Green Bay, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol, leaving the NFL’s hottest team without an MVP.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Wednesday that Rodgers was in protocol, but would not say whether Rodgers had tested positive nor whether Rodgers has been vaccinated. LaFleur admitted that Rodgers will not be available on Sunday when the Packers (7-1) put their seven-game winning streak on the line at Kansas City (4-4).
“It was just crazy, man,” said Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clarke. “Got that next-man-up mentality. He’s the leader of our team, so yeah, it was just crazy news.”
NFL officials are planning to review how the Packers have handled COVID-19 related protocols.
“Each club has the primary responsibility for enforcing the COVID protocol within club facilities,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “Failure to properly implement the protocol has resulted in an assessment of discipline against individual clubs in the past. The league is aware of the current situation in Green Bay and will review it with the Packers.
Before the NFL released its statement, LaFleur defended the way the Packers followed health protocols within their facility.
“I see what these people do,” LaFleur said. “You know, I can only speak to our football space, but yes, absolutely. We have cameras everywhere. I think our guys do an excellent job with it. And that’s just unfortunate. Not so. That this thing cannot happen to anyone. It has happened to many people outside this building.”
LaFleur didn’t estimate how long Rodgers might be out.
Rodgers isn’t the only Packers player to deal with the coronavirus recently. Wide receivers Davante Adams, a 2020 All-Pro, and Alan Lazard missed last week’s win in Arizona due to COVID-19 protocols. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry tested positive last week and the Cardinals also missed the game. Barry and Adams can return to practice on Thursday.
The Packers placed Rodgers and cornerback Isaac Yeiadom on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday.
“It’s going around, and it happens,” said Aaron Jones, running back. “I have got COVID. Several other people in the locker room have got COVID. It’s just unfortunate.”
Green Bay’s backup quarterback is 2020 first round draft pick Jordan Love, who has thrown seven passes in his short career. Third-stringer Kurt Benkert is in the practice squad but was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Tuesday.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars starter Blake Bortles, who spent time with the Packers during training camp, flew to Green Bay on Wednesday to join the team’s practice squad. He is expected to join the 53-man roster at the end of the week and serve as Love’s backup against the Chiefs.
Love’s only regular season game came when he played the fourth quarter of a 38–3 season opening loss to New Orleans, and took three knees at the end of a 35–17 win over Detroit. LaFleur said that Love has been working primarily with the Scout team since the beginning of the season.
LaFleur says he liked the way Love reacted to the prospect of starting Sunday’s game.
“We talk about that no-Flench mentality and I didn’t see any flack in that,” LaFleur said. “I think he is excited about this opportunity. I think he will prepare properly and give everything that he has.”
Love will try to lead his team to victory early in his career, something that both Cooper Rush of Dallas and Mike White of the New York Jets did last Sunday. Head coach Andy Reid mentioned this on Wednesday.
“You saw it last weekend,” Reid said. “Two quarterbacks came in who didn’t have a chance to play much, if at all, and won the game. So, our guys know about it. Get yourself ready to play.”
Vaccinated players who test positive are allowed to return after having two negative tests, which are kept at least 24 hours apart. Non-vaccinated players who test positive are put in isolation for at least 10 days.
Rodgers was asked in an August 26 media session whether he had been vaccinated.
“Yeah, I’m immunized,” replied Rodgers. “You know, around it, around the league, and there’s a lot of people who have made statements and haven’t made statements, owners have made statements. There are people on the team who haven’t been vaccinated. I think it’s It’s a personal decision. I’m not going to judge those. There are people who have been vaccinated who have contracted COVID. It’s an interesting issue that I think we’re going to see the whole season play out Huh. “
LaFleur would not comment on Rodgers’ August 26 use of “immunized” and could see it as misleading if the quarterback was not vaccinated.
“That’s a good question for Aaron,” LaFleur said. “I’m not going to comment on this.”
Jones, whose father died of complications from COVID-19 on April 6, declined to comment on the status of Rodgers’ vaccinations. But the 2020 Pro Bowl ran back, saying it wouldn’t consider it selfish if a teammate chose to get vaccinated.
“I don’t think it’s a selfish decision,” Jones said. “I mean, there are people in the league who haven’t been vaccinated. And to say that they’re not committed to their team, I think it’s not true. He’s our leader … He’s the leader of this team. 100% committed to you, just like anyone else in this locker room.”
Green Bay owns a 3 1/2-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings (3-4) in the NFC North, giving the Packers a good cushion as they deal with their quarterback’s absence.
AP Sports Writer Dave Skreta contributed to this report.
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