Packers' Kenny Clark may miss Ravens game after being placed on COVID-19 list, but NFL's new rules leave open possibility of quick return
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers may be without their force in the middle of the defense Sunday when they travel to Baltimore, but updated NFL protocols leave open the chance nose tackle Kenny Clark could play.
Clark was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday after testing positive for the virus.
Since all of his press conferences this year have been done in public and without a mask, it has been presumed Clark is vaccinated. A source confirmed that he had been, so as of Thursday morning, the requirement for him to return would be two negative COVID tests 24 hours apart.
However, that changed later in the day.
The NFL released a memo in the afternoon that both tightened some of the protocols and loosened the requirements for returning to action. Under the new protocols, which the league said start immediately, Clark only has to pass one test to be cleared if he has no symptoms.
So, if he registered a negative test on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday and doesn't display COVID symptoms, he could play against the Ravens.
Clark is having the best season of his career and has been a focus for opposing offensive lines. He has played in 79% of the snaps this season and leads the defensive linemen with 41 tackles, four sacks and eight quarterback knockdowns.
The Packers have depth on the defensive line with Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Tyler Lancaster and rookie T.J. Slaton already in the rotation.
Should Clark be out, Slaton would probably see the biggest increase in snaps because his natural position is nose tackle and the coaches have been trusting him more in recent weeks. He has been playing mostly on run downs when the Packers use three defensive linemen and need a nose tackle, but with Clark out he will probably play as a defensive tackle some in the nickel and dime defenses.
"The other guys are going to have to step up and that's just the world we live in right now," LaFleur said in the morning before the league released its new memo. "You see it going on throughout the league. A lot of teams are facing the same issues. And the way I look at it is no different than when when you have an injury on game day.
"But at least you have some preparation time to get the guys the reps that they need. So obviously Slaton is going to play a big role in that. But all of those collectively as a group, our interior D-line are going to have to do a great job when you take a player like that, potentially off the field.
The Packers have been remarkably fortunate with the number of COVID losses they’ve had, considering the rash of infections across the NFL. Over the past two weeks, the only two players who have landed on the list are Clark and backup quarterback Jordan Love, who returned to practice Wednesday.
Just in the NFC North, the Chicago Bears have five players, the Detroit Lions six and the Minnesota Vikings three on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
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Across the league, 31 cases were reported Wednesday, raising the three-day total to more than 100. The Washington Football Team (21) and Cleveland Browns (18) had the most as of the end of the day Wednesday.
Numerous coaches have also been sidelined this week due to the virus, including Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski and all three Bears coordinators.
At least a half dozen teams are in “enhanced COVID protocol,” according to a report, but the Packers are not one of them. Testing will continue Friday and Saturday and so the numbers could go up with the Packers and the league.
Injury report: Aaron Jones the lone new addition to the injury list
Packers running back Aaron Jones was not present at practice because of an illness, according to the team's injury report.
Also missing practice was quarterback Aaron Rodgers (toe), receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion), tight end Dominique Dafney (ankle), tackle Billy Turner (knee), tight end Marcedes Lewis (rest day) and Clark.
The practice was conducted in pads and left tackle David Bakhtiari, who made his return to practice Wednesday, was in pads going through all the individual drills. Cornerback Jaire Alexander also took part in individual drills.
Two notable additions to the rehab group was center Josh Myers (knee) and receiver Randall Cobb (core muscle). Both did some jogging on the side with the training staff. Both are on injured reserve and it’s the first time they’ve been seen at practice since undergoing surgery.
St. Brown also did some running but is still in the concussion protocol.
The Ravens had six players who did not participate due to injury or illness, including quarterback Lamar Jackson (ankle) and left guard Ben Powers (foot), left tackle Alejandro Villenuea.
Baltimore game will be family affair for Adrian Amos
Adrian Amos is hoping to repeat history Sunday. The Packers safety is returning home, playing against the Ravens in the city and before the family that raised him. In 2017, while with the Chicago Bears, Amos nabbed his first NFL interception, picking off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and returning it 90-yards for a touchdown.
Sunday afternoon, Amos will look to do it again, this time against either Lamar Jackson or Tyler Huntley (the Ravens have yet to officially announce the status of their starter, Jackson).
“God willing, oh, hopefully, that'd be great, for sure,” Amos said Thursday.
Amos still watches replays of that play; or more aptly, he watches his “Grammie” watch the play.
“My Grammie, who just passed this past year, she was there…I still got the video of her reacting to it and when she watched it again.
“So for her to be able to see me in that game ... And it was her first NFL game, she got to see me play; that was a big time and with all my family there, everybody was there that game.”
Come Sunday, Amos’ family wants to pack the stadium yet again. But this time, the seventh-year player has some rules.
“People don't realize that we gotta buy (the tickets), too. So they just think, yeah, you just go to the away game, to another stadium and they'll give you as many tickets you want for the game … so unless you go through somebody else or something like that; but I don’t got time for that, I’m trying to play. I'm paying for you to support me. That don’t even make sense, does it?
“I got three sisters, a brother. I told them, I'll get all the old people tickets. All the old people get tickets. You know, my Nana, particular aunts … I'm partial to kids and over the age of, we'll see. I won't put (age).”
Whoever is there will get to see the safety who has 71 tackles plus two interceptions thus far this year and is up for Pro Bowl consideration And “God willing,” another pick-6.