The Sunday game between the Green Bay Packers and the visiting Oakland Raiders could be decided by which quarterback can make the most out of his suspect receivers corps.
The Packers beat the Detroit Lions on Monday night with star receiver Davante Adams (turf toe) inactive, Geronimo Allison (concussion and chest) lost for most of the second half and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle and knee) at less than full speed after being doubled backward in the first half.
Aaron Rodgers made it work anyway. Green Bay trailed 22-13 when it got the ball with 12:17 remaining in the fourth quarter. Rodgers drove the Packers to a touchdown and the game-winning field goal by throwing for 147 of his 283 yards during those final two possessions.
Adams did say he’s getting closer. While that won’t help Green Bay this week, it’s a positive in Packerland.
“It’s a million times better,” Adams said of his toe injury. “I’m able to do a lot more movement in it, more range of motion. That’s the type of stuff that I need. It’s a good sign for me to get back.”
Adams is officially out Sunday while Allison, Valdes-Scantling and tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) are still possible to play. Graham indicated he’ll be ready to go, but it’s feasible Rodgers, who was limited last week but showed no signs of any knee issues Monday night, will take the field for Week 7 minus his top three outside targets.
“It’s always a next-man-up mentality, so I mean it’s not going to change now,” Adams said. “Having us three down right now is tough and it’s putting the team in a tough situation, but I mean, it’s next man up. We’ve got other guys who are extremely capable so they just gotta rise to the occasion.”
The Raiders, who are coming off their bye after beating the Chicago Bears in London, have gotten just 37 receptions from their entire receiver corps. Derek Carr has made it work, too. He leads the NFL with a 73.3 completion percentage.
Tight end Darren Waller, who was on Baltimore’s practice squad at this time last year, has as many receptions (37) as all of Oakland’s receivers combined. One of the team’s starting receivers, Tyrell Williams, has a foot injury and did not practice on Wednesday. He has four of the Raiders’ six touchdown catches.
The Packers (5-1) are riding high atop the NFC North, due in part to a home-heavy schedule. This will be their fifth home game in seven weeks. After Sunday, they will play just one home game in a span of six weeks.
The Raiders (3-2) don’t want to hear about scheduling quirks.
After playing at Minnesota and at Indianapolis to end September, they had a “home” game against Chicago in England. Following a bye last week, the Raiders are back on the road with games at Green Bay and at Houston. Then they will finally get back to Oakland for home games against the Lions, Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals.
“I know you guys have your fifth home game already. I’m jealous,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of the Packers. “We’re in the middle of one of the greatest road trips in the history of football. I’d like to thank everybody for making this possible.”
The Raiders won a preseason game between the teams in Winnipeg. One of Green Bay’s quarterbacks that night, DeShone Kizer, is the Raiders’ No. 3 quarterback. Green Bay’s offensive star in that game, Trevor Davis, is a starting receiver and returner for the Raiders.
Meanwhile, the Packers added to their receiver corps on Wednesday by signing Ryan Grant, who had four catches in two games with the Raiders before being released after the Davis trade. He might be pressed into duty on Sunday. Had the Packers practiced on Wednesday, Adams, Valdes-Scantling and Allison would have been unavailable.
The injuries mean a bigger opportunity for one of last week’s heroes. Allen Lazard, who spent most of last season on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad and the start of this season on Green Bay’s practice squad, was summoned from the bench during the rally and provided four catches, including a 35-yard touchdown.
“I think that’s a fair question,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said when asked why Lazard hadn’t played earlier. “He went out there and he performed really well. Hindsight’s 20-20, but I’m just excited for where he could go. He’s got to now.
“Anybody can do it one time, but now you’ve got to do it each and every time. That’s the expectation. I’m excited to see him put together back to back to back and see where it goes.”
—Field Level Media