Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams, defensive coordinator Joe Barry test positive for COVID-19, will likely miss Arizona game
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers’ short week just got a lot more difficult.
With just three days to prepare for a Thursday night game at the 7-0 Arizona Cardinals, the Packers learned that wide receiver Davante Adams and defensive coordinator Joe Barry likely won’t be available because of COVID-19-related issues.
About six hours after NFL Network reported Barry had tested positive, the Packers announced that Adams was being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Teams are not allowed to report whether a player has tested positive, but Adams has said publicly that he has been vaccinated and vaccinated players only land on the list if they test positive.
Those who test positive can return to action after passing two consecutive tests 24 hours apart provided they have no symptoms. Based on previous cases with the Packers and in the NFL, it seems unlikely that either Adams or Barry will be available Thursday night.
Speaking before the Adams' news was released, LaFleur said he was preparing not to have Barry.
"He is vaccinated, so if he gets two consecutive tests, two days in a row where he tests negative, then yeah, that is a possibility," LaFleur said. "But I'm not going to hold my breath on that."
He undoubtedly would have said the same for Adams. The Packers have had two players land on the COVID-19 list during the regular season — nose tackle Tyler Lancaster and receiver Malik Taylor. Lancaster went on the list Sept. 28 and returned Oct. 9. Taylor went on the list Oct. 15 and is still on it.
LaFleur said the NFL had placed the Packers in "advanced COVID-19 protocol," which means the coaches had to meet virtually Monday and that all members of the organization, including those vaccinated, will have to wear masks indoors and social distance.
Everyone will be tested daily as well.
At the same time the Packers were finding out they'd be without two key members of the organization, the Cardinals activated starting linebacker Chandler Jones and starting end Zach Allen from the COVID-19 reserve list. They are also expected to get backup defensive lineman Corey Peters back from the list Wednesday.
Losing Adams would be a huge blow for the 6-1 Packers, who are riding a six-game winning streak heading into their toughest game of the season.
Adams ranks tied for second in the NFL with 52 receptions, third in receiving yards with 744 and second in receiving first downs with 35. He has accounted for one-third of the team's receptions this year and was on pace for the best season of his career.
The Packers have won games without Adams in the past, but 45% of the team's receiving yards belong to him and no other receiver on the roster would be considered a No. 1 on any other team.
LaFleur said No. 2 Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) was getting closer to returning from injured reserve, but the speedy receiver has not practiced in a month and won't get much work with the team this week because LaFleur is limiting practice time to two walk-throughs Tuesday.
The coaches could have Valdes-Scantling run routes against practice squad players if they were serious about getting him ready to play.
"Yeah, absolutely," LaFleur said when asked if there was a chance Valdes-Scantling could return Thursday. "There's hope for that. But we'll see. I know, he's out there running today. And we'll see how he's feeling come tomorrow."
It's possible LaFleur was sounding overly optimistic to make the Cardinals prepare for Valdes-Scantling and if he were to return, it's questionable how effective he would be after missing a month of games and practices.
Adams might not be the last player the Packers send to the COVID-19 list. LaFleur will be holding his breath each morning waiting for the test results. Since all players are being tested daily under the protocol, he won't know who is in the clear until game day.
The same goes for coaches.
LaFleur said that game-planning meetings were done virtually Monday and position coaches were told that any contact they had with players had to be virtual as well. Players were allowed to work out in the facility Monday, but the full team isn't required to come in until Tuesday.
"When we get the players back in the building, we will be able to operate pretty much the same way," LaFleur said. "it's just we're gonna all have to be masked up and making sure that we keep our distance from one another.
"And luckily, we have great facilities here that provide us with the space that we need, in order to get everything done that we'd like to get done."
The Packers only have a handful of players who are not vaccinated, so they don't have to worry about close contacts being placed in quarantine. Those not vaccinated who were deemed close contacts to either Barry or Adams would be quarantined for a minimum of five days even if they test negative.
LaFleur said in his afternoon news conference Monday, before Adams was added to the COVID-19 list, that they were awaiting more information on possible positive tests. Players who are vaccinated get tested once a week and players who aren't vaccinated get tested every day.
Sources have said the entire Packers coaching staff is vaccinated, which means any other member of the staff won’t have to sit out the mandatory 10 days if they test positive.
Barry will be able to take part in planning for the game through video conferencing and given that LaFleur only has walk-through type practices planned for this week, he won’t miss much on-field time.
However, LaFleur will have to appoint someone to call plays Thursday night.
The most logical person is passing game coordinator Jerry Gray, who was a defensive coordinator with Buffalo (2001-05) and Tennessee (2011-13) and has plenty of experience calling plays. Gray was one of the coaches LaFleur interviewed for the coordinator’s position before hiring Barry this past offseason.
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"That's something that we're kind of working through right now," LaFleur said. "I think, regardless of how we do it, it'll be a collective effort with everybody involved and having an input.
"But certainly, you feel confident with a guy like Jerry who's called it before and has had a top five defense in this league. So, we definitely have people that we feel that are capable of getting the job done."
Barry is the second Packers assistant coach to test positive this year, joining defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, who missed a week of practice and the Detroit game in Week 2.