Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley earn first-team AP All-Pro honors
GREEN BAY - A year after their 13-3 season included little individual recognition, the Green Bay Packers are experiencing a much different reality after duplicating that record in 2020.
The Packers had four first-team All-Pro selections from the Associated Press on Friday, joining the Indianapolis Colts for most in the NFL. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, receiver Davante Adams, left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Corey Linsley were first-team selections, while edge rusher Za'Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander were second-team selections.
The Packers already tied the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens for most Pro Bowl selections with seven. A year ago, Bakhtiari was their only All-Pro selection, receiving a second-team nod from the Associated Press.
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It's Rodgers' third time receiving a first-team selection, pulling even with predecessor Brett Favre. Rodgers was also a first-team All-Pro in 2011 and 2014, his previous MVP seasons. There's a good chance Rodgers will add his third MVP this season. His selection came over Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo's Josh Allen, who were second-team All-Pros and also in the MVP hunt.
Adams had been a Pro Bowler each of the past four seasons. This is his first time receiving an All-Pro selection after setting the Packers' single-season record for 115 catches and tying Sterling Sharpe's franchise record of 18 touchdown catches in a season despite playing only 13½ games because of a mild hamstring injury. He is the first Packers receiver to earn a first-team All-Pro selection since Antonio Freeman in 1998. Jordy Nelson was a second-team All-Pro in 2014.
Bakhtiari continues adding to an impressive resume. It's his second first-team All-Pro selection, joining 2018. He was also a second-team All-Pro in 2016, 2017 and 2019, making this the fifth straight year he's received either a first- or second-team nod. Bakhtiari turned 29 in September, and Rodgers has started to refer to his franchise left tackle as a potential future Hall of Famer. The next challenge will be recovering from a knee injury that will keep Bakhtiari out of the playoffs and perhaps force him to miss some time early next season.
Linsley's selection might garner the most excitement from teammates inside Lambeau Field. A longtime Mr. Steady on the Packers offensive line, Linsley has gone his entire career without leaguewide recognition. Bakhtiari was especially incensed when Linsley was not selected to the Pro Bowl this season, saying the center was among the best two players in the league at his position. Linsley indeed was selected as the best center in football, something that will look awfully nice on his resume as he enters free agency this spring.
Smith was a Pro Bowler last season but felt like he was snubbed for the Associated Press' All-Pro list. His 12.5 sacks this season tied Arizona's Haason Reddick for fourth most in the NFL.
Alexander has climbed his position despite a lack of interceptions. He had just one pick this season, and only four in his three years, but is among the best coverage corners in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has said he feels confident schematically that Alexander can take away half the field from a quarterback regardless of his matchup.
First team All-Pro
QB — Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
RB— Derrick Henry, Tennessee
TE — Travis Kelce, Kansas City
WR — Davante Adams, Green Bay; Stefon Diggs, Buffalo; Tyreek Hill, Kansas City
LT — David Bakhtiari, Green Bay
RT — Jack Conklin, Cleveland
LG — Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis
RG — Brandon Scherff, Washington
C — Corey Linsley, Green Bay
EDGE — T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh; Myles Garrett, Cleveland
IL — Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams; DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis
LB — Fred Warner, San Francisco; Bobby Wagner, Seattle; Darius Leonard, Indianapolis
CB — Xavien Howard, Miami; Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams
S — Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City; Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh and Budda Baker, Arizona (tie)
PK — Jason Sanders, Miami
P — Jake Bailey, New England
KR — Cordarrelle Patterson, Chicago
PR — Gunner Olszewski, New England
Special Teamer — George Odum, Indianapolis
LS — Morgan Cox, Baltimore
QB — Josh Allen, Buffalo, and Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (tie)
RB — Alvin Kamara, New Orleans
TE — Vacant
WR — DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona; Justin Jefferson, Minnesota; Calvin Ridley, Atlanta, DK Metcalf, Seattle, and Cole Beasley, Buffalo (tie)
LT — Garett Bolles, Denver
RT — Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans
LG — Joel Bitonio, Cleveland
RG — Wyatt Teller, Cleveland
C — Ryan Kelly, Indianapolis, and Frank Ragnow, Detroit
EDGE — Khalil Mack, Chicago; Za’Darius Smith, Green Bay
IL — Chris Jones, Kansas City; Cam Heyward, Pittsburgh
LB — Devin White, Tampa Bay; Demario Davis, New Orleans; Lavonte David, Tampa Bay, and Roquan Smith, Chicago (tie)
CB— Jaire Alexander, Green Bay; Tre’Davious White, Buffalo
S — Jamal Adams, Seattle; Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati
PK — Justin Tucker, Baltimore
P — Jack Fox, Detroit
KR — Andre Roberts, Buffalo
PR — Jakeem Grant, Miami
Special Teamer —- Matthew Slater, New England
LS — Luke Rhodes, Indianapolis
Rest day for Davante Adams
Packers wide receiver Davante Adams did not participate in Friday’s bye week practice. Head coach Matt LaFleur opted to give Adams some rest before practices ramp up next week leading up to the divisional round of the playoffs.
LaFleur said that Adams’ lack of participation in practice has nothing to do his availability next week.
“He's been getting treatment and getting some conditioning in,” LaFleur said. “Yeah, no reservations there.”
Adams was present at Thursday’s practice, but he did not have his helmet and appeared to be assisting the wide receivers with drills.
Adams was not the only veteran resting on Friday. Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, offensive tackle Rick Wagner, tight end Marcedes Lewis and cornerback Kevin King were not participating outdoors on Clarke Hinkle Field during the portion of practice open to media. Second-year defensive lineman Kingsley Keke (concussion) also was not present.
LaFleur is making sure his players and staff are fully utilizing the benefits of the bye week, which came as a result of securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
“We haven’t had a bye week since early in the season,” LaFleur said. “And then it was only a couple of weeks after that we had our Thursday night game, which usually affords people a little bit more rest. It’s been a long grind, as it is every year, but I think our guys take advantage of these opportunities.”
Welcome back, fans (sort of)
For Packers players, a dose of fun is about to be injected back into the Lambeau Field experience.
The Packers will open their gates to 6,000 fans during next week's NFC divisional round playoff game. There has not yet been a determination on how many fans would be allowed to attend a potential NFC championship game at Lambeau Field the following week. The 6,000 fans are a significant increase from the few hundred health care workers, team security personnel and their families the team hosted during games late in the regular season.
In a stadium that seats more than 80,000 people at full capacity, 6,000 is far from full effect. Running back Jamaal Williams said he hopes fans are closer to the field, especially in the end zone, allowing him to interact with them more during pregame and before kickoff returns.
"It's still fun to play football," Williams said, "but I feel like the excitement and some of the fun has been taken out just because I feel like that's what brings everybody together, is the fans and the players, is the sport of football. So I feel like that's just something that we miss, and you can really feel it in the stadium sometimes. We just love to have the fans there, and just be out there making noise.
"So it just shows a different view for us to see how quiet it could be and everything, you can hear literally everything. So it's just fun to be out there. Grateful to be out there. But at the same time, we do miss the fans."
Coach Matt LaFleur said there were "tough decisions" made before increasing the crowd size for playoff games, starting with public safety. The team did not want to overextend exposure to COVID-19 during the middle of a pandemic. The reason Lambeau Field hosted fans late in the season was to test their coronavirus protocols. It was only after reviewing the protocols enforced in those games that the team decided increasing the crowd to 6,000 fans would be safe.
Even though it's a small increment, LaFleur said he hopes an influx of fans will increase the benefit of a home-field advantage.
"We're really excited about that," LaFleur said. "We're definitely going to feed off that energy. So if anybody is coming to the game, make sure you're nice and loud for us."