With Davante Adams going on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, it is highly unlikely that he will play Thursday at Arizona. We would not know until Thursday if he will come off that list with him needing two straight negative tests 24 hour apart.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Packers also placed Allen Lazard on the reserve/COVID-19 list. This essentially rules out any scenario Lazard can bounce off that list and play Thursday.
This is a terrible time for COVID protocols to affect the Green Bay Packers. Going to Arizona on a short week is possibly the hardest scheduling break you could get right now in the NFL. So, who is going to have to step up with the absence of a superstar All-Pro wide receiver and one of your most reliable wide receivers? Let’s take a look.
A few times in a season, Aaron Jones will simply take over a game. We saw this happen in week 2 this season against the Lions. Another notable example was in 2019 against the Cowboys, a game in which the Packers were underdogs. Davante Adams was not playing in this game. Aaron Jones proceeded to lead Green Bay in rushing (107 yards) and receiving (75 yards), and had 4 touchdowns on the ground.
The Cardinals have a good, all-around defense and have been playing well lately. They are a top 5 defense based on yards per game. However, their run defense is giving up 115.7 yards per game, ranking 18th in the NFL.
Aaron Jones is still one of the best dual-threat running backs in the NFL and I would expect to see a heavy dose of him Thursday night. Along with AJ Dillon, the Packers should look to establish the run early, and then open the play-action game up with perfectly schemed plays for the receivers and tight ends. That is how they get those players not named Davante Adams open. Aaron Jones could be in for a monster game against the Cardinals.
After four-week stay the IR, Valdes-Scantling has hope to play Thursday night. MVS has not played since week 3. He sustained a hamstring injury in a solid performance (4 rec, 59 yards, TD) against the 49ers. Coming into this season, MVS looked much improved and sure-handed in training camp and earned the vote of confidence from Aaron Rodgers. Although not a star wide receiver, the Packers have confidence in his abilities and he is a dangerous deep threat against anybody. In 2020, Valdes-Scantling led the NFL in yards per catch with 20.9.
Deep passes and huge chunk plays are something that the Packers offense has been missing a bit this year. The absence of MVS was contributing to that. Matt LaFleur said the Packers have been missing his speed and the vertical element he brings to the table. Having a solidified deep threat can keep the Cardinals honest, and also opens up room for underneath patterns for guys like Aaron Jones, Randall Cobb, and Robert Tonyan to make plays. The Packers have until Thursday to activate MVS to the active roster for him to be eligible to play.
The Packers need Tonyan to get back to his 2020 form. Last week was encouraging for Big Bob, with an output of 4 receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. Tonyan is struggling mightily blocking this year, so you would like him to make some plays in the receiving game to balance that out. That is not going to be an easy task this week, with guys like Budda Baker and Isaiah Simmons who will be in coverage on Tonyan.
Tonyan has had to stay patient and wait for his opportunities this season. There are going to be multiple opportunities on Thursday night against Arizona, especially if the Packers can initially establish the run game. Green Bay is so much better when maximizing the dynamic that Tonyan brings to the field, as we saw in his 2020 breakout season. If this trend continues to go up for Big Bob, the offense can unlock another gear, and he can be a big-time player for the Packers on Thursday night.
Bottom Line: The Packers are 6-0 since 2019 when Davante Adams does not play. Give credit to Coach LaFleur, he has been elite in figuring out other mismatches and putting together great game plans to get the job done. Although the Packers will be without yet another star player on their team, there is no sympathy for injuries in this league. This is a game the Packers can win and it will keep them among the NFC’s elite teams which is a loaded group at the top.