Green Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers Is in COVID-19 Protocol
(GREEN BAY, Wis.) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol, leaving the NFL’s hottest team without the reigning MVP.
Matt LaFleur of the Packers confirmed that Rodgers was included in the protocol on Wednesday, though he wouldn’t say whether Rodgers had been tested positive or if Rodgers hadn’t been vaccinated. LaFleur acknowledged that Rodgers won’t be available 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,” Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark said. “Got to have that next-man-up mentality. That’s the leader of our team, so yeah, it was just crazy news.”
NFL officials will review the way that Packers dealt with COVID-19 protocols.
“The primary responsibility for enforcement of the COVID protocols within club facilities rests with each club,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “Failure to properly enforce the protocols has resulted in discipline being assessed against individual clubs in the past. The league is aware of the current situation in Green Bay and will be reviewing with the Packers.”
LaFleur, who was speaking before the NFL released its statement, defended how the Packers followed their health protocol within the facility.
“I watch what these guys do,” LaFleur said. “You know, I can only speak to our football space, but yeah, absolutely. We’ve got cameras everywhere. Our guys are great at it. And it’s just unfortunate. It’s not like this thing can’t happen to anybody. It’s happened to a lot of people outside of this building.”
LaFleur didn’t speculate on 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 Allen Lazard missed last week’s victory at Arizona because of COVID-19 protocols. Joe Barry, the defensive coordinator, was also positive and missed last week’s Cardinals game. Barry and Adams might be back in practice for Thursday.
Rodgers, cornerback Isaac Yiadom were placed on Wednesday by the Packers’ reserve/COVID-19 roster.
“It’s going around, and it happens,” running back Aaron Jones said. “I’ve had COVID. Numerous others have 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. Kurt Benkert, third-stringer, is currently on the practice squad. However, he was added to 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 get moved up to the 53-man roster later in the week and serve as Love’s backup against the Chiefs.
Love’s lone regular-season game appearances came when he played the fourth quarter of a 38-3 season-opening loss to New Orleans, and took three kneel-downs at the end of a 35-17 victory over Detroit. LaFleur indicated that Love had been working exclusively with the Scout team since the beginning.
LaFleur says he liked the way Love responded to the likelihood of starting Sunday’s game.
“We talk about having that no-flinch mentality and I didn’t see any flinch in him,” LaFleur said. “I think he’s excited about the opportunity. I think he’ll prepare the right way and give it everything he has.”
Love will try to lead his team to victory in his first career start, something Dallas’ Cooper Rush and the New York Jets’ Mike White both did last Sunday. Andy Reid, Chiefs’ coach was quick to highlight this Wednesday.
“You just watched this last weekend,” Reid said. “Two quarterbacks came in that hadn’t had an opportunity to play much, if at all, and won games. Our guys know that. You get yourself ready to play.”
Positively vaccinated players are permitted to return once they’ve had two positive tests. These must be taken within 24 hours. Positive players are kept isolated from other unvaccinated for at least 10 consecutive days.
Rodgers was interviewed at a media conference on Aug. 26, asking if he’d been immunized.
“Yeah, I’ve been immunized,” Rodgers replied. “You know, there’s a lot of conversation around it, around the league, and a lot of guys who have made statements and not made statements, owners who have made statements. There’s guys on the team that haven’t been vaccinated. I think it’s a personal decision. I’m not going to judge those guys. There are guys that’ve been vaccinated that have contracted COVID. It’s an interesting issue that I think we’re going to see played out the entire season.”
LaFleur would not comment on Rodgers’ Aug. 26 use of the “immunized” and if it might be seen as misleading if the quarterback was unvaccinated.
“That’s a great question for Aaron,” LaFleur said. “I’m not going to comment on it.”
Jones, whose father died April 6 of complications from COVID-19, declined comment on Rodgers’ vaccination status. But the 2020 Pro Bowl running back added he wouldn’t consider it selfish if a teammate opted against getting vaccinated.
“I don’t think it’s a selfish decision,” Jones said. “I mean, there’s guys across the league who are not vaccinated. And to say that they’re not committed to their team, I think that that’s not true. He’s our leader … he’s 100% committed to this team, just like anybody else is 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 nice cushion as they deal with their quarterback’s absence.
This report was contributed by Dave Skretta, AP Sports Editor.