Three Injured Packers Stars ���Potentially��� Could Practice This Week

Getty Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers runs off the field after defeating the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Green Bay Packers could potentially have to face the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day without one of their top receiving weapons.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst placed fourth-year wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, December 21. If he is unvaccinated, he will miss the game against the Browns, but he will have the opportunity to test out of the league’s COVID-19 protocol if he is vaccinated. He would need to test negative twice 24 hours apart and show no symptoms in the next four days, though.

Valdes-Scantling, 27, is coming off one of his best games of the year after catching a season-high five passes for 98 yards and a touchdown in Week 15’s win over the Baltimore Ravens. He has also continued to maintain his reputation as one of the NFL’s top deep-threat receivers with 17.1 yards per reception — behind only Deebo Samuel (17.8) and Donovan Peoples-Jones (17.7) among wideouts with at least 25 catches.

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While the Packers survived without Valdes-Scantling in the lineup for a five-game stretch in the first half of the season, they are also currently without Randall Cobb (core muscle), Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion) and Malik Taylor (shoulder) due to injuries. St. Brown returned for Tuesday’s first practice of the week in a limited capacity, but Cobb remains stuck on injured reserve and Taylor did not participate.

Valdes-Scantling is now the second Packers player in the last week to be placed on the COVID-19 reserve list, joining star defensive tackle Kenny Clark.

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Packers Add Several Names to Injury Report

The Packers also made several additions to their injury report following Tuesday’s first practice of Week 16. Backup inside linebacker and core special teamer Ty Summers did not participate in any capacity due to a new hamstring injury, while tight end Josiah Deguara (back) and rookie wide receiver Amari Rodgers (shoulder) were both added to the report with new ailments as well — though, both were full participants on Tuesday.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur also shared he does not expect any of the team’s three injured All-Pros — David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith — will be available against the Browns on Saturday. Bakhtiari and Alexander have both been practicing for at least a week, but Smith is not quite at that point yet.

Billy Turner — who suffered a knee injury in Week 14 against Chicago — also still remains sidelined. LaFleur had previously said he expects he will not have to miss the rest of the 2021 season with the injury, but no further updates have been reported.

More Opportunities Coming for Juwann Winfree?

If MVS is unable to clear protocol in time for Saturday’s game, the Packers’ receiver rotation could be down to Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers and Juwann Winfree against the Browns. St. Brown could also be back given his return to practice on Tuesday suggests he is close to clearing concussion protocol, but the game plan seems likely to change without their fastest pass-catcher out on the field.

Perhaps, that could mean more opportunities for the recently promoted Winfree.

A former 2019 sixth-round pick for the Denver Broncos, Winfree was signed up from the practice squad on December 14, but his debut as a full-time member of the active roster might have been missed if you blinked. He was targetted just one time against the Ravens with Aaron Rodgers showing more love to tight ends Deguara and Marcedes Lewis than either Winfree or the rookie Rodgers.

Winfree showed he was capable of taking on a bigger role in Week 8 against Arizona when he caught four of six targets for 30 yards as a practice-squad elevation, but the Packers were missing their top three receivers in that matchup and won’t be near as depleted against the Browns, even if MVS is unavailable. The status of St. Brown — who has more rapport with Rodgers — could also determine whether Winfree is given more attention in the game plan for Week 16.

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