GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers may not have their star wide receiver or their defensive coordinator for Thursday night’s showdown with the undefeated Arizona Cardinals after Davante Adams was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday afternoon and Joe Barry tested positive for the coronavirus.
A source confirmed that Adams also tested positive, although the team is not allowed to announce that information. Adams hasn’t been following the telltale protocols for unvaccinated players — he hasn’t worn a mask to Q&A sessions with reporters, hasn’t been required to wear a mask on the sideline when not in games and was wearing the wristband worn by vaccinated players in training camp, indicating that he is indeed vaccinated and contracted the virus.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said Barry also tested positive, with news of Barry’s positive test breaking on Monday morning.
In order for Adams to play against the Cardinals — or for Barry to coach against them for that matter — they would need two negative PCR COVID-19 tests that were done 24 hours apart.
The Packers already had wide receiver Malik Taylor on the COVID-19 list, having placed him on the reserve list on Oct. 15.
LaFleur acknowledged that the Packers have been placed in the NFL’s enhanced mitigation protocols, meaning that all coaches, players and staff — including those who are vaccinated — are required to wear masks at all times within the facility and undergo daily COVID-19 testing. The Chicago Bears, with head coach Matt Nagy having tested positive, are also in the enhanced mitigation protocols.
The Packers coaches held all their game-planning meetings virtually on Monday, one day after beating the Washington Football Team 24-10 at Lambeau Field for the team’s sixth consecutive victory.
“I think any time that you have any cases, you’re always a little bit concerned about that,” LaFleur said Monday afternoon, after the news of Barry’s positive test became public but before the team announced Adams’ placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
“But, the majority of our guys are vaccinated, so there’s a little bit different protocol with that. I don’t think in terms of (Barry) being at close contact with any of our players, I don’t think that’s a real concern of ours right now. But we’re still waiting to hear back from the league before we get clearance on anything.”
Adams, who caught six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win over Washington, has caught 52 passes for 744 yards this season, and the Packers’ offense has flowed through him all year. The team is 6-0 under LaFleur in games they played without him the past two years, with the 2019 team going 4-0 while Adams was sidelined with a toe injury and last year’s team winning both games Adams missed with a hamstring injury.
The Packers could get a boost from wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has missed the past four games with a hamstring injury. LaFleur expressed hope that Valdes-Scantling, the team’s best downfield deep-ball threat, could play against the Cardinals.
“Absolutely, there’s hope for that,” LaFleur said. “We’ll see. I know he was out there running today, and we’ll see how he’s feeling come tomorrow and as we progress throughout the week. I know he’s working hard. He wants to be out there. Certainly, we miss the element that he brings. I thought he was playing at a really high level before he went out.”
Assuming they’ll be without Barry, whose much-maligned defense has played well in spurts and ended its struggles in the red zone by stopping Washington four times inside the Green Bay 20-yard line on Sunday, LaFleur said the Packers will try to replace him collectively.
Still, someone will have to call the defensive plays, and defensive backs coach/defensive passing-game coordinator Jerry Gray, who has experience as a coordinator with the Buffalo Bills (2001 through ‘05) and Tennessee Titans (2011 through ‘13), would be the logical choice. Gray interviewed with LaFleur for the job before it went to Barry in January.
“That’s something that we’re kind of working through right now. I think regardless of how we do it, it’ll be a collective effort with everybody involved and having an input,” LaFleur said. “Certainly, you feel confident with a guy like Jerry, who’s called it before and has had a top-five defense in this league. So we definitely have people that we feel are capable of getting the job done.”
The NFL requires all coaches to be vaccinated, but obviously there have been breakthrough cases throughout the league this year. Earlier this season, defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the team’s Sept. 20 win over Detroit as a result.
“It’s just the way of the world right now,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said of the COVID-19 concerns that remain, even for vaccinated people. “I mean, anybody that walks out of their house, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, it’s something that’s out there. It’s scary and it’s unfortunate and a lot of people have been hurt by it.
“Everybody’s trying to understand that that could happen, and take precautions the way that they feel is best. None of us want it, none of us want to bring it in the building. None of our kids, none of our wives. But I’m a father and a husband, and I’m still going to see my kids, I’m still going to see my wife. So I think that it’s one of those things, you’ve got to be as careful as you possibly can, and understand this is something that, it’s not going away.”