Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling placed on reserve/COVID 19 list
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers may be without wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling on Saturday against Cleveland after he was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced Tuesday.
Valdes-Scantling is vaccinated, so for him to be tested under the latest NFL COVID-19 protocols, he would have had to report symptoms or be part of random group of players selected for testing in a particular week. Unvaccinated players are tested every day but starting Monday vaccinated players only need to be tested when exhibiting symptoms or if randomly chosen.
If Valdes-Scantling does not have symptoms, his chances of playing Saturday are much better. He would only need to have a negative test before the game. If he is having symptoms, then he would have to go 24 hours without and have a negative test.
Valdes-Scantling joins nose tackle Kenny Clark as the two Packers players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Clark missed the game against the Ravens but has a chance to return this week.
In a 31-30 victory over Baltimore on Sunday, Valdes-Scantling caught five passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Valdes-Scantling played a crucial role in the game after the Ravens devoted regular double teams to receiver Davante Adams, who led all Packers receivers with six catches but managed just 44 yards. Valdes-Scantling caught Rodgers’ franchise record-tying 442nd touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to give the team a 31-17 lead.
Since coming back from a hamstring injury that cost him five games, Valdes-Scantling has 19 catches for 351 yards (18.4 average) and two touchdowns.
If he can’t play Saturday, the Packers could be down as many as four receivers. Randall Cobb (core muscle) is on injured reserve, Malik Taylor (shoulder) was listed as did-not-participate on the injury report and Equanimeous St. Brown is recovering from a concussion.
Rookie Amari Rodgers suffered a shoulder injury against the Ravens, but he was listed as a full participant on the injury report.
The Packers still have Adams, Allen Lazard and Juwann Winfree and have the option of elevating rookie Chris Blair and third-year pro Josh Malone from the practice squad.
Packers pass on practicing on usual day off
There has been nothing ordinary about the last week or so of the NFL season and so Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur had no problem doing something different Tuesday.
After meeting with his leadership council Tuesday, LaFleur canceled practice and let the players go home early.
Tuesday usually is the players’ day off when their next game is on Sunday. But with their game against Cleveland being one of two scheduled to play on Christmas Day, their schedule was moved forward a day, making Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the three main practice days this week.
The Browns had their game against Las Vegas moved from Saturday to Monday because of a COVID-19 breakout that devastated their roster. The Browns had 22 players plus coach Kevin Stefanski on the reserve/COVID-19 list when the league delayed the game and were without 21 when the game kicked off.
As a result of the game being moved, the Browns have five days to prepare for the Packers.
Thus far, no one with the league has hinted that Saturday’s game could be pushed back if the Browns' COVID-19 numbers stay high, but LaFleur has not been told the game won’t be moved under any circumstances.
“I'm not anticipating it being moved, but we have not had that communication,” LaFleur said.
After a road victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and a day off Monday, LaFleur planned on having a late afternoon practice Tuesday. He said the team came out of the game in fairly good shape, but the message he got from veterans was that everyone could use a little break.
“I felt like we came out, for the most part, pretty clean,” LaFleur said. “As far as this week’s schedule, we actually adjusted it this morning. Talking to some of the leadership on this team, what we did was we got the guys out a little bit early today. We still did our installs, but got them out early, just to help them recover and come back in fresh tomorrow.”
LaFleur has used walk-throughs on Wednesday several times this season when he thought the team might be dragging, but not practicing at all is different.
“We'll basically do two jog-through practices,” he said of Wednesday. “We'll hit one right away early in the morning and then we'll get the second one in the afternoon. And that's just what we felt was best for our team.
“And ultimately, I trust these guys. When they come to me with something, I can usually take everything they say and make a really sound decision based on the best interests of our team. And so that's how we're going to operate this week.”
Injury status for David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander, Za'Darius Smith
LaFleur said he did not anticipate left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) or cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) playing against the Browns.
Both have been practicing in a limited fashion, but on the Tuesday estimated injury report, Bakhtiari was listed as did-not-participate. LaFleur was not asked about Bakhtiari during his Tuesday news conference so it's unclear why he wouldn't have practiced.
Bakhtiari is on the 53-man roster and can return when ready but Alexander is on injured reserve and the team must make a final decision on whether to return him to the 53 no later than Dec. 29.
LaFleur also said that outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (back) was not ready to begin practicing.
Additions to the injury report included linebacker Ty Summers (hamstring), who was listed as did-not-participate. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (toe) and tackle Billy Turner (knee) were also listed as did-not-participate.