Davante Adams still 'a little limited' by toe injury; Darnell Savage eyes return
GREEN BAY - Davante Adams has spent the past two days stretching with his Green Bay Packers teammates at the start of practice, then entering the private confines of the Don Hutson Center immediately afterward.
For Adams, that’s where the important work has taken place. In his ramp up in physical activity this week, Adams has put his injured big toe through all sorts of tests, trying to determine if he can play Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
As of Thursday, Adams said, his toe was not fully recovered.
“I’m a little limited right now,” he said, “but for the most part I can do a lot of different footwork stuff. It’s just the full-speed routes right now that are a little tougher for me. So I’m trying to fight through that, but I’m in a really good spot right now.
“Just got to keep letting it heal, because it’s not fully healed yet. Keep letting it heal and just be smart about it.”
Adams said he feels “2 million” times better than immediately following the injury, which happened late in the Packers' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4. Still, getting on the field Sunday night would appear difficult.
The Packers are not going to rush Adams’ return.
“I want him to come back when he feels healthy,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “He’s going to push himself, and he has an extremely high pain tolerance. I wouldn’t ever rule him out because if you start it might piss him off even more to want to get out there.
“Excited to get him back, but I want him to be healthy first and foremost, and that’s a tough injury to deal with. You’ve seen other top receivers who’ve had similar injuries and it nags them for most of the season. I’d love for him to be as healthy as possible before he comes back.”
Savage set to return
Darnell Savage picked a good week to return from his ankle injury.
The rookie safety’s speed has been a difference maker on the back end of the Packers’ defense this season. With him on the sideline, big pass plays down the middle of the field have been an issue the past couple weeks. The Packers specifically struggled covering Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who had seven catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns Sunday.
Waller, who signed a four-year, $29.8 million contract last week, is a talented tight end. He’s not Travis Kelce. The Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro can stretch any defense.
Having a free safety who runs a 4.3 40, such as Savage, should help.
Savage stopped short of officially saying he’ll play Sunday night in Kansas City, but all signs point to the rookie returning after missing the past two games. He was limited in Thursday’s padded practice after being a full participant in Wednesday’s walk-through.
“Some things are out of your control,” Savage said. “Obviously, I expect to play, want to play, but some things are just out of your control. I’m going to just keep rehabbing day in and day out and just taking everything one day at a time.”
Savage said he has been able to practice this week without thinking about the ankle, which is a good sign. He doesn’t think the injury will slow him down if he does play.
“It’s not like a hamstring or anything like that,” he said. “It’s an ankle. So it ain’t going to slow me down.”
The Packers might also have tight end Robert Tonyan back. Tonyan (hip) was limited Thursday after being full-go Wednesday.
Center Corey Linsley did not practice Thursday because of a back injury.
Prepping for Mahomes
In the remote chance Patrick Mahomes plays Sunday night, the Packers' defense will be ready.
The Packers are preparing this week for the unlikely possibility the Kansas City Chiefs’ MVP quarterback takes the field against them. It would defy every odd placed against Mahomes, whose dislocated kneecap is expected to keep him out at least three weeks. Regardless, the Packers have watched plenty of film on the Chiefs quarterback this week.
“I think any time there’s uncertainty,” LaFleur said, “you have to have a plan for both.
Mahomes practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day Thursday in Kansas City. If nothing else, his participation in practice gives the Packers something more to consider in their game planning. But that doesn’t mean it’s a distraction, or even requires much additional work during the week.
As the Packers study the Chiefs, it’s pretty hard to miss film of Mahomes.
“He’s on all the film until halfway through last game,” outside linebacker Preston Smith said. “So he’s on the majority of the film when you watch it. So we’ve got to kind of prepare for both of them. Prepare to see the same thing, just with a different guy throwing the ball and running the show.”
Status quo on kickoffs
Despite the Packers ranking last in the NFL in kickoff return average and 24th in average drive start after kickoff, special teams coach Shawn Mennenga showed no sign that he planned to replace rookie returner Darrius Shepherd.
Shepherd is averaging 16.3 yards per return and the Packers are starting out their drives at the 24.1-yard line on average.
The Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders felt fine about letting the Packers return kickoffs and Kansas City might do the same Sunday.
Mennenga said the unit needs to block better for Shepherd and he needed to do a better job adjusting to the Raiders’ scheme changes in the middle of the game. After Oakland changed things up, Mennenga said some of his players got crossed up in their blocking assignments.
"We’ve got to play better around him, and he knows he has to play better,” Mennenga said, adding that he has been working others this week in practice. “But we’re going to keep coaching him up and stick with him here.”
Burks itching to contribute
Oren Burks sees what everyone has seen the last few weeks — opposing tight ends finding gaps in the Packers' defense and chewing up chunks of yards. The capper was the triumvirate of Darren Waller, Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier combining for 11 catches for 172 yards and three touchdowns for Oakland last Sunday.
Against the Chiefs, the Packers will see two-time All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce (6 feet, 5 inches, 260 pounds), along with Blake Bell (6-6, 252).
“I feel like the athletic tight end that’s a go-to guy has been pretty common throughout the league,” Burks said. “So it’s just the little, minute details that really kind of build up to what we’re digging into this week.
“That’s what we’ve been working on these last couple weeks as far as knowing our leverage, knowing where our help is going to be and just trusting the scheme within the defense. The only times we’ve really been getting hit is when we aren’t ourselves, doing the thing we’re supposed to do in terms of alignment and eyes. That’s a big thing.”
Burks knows he can match up physically at 6-3 and 233 pounds, but he has been slowly worked back into the defensive rotation since returning from a torn pectoral muscle. In his first game against the Cowboys, Burks played 11 defensive snaps. He saw just five against Detroit and then played 19 against Oakland.
He has played 61 special teams snaps.
“I feel like it’s just the gradual, getting back to really playing a significant role on defense,” he said. “I’m just trying to handle as much as they give on my plate. That’s the approach I’m taking. I feel like I match up well with a lot of these tight ends, but I’ve got to do what I can when I’m out there.”