Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling shakes off death threats from social media 'cowards'
GREEN BAY - After descending from the best game of his NFL career to maybe the worst moment of his career in only a week, Green Bay Packers receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling knew he would encounter some upset fans Sunday night.
He wasn't prepared for just how vile social media would become. Not long after his fumble cost the Packers the chance to win at the Indianapolis Colts, setting the Colts up to kick a game-winning field goal in overtime, Valdes-Scantling tweeted he received "death threats."
On Monday, the Packers third-year receiver said the death threats came from social media.
"Nobody really has access to me outside social media," Valdes-Scantling said. "Social media gives cowards the right to say whatever they want with no consequences. So I guess that's one of those things with this profession that we're in, you've got to take it for what it is. Don't let it affect you. It doesn't affect me. People can say whatever they want. As long as people in this building and our family, they all care about me, that's what matters."
For Valdes-Scantling, the fumble was an unfortunate slip from what had been building momentum. He had four catches for 149 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars a week earlier, including a 78-yard touchdown. He also made the two biggest plays against the Colts, drawing a 51-yard defensive pass interference that set up one touchdown before halftime, and making a 47-yard catch on third-and-10 from the Packers' 6-yard line that led to a game-tying field goal.
Offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins was one of the teammates who used social media to support MVS.
"I know he always comes to practice giving us his all and things like that," Jenkins said. "Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go at the end of the game, but I know 'Quez is a great guy, a great player, a great teammate and he always gives his all to help the team win at the end of the day."
The Packers have good reason to stick with Valdes-Scantling on the field. His play of late has given the Packers a complementary receiver to Davante Adams, something the offense has needed for a long time. He has 518 yards on only 25 catches, an astounding 20.7-yard average per reception. But coach Matt LaFleur said it's the simple things in Valdes-Scantling's game that have impressed him.
LaFleur specifically referenced Valdes-Scantling's block to help set up an Adams touchdown on a 5-yard swing pass.
"I just think he's playing with a lot more confidence," LaFleur said. "He's more decisive. I see him catching the ball with strong hands, and he's had his moments just like everybody has. That's football. This is a tough game for tough-minded men, and you have to be mentally strong, and I think that's where he's improved the most. Despite maybe having a bad play, he's able to bounce back. And I would expect nothing other than that moving forward from him."
Jenkins plays a familiar role
Starting center Corey Linsley played only 10 snaps Sunday before a back injury sent him gingerly walking out of the blue medical tent and Elgton Jenkins from left guard to replace him for the final 50 offensive snaps of the game.
“Once my coach said I was going in there to play center, I was just like, OK, what can I do to help the team, just instinct and technique, being consistent and ID-ing and all the things like that,” Jenkins said Monday. “I feel like I did good (in protection). There’s a lot of things I can clean up on to help the offense while I was at center. Just taking today and this whole week and just looking at that game and seeing things I can do better at.”
It was not an unfamiliar spot for Jenkins, who was an All-American center at Mississippi State when the Packers drafted him in the second round in 2019. He has also played the tackle spots this season after injuries there.
“Elgton, I mean, the fact that he can go anywhere on the offensive line is absolutely incredible,” LaFleur said. “I’ve never been around somebody like that, that has that ability.”
Lucas Patrick has typically backed up Linsley, but he’s been starting at right guard since Lane Taylor was lost for the year in Week 1. That meant rookie Jon Runyan Jr. saw 50 snaps in place of Jenkins, the most the sixth-round pick out of Michigan has played since playing 31 at San Francisco on Nov. 5. He played 15 in Week 1 when Patrick was lost to a shoulder injury.
“Coach (Adam) Stenavich, he always tells us, harps on, you’re only one shoestring from being in the game,” Jenkins said. “I feel like Jon, him being a professional he always comes to meetings and things like that and preparing as such that he would be starting the game, so him being in the game it was no drop-off, no anything like that. He just come in and do his job and I feel like he’s doing it well.”
Linsley has dealt with back and hand injuries this season and he missed time in Week 2 against Detroit. But he has not missed a game since 2016 and has played 67 straight games since then.
“As far as the long-term concerns for Corey, I don’t think it’s going to be anything long term but again, we’ll kind of assess that and he’ll go through everything throughout the course of the week,” LaFleur said.
Fourth-down look back
Facing a fourth-and-1 from the Indianapolis 34-yard line, LaFleur eschewed a long field goal attempt by Mason Crosby to instead continue the momentum of an eight-play drive that could result in either a go-ahead touchdown or an easier kick attempt.
“I liked the aggression from Matt — we have to execute a little bit better in that situation,” Aaron Rodgers said after the game.
Rodgers and LaFleur said the fourth-down play was designed for wide receiver Davante Adams, but the Colts double-teamed Adams and blanketed tight end Robert Tonyan after the snap. That left Jamaal Williams releasing out into the left flat, and Rodgers’ pass sailed high and long.
“It was kind of the mindset to be aggressive and we could’ve attempted a really long field goal, but just had confidence in the play and unfortunately you’ve got to give Indy a lot of credit in that situation,” LaFleur said postgame. “In hindsight, it was not a good call. Aaron tried to hold on as long as he could and tried to hit the checkdown with Jamaal and unfortunately it didn’t work out.”
Aside from the coverage on the play, Rodgers was pressured by Colts defensive tackle Grover Stewart as he got around Jenkins.
“It was me, it was me all the way,” Jenkins said Monday. “I sacrificed protection for the run sell, something I should have never did, just a mistake I felt cost us. I felt we could have converted on that certain play. I guess I never would have sacrificed protection for the run sell.”
Packers cut Kaser
The Packers released punter Drew Kaser on Monday. The Packers signed him Saturday just before departing for Indianapolis as an emergency backup for JK Scott, who had to stay behind in Green Bay initially for a personal matter. But, by Saturday night the Packers knew Scott would be able to play and and he flew in Sunday morning.
Sunday marked the second time in three years Kaser served as a backup plan for Scott, as he was signed – and did not kick – before a game in New England in 2018.