Packers QB Aaron Rodgers 'definitely playing Sunday' despite missing practice

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GREEN BAY - If Aaron Rodgers regretted attending a Halloween party that led to fine for himself, his team and exposed him to a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, he wasn’t willing to say Wednesday. 

The Green Bay Packers three-time MVP quarterback also showed a loose feel for the science behind COVID-19 when answering whether he thought the team’s annual Halloween party might have been where he caught the virus that cost him to miss one game and 10 days away from football. 

“I don’t believe,” Rodgers said, “that’s where I contracted COVID, no. I tested negative that morning, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.” 

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is pressured by Seahawks safety Jamal Adams (33) during their game Sunday,

Rodgers was fined $14,650 for not wearing his mask during press conferences because they are inside team facilities, but also for violating the NFL’s protocols for COVID-19 by gathering outside team facilities in a group of more than three players despite being unvaccinated. The Packers were fined $300,000 in part for not reporting the violation. 

After testing positive for COVID-19 four days after the party, Rodgers was unavailable to play the following Sunday at the Kansas City Chiefs. He was ineligible to be cleared from the reserve/COVID-19 list until Saturday, one day before he lined up at quarterback against the Seattle Seahawks. 

Rodgers was among a handful of players who did not practice Wednesday, a lighter workday for the team. He missed practice because of a toe injury he played through Sunday. Rodgers said his toe will not be an issue for Sunday’s game at the Minnesota Vikings. 

“I’m definitely playing Sunday,” Rodgers said. “Today was a mental day, so I think there were a number of us who were either limited or DNPs. I was thankful to just get a day to do some rehab, and we’ll see how the week plays out practice-wise, but I’m definitely playing Sunday.” 

Injury report: David Bakhtiari out again

While Rodgers’ absence from Wednesday’s practice won’t affect his availability this week, it’s uncertain whether David Bakhtiari’s inability to practice for the second straight day might be problematic. 

Bakhtiari did not practice Wednesday after missing Friday’s practice last week. At the time, coach Matt LaFleur said his All-Pro left tackle did not have a setback from his ACL recovery. 

LaFleur indicated Bakhtiari might have a chance to return this week, though nothing was certain. 

“I sure hope so,” LaFleur said. “But it’s going to be a day-by-day process, and we’ll see where he’s at.” 

Receiver Davante Adams (shoulder), outside linebacker Rashan Gary (elbow), defensive lineman Kingsley Keke (concussion) and cornerback Kevin King (groin/shoulder) were all limited. Gary, who hyperextended his elbow Sunday, stretched with the team but did not participate in early practice periods, instead running wind sprints. 

LaFleur did not say what Gary’s timeline is to return, but he was pleased the injury was not worse. 

“We’ll take it on a daily basis and see where he’s at,” LaFleur said, “but certainly we hope to get him back sooner than later, and if it’s going out there with a brace, whatever it may be. Rashan and I were actually talking about how fortunate we were it’s not a major injury.” 

Running back Aaron Jones (torn MCL), receiver Allen Lazard (shoulder) and receiver Malik Taylor joined Rodgers and Bakhtiari was players who did not practice. 

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Cornerback Eric Stokes (knee/thumb), receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (ankle) and tight end Dominique Dafney (hamstring) were full participants. 

LaFleur said Bakhtiari’s eventual return only depended on when he was ready to play.  

“I don’t think the road necessarily has anything to do with that," LaFleur said of a possible return at Minnesota. It’s just going to be where he is physically, and have we gotten him ready to play.” 

RB rotation faces new challenge

For the first time this season, the Packers will enter a game with only one established running back available. 

A staple of their offense throughout the first 10 games was the use of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. The Packers have had 230 carries with their running backs this season. All but 10 went to Jones and Dillon. Jones’ 123 carries to Dillon’s 97 carries ensured both were fresh. 

Neither ranks inside the NFL’s top 10 in carries. 

With Jones expected to be out because of a torn MCL, the Packers will enter a game with only one established running back for the first time this season. Whether that means Dillon gets almost all the carries himself, or if the load is split with backup Patrick Taylor, LaFleur would not say. 

“Every game is different,” LaFleur said, “in terms of our game plan, how we want to go into it. Patrick Taylor has got to be ready to go, and then we’ll see where we’re at, at the end of the week in terms of how we use them and the rotation that we use.” 

If Taylor has a role in the offense’s game plan in Minnesota, it will be his first significant playing time this season. Taylor, who started this season on the team’s practice squad before being elevated to the active roster earlier this month, has two carries for 7 yards this season. Both came Sunday after Jones departed against the Seahawks with a torn MCL. 

Rodgers acknowledged Dillon will probably get more carries this week, but said he has confidence in Taylor based on what he’s seen in practice. 

“PT can handle a lot,” Rodgers said. “He’s been with us a while now, working on the scout team a bunch. Now he’s got an opportunity. I think he’s a smart kid. We didn’t worry about anything, throwing him in there late in the game, giving him a couple carries. He’s a tough runner, a good, one-cut back. I think he can do a lot in the pass game. 

“I’ve been watching him and J-Love on the look team all season. He makes a lot of plays in the backfield, and he’s got good hands, good route runner. So I think it’s a great opportunity for him.” 

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