Packers kicker Mason Crosby questionable, running back Aaron Jones out for Vikings game
GREEN BAY - On what’s forecast to be a windy day at Lambeau Field, the Packers may have to play Sunday without kicker Mason Crosby.
The 14-year veteran is listed as questionable against the Minnesota Vikings with left calf and back injuries, which were sustained last week against the Houston Texans. Crosby kicked inside the Don Hutson Center on Friday as a limited participant in practice after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. Head coach Matt LaFleur said he will “see how (Crosby’s) feeling” Saturday before making a decision on whether the kicker is healthy enough to play.
The Packers have backup plans at kicker, which include using punter JK Scott or signing rookie kicker Nick Vogel, who had a tryout with the personnel department Friday.
Meanwhile, running back Aaron Jones (calf) and cornerback Kevin King (quadriceps) have been ruled out against the Vikings. Neither player participated in practice all week.
LaFleur said Wednesday that King had a setback last week while recovering from an injury he sustained against the Atlanta Falcons. The impending free-agent starter will miss his third consecutive games Sunday. Cornerback Josh Jackson is expected to start on the outside in King’s place opposite Jaire Alexander.
Jones will miss his second consecutive game after injuring his calf in practice on Thursday of last week. The Packers figure to be particularly cautious with injuries this week, as a setback against the Vikings could hinder a player’s availability against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.
“I know (King and Jones are) doing everything in their power,” LaFleur said. “We just want to make sure that they’re 100 percent before we throw them back out there.”
Besides Crosby, the Packers listed six additional players as questionable to play against the Vikings, including left tackle David Bakhtiari (chest), running back Tyler Ervin (wrist), safety Darnell Savage (quadriceps), safety Raven Greene (oblique), defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster (shoulder) and tight end John Lovett (knee).
On the Vikings’ final injury report, nickel cornerback Mike Hughes (neck) and starting outside cornerback Holton Hill (foot) have been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Running back Dalvin Cook (groin), who has been sidelined for one game, is expected to return against the Packers but is listed as questionable. Wide receiver Dan Chisena (hip) is also questionable.
COVID-19 hits Vikings
The Vikings will also play without linebacker Todd Davis, who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Rookie cornerback Cameron Dantzler was placed on list Wednesday; however, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told local media there is a chance Dantzler could play Sunday.
There has been no talk of having to reschedule the game, LaFleur said.
"I think we just have to listen to the NFL," LaFleur said. "I know they're going to be very, very cautious and not try to put anybody in harm's way, but all indications are that they have the situation contained, and that we'll be able to play."
EQ making progress
Equanimeous St. Brown’s acclimation back to the field might soon accelerate.
The third-year receiver who has missed more games than he has played in his career was on the field for only three snaps last Sunday against Houston. That followed 11 snaps the previous week against Tampa Bay, when St. Brown returned from a knee injury that put him on injured reserve.
LaFleur said this week the 2018 sixth-round pick might see his snaps increase.
“I think we’re going to keep incorporating him into our plan,” LaFleur said, “and I think there’s a good chance you’ll probably see him out there more than what he has shown in previous weeks. He’s done a nice job in his role on special teams as well. We’ll continue to work him in the mix when we get out there.”
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St. Brown has just two targets in his two games this season. He dropped one and had a miscommunication with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the other.
The 6-5, 214-pound receiver who ran a 4.4 40 at the NFL scouting combine flashed some potential as a rookie, catching 21 passes for 328 yards. He started seven games in 2018, but a high-ankle sprain put him on injured reserve for all of 2019.
“I think anytime you don’t play the game for a year,” receivers coach Jason Vrable said, “this is one of those sports where it’s not like you’re going to walk on the field and just do it. That’s why I think in the NFL you have to practice so much and practice so hard to build that confidence. You can’t just roll the ball out and just play.”
Vrable said St. Brown was building that confidence before his knee injury in training camp. For a receiver who needed developmental reps, more time away from the field was difficult to digest.
Since his return, Vrable said St. Brown has gradually become more confident. If needed, Vrable said St. Brown could play 40 snaps in a game, more than his part-time role the past two weeks.
“We had a long talk,” Vrable said, “before the first game that he was going to play. I said, ‘How you feeling?’ He felt confident. I think the biggest thing was in his mind. He said, ‘I haven’t been out there for literally a year and a half.’ So I don’t think he had any doubts. I think there’s just some nervousness that probably went onto the field of just getting hit and going out there, and feeling confident with (Rodgers) back there and just being on the same page with him.
“I think every week these last three weeks, I can just see him feeling better and more confident and comfortable. So I feel great with his progression.”