GREEN BAY, Wis. — At least Jordan Love will have some help when he makes his first NFL start on Sunday for the Green Bay Packers.
Davante Adams, the team’s top receiver, returned to the team on Thursday after missing the past 10 days while on the reserve/COVID-19 list and should be available for this weekend’s game at the Kansas City Chiefs.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry was also cleared from the protocols and returned to the team after missing all of last week.
“It’s great to see those guys,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said before Thursday’s practice. “They were fired up to be back. It’s a huge benefit to this team.”
Adams missed last Thursday’s 24-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals after he tested positive on Oct. 25. A day later, fellow receiver Allen Lazard was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list because he was an unvaccinated close contact. Lazard returned to the team on Monday.
Both should be available on Sunday, and there’s a chance that fellow receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling could return off injured reserve. He has missed the past five games because of a hamstring injury.
Adams also missed Wednesday’s practice because he wasn’t cleared yet. That was the first day that Love worked as the starter following the news that unvaccinated Aaron Rodgers tested positive, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and is out for Sunday’s game.
Adams leads the Packers with 52 catches and 744 yards with three touchdowns. He ranks third in the NFL in catches and fourth in receiving yards despite missing last week’s game. He has been especially good on the road, with 32 catches for 483 yards in four games, leading the NFL in both categories.
Some of that could be contributed to Adams’ connection with Rodgers. But Adams was one of the few receivers who maintained his production when Rodgers was out because of a broken collarbone in 2017. With Brett Hundley at quarterback, Adams caught 41 passes for 489 yards and four touchdowns in seven games.
As the Packers (7-1) continued preparations without Rodgers, the NFL has begun its investigation into whether the Packers followed all COVID-19 protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated players.
“As far as the football space is concerned,” LaFleur said, pointing to the doorway that leads out of the media auditorium, “I’m 100% confident.”
Even if Rodgers and other unvaccinated players followed protocols in the locker room, meeting rooms and practice fields, conducted his news conferences without a mask. The Packers’ other unvaccinated players all held media sessions via Zoom. Rodgers was adamant about doing his in the auditorium unmasked.
“I said within our football space,” LaFleur said when asked about the media room. “Meeting rooms, walk-through, everything we do in that area. I don’t pay attention to the media rules.”
There are also questions about whether Rodgers followed protocols for unvaccinated players by gathering with groups of teammates outside of the building. Such players cannot gather in a group of more than three players, coaches and other members of the football operation staff.