practice. So ain’t nobody sitting out for no reason. Look, if guys are out there hurt, guys are really hurt. They knew that we had a few receivers down. They knew the importance of them being out there. And they went out there and made it happen. They made it happen. I’m sure they’re going to be engulfed in ice tubs tonight but hey, they made it happen and they got out hopefully safely.”

Allison and Valdes-Scantling said they were game-time decisions, and Valdes-Scantling admitted he was limited in what he could do, but their presence helped Aaron Rodgers to a perfectly rated passing performance and the Packers to put up a season-high in points and passing touchdowns.

Beyond the physical trials the two players went through, their teammates were as impressed with the mental performance. Jake Kumerow practiced the entire week at Valdes-Scantling’s position – he didn’t take a single rep elsewhere. Allen Lazard and Darrius Shepherd did the same thing. So when Valdes-Scantling and Allison were cleared, it tested the group in more ways than one.

“It just goes to show you they’re focused in meetings and listening and learning the game plan and they’re getting mental reps at practice,” Kumerow said. “Because you could just count yourself out, like 'ah, I’m sore, I don’t think I’m going to get back.' And then you might not get back because that’s where your mind is.”

Kumerow said he’s been in that situation maybe for individual plays, when a guy needs a rest. But this was for entire drives where he ran routes he didn’t practice during the week, yet had two catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Lazard caught three balls for 42 yards.

“It felt like we flowed very well together as a group,” Kumerow said. “This week we really focused on everybody knowing the game plan in and out, because we didn’t know who was going to play. So you gotta know every position.

“It’s just a credit to the wide receiver group and to coach (Alvis Whitted) and coach (Matt) LaFleur for having a game plan that was solid enough for us to learn fast and know everything about it.”

As King said, players rarely talk about their own injuries, let alone anyone else’s – Rodgers echoed the fact that every player is working through something to play and finish games – but in this instance the return of Valdes-Scantling and Allison in a short week were worth some recognition.

Since Davante Adams went out with a turf-toe injury against Philadelphia on Sept. 26, the wide receivers caught four passes against Dallas and then 10 against Detroit before Sunday’s 11-catch, 262-yard, 2-two touchdown effort.

“Davante Adams – it’s his room, and he sets the tone,” Rodgers said. “I really feel like whether it’s expressed or not, one reason that Marquez played today was because he knows how important it is to the guys in that room. He knows how important it is to me. He knows how important it is to Davante because Davante played damn near a whole season on a terrible ankle (in 2015). That’s what you do. You go out and perform and play, and I’m really proud of that room.”

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