With Davante Adams Out, Who Will Step Up for the Packers?

The Green Bay Packers have one of the NFL’s best receivers in Davante Adams, if not the best. But Adams is presently on the Covid-19 reserve list and is unlikely to play this week in Arizona.

Adams has missed six games since 2019 with an assortment of injuries. The Packers have exceled in those games, winning all six including several against quality opponents. In each of those games, another offensive player has stepped up and helped pick up the slack created due to Adams’ absence.

“We’re not a better team without him, that’s for sure,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters on Tuesday. “I’d have to look at each of those games, but we’ve just found a way in those games.”

The first game in 2019 that Adams missed was a 34-24 road win in Dallas. In that contest, Aaron Jones stepped up. He ran for 107 yards and four touchdowns while also catching seven passes for 75 yards. The Packers were a plus-three in turnovers and held a 31-10 lead after three quarters before winning the game 34-24.

The following week, the Packers scored a 23-22 comeback win over the Lions. In this game, Jamaal Williams gained 104 yards rushing and 136 total yards to help pace the offense. Allen Lazard saw his first substantial action on offense in this game starting in the second half. Lazard finished with four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. He had two catches on the drive that led to Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal on the final play.

The next game the Packers played without Adams was a 42-24 win over the Raiders at Lambeau Field. Rodgers threw five touchdown passes in that game and had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a big game ending with 133 receiving yards including a 74-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers.

The following week, the Packers took on the Chiefs in Kansas City and won 31-24. In this game, Jones stepped up and became the focal point of the passing game catching seven passes for a career-high 159 yards and two touchdown catches. Rodgers threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns.

Last season, Adams was injured in Week 2 against the Lions and missed the next two games. In New Orleans, it was Lazard who stepped up and made up for the absence of Adams. He caught six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, a career best performance for the former Iowa State star. The Packers beat the Saints 37-30.

A week later, it was tight end Robert Tonyan who stepped up in the Packers 30-16 win over Atlanta. Tonyan had six catches for 98 yards and three touchdowns in this game while Rodgers threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns.

This week’s game without Adams will present a different kind of challenge. Lazard is also on the Covid-19 reserve list and won’t be available to face the Cardinals. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been on the injured reserve with a hamstring injury and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready to return Thursday and if he does, how effective he will be coming off the injury. He is traveling with the team to Arizona but his status for the game is still unclear.

There are other receivers who are candidates to step up and have a big game against Arizona. Randall Cobb is an experienced veteran who has the trust of his quarterback. He is most effective from the slot and working the middle of the field. His best game this season was a five catch, and two-touchdown performance in the Packers 27-17 win against Pittsburgh. Cobb would be the top candidate to step up among the receivers.

This game could also be a big opportunity for Equanimeous St. Brown. The Notre Dame alum started the season on the practice squad but has since been moved up to the active roster after being elevated for several games earlier in the season. He has one catch for no gain and one run on a jet sweep for 13 yards.

EQ has the size to take on Lazard’s role. He is not as strong a blocker as Lazard but he is more of a downfield threat. He has the tools to be successful in this league but has yet to consistently do the little things that could keep him in the lineup. This will be a big chance for him to show what he can do.

Another Packers receiver who will get a chance to see the field more this week is rookie Amari Rodgers. Most of his action thus far this year has come on special teams. In fact, through the team’s first seven games, Rodgers has been on the field for only 39 offensive snaps or an average of 5.6-plays per game. Expect that number to go up Thursday night in Arizona.

The Packers running backs should also be more involved in the passing game. Both Jones and A.J. Dillon has demonstrated the skills needed to make plays after catching the ball downfield. Jones has stepped up several times when Adams was injured and he will almost certainly have a larger role again this week.

The Cardinals are one of the league’s best teams at covering tight ends this season. That may mean that Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis will struggle to have a big day in Adams’ absence although they could still play a larger role in the red zone.

The Packers are clearly a better team with Adams on the field. But they have proven in the past that they can overcome the loss of their number one receiver for a few games. Tonight, in Arizona, they will have their work cut out for them, but don’t count them out, either.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (24)

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dobber's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:15 pm

This is a running back game...behind an OL that needs to step up. Aaron Jones is paid to be a high-end RB. He's got to bring it tonight.

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GilMartin's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:17 pm

He will be the centerpiece of the offense for the Packers tonight in both the running and passing game. Thanks for the comment, dobber.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 28, 2021 at 01:03 pm

I have a feeling Hill will get the most snaps of his young career tonight. I see AJD getting heavily involved in the pass game too. AJ will run early and often and be the go to receiver. The way to beat the AZ sublime pass D is pound the rock then keep them honest with quick short passes and screens to open up shots downfield.

Is MVS likely to be activated?

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Coldworld's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:43 pm

While it may be running back driven, that’s really hard if we don’t also threaten pass. I’m looking to see something of Hill and maybe Rodgers in the air and ground attack and I’m looking for Taylor and Winfree to get legitimate routes and targets.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:55 pm

I expect Steno and Butkus have been feeding their OL room 10 penny nails since Sunday telling them "If you win, we win...now have another nail sub sandwich!"

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 28, 2021 at 05:25 pm

Tonyan for a 100 yard game.

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dobber's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:16 pm

DOINK!

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Ya_tittle's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:22 pm

I have a feeling about this game.

Pack 27-20.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Pound the rock to create opportunities for the Air Force. Keeping the AZ O off the field with first downs and long scoring drives. Use heavy doses of 12 and 22 personnel against the 31st ranked Cardinal run D in yds/carry (dealt a huge blow losing one of their best run defenders in JJ Watt to season ending shoulder injury).

My intuition tells me Cobb will have a good game as well as ESB. I have been questioning ESBs "will do" effort. He has the "can do" in terms of size, speed, blocking ability (he has shown to be a very good downfield blocker). This could be a career saving game for ESB if his coaches and teammates have finally lit his fuse. He played with a purpose last Sunday. And Rodgers likes the kid...expect he will look ESBs way a lot.

It would also be opportune for A. Rodgers to get more snaps and opportunities. Malik and Winfree are wild cards with little video on them for AZ D to prepare. Both are fast and have great hands.

Glass half full!

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 28, 2021 at 03:23 pm

Winfree was a camp darling and Taylor looked dominant in the PS. One of them is going to have to show up big under the bright lights.

I don't have high hopes for EQ but he flashed in his rookie year. He needs to make the most of his opportunity.

All three are going to get bullied in the secondary - they have to run crisp routes, be where AR expects them to be, and come down with the ball when it comes their way.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:44 pm

I think we'll need to score over 30 to have a chance, and even then the defense will have to do an above average job to keep AZ under 35. And that although we're going to need contributions from everybody, Aaron and Aaron are going to have the ball in their hands on the vast majority of plays.

AZ is good enough without us helping them. Rodgers, of course, is the best ever at protecting the rock, but Jones has given cause for concern , and so has his backup, Dillon. If our RBs cannot hang onto it, then we're just screwed.

We'll probably have about 11 legit possessions, and if we can convert 5 of them in to TDs then we've got a chance. 27 or 30 points won't be enough, unless the defense really does a number. These guys like Tonyan and Cobb and Jones have proven they can get into the endzone.

As a poster said on another thread, "If you play smart and turnover free, anything can happen".

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If we wake up tomorrow and we're 6-2 at the halfway point, how many people are unhappy? The KC game looks more winnable than it did a little while ago, we're still undefeated at home and in the division. We should win 12 games and the Division. It could be a lot worse. I still believe if we can get our horses back we can stay on the field with anyone.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Gil, We will be limited in the receiving department and that is to be expected. Those who have to step up include the offensive line and the running backs. We also need a disciplined, yet aggressive, defense and essentially an error free game from the special teams.

Thus, we have the perfect storm for what football is...A Team Game and we need a team effort. Not only from an injured receiving corps, but from the TEAM, and that includes our coaches.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 28, 2021 at 01:02 pm

I wonder if the D has a bit of a different look with Coach Gray calling the game? Gray is a bit of a wild card and will present some unknowns for the AZ O.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 28, 2021 at 03:11 pm

Short answer, no. The racial change between the first and second game meant somebody else other than Barry was calling that game. Someone more understanding of the personnel than Barry who wasn't familiar was his defensive personnel. Now I do believe that Barry has been calling the defense, but the construction of the defense has been more of total coaching effort. Outside of being more aggressive in playing 3 DL and letting Clarke play at DT and Gary play more at the LOS there should not be any great change on defensive play calling. If the Packers secondary CB were healthy, then more man press and zero coverage might be called, but I expect mostly combo zone to keep the Birds WR in front. Of course there will be DL stunt work and ILB blitz, but Gray has to care not to open too many voids for their QB to run though. In short, injuries will limit Gray in how aggressive he is. (depending on how the offense plays of course)

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canadapacker's picture

October 28, 2021 at 03:50 pm

From last game to this game - it has been the offense that has been mostly hit by the injury /Covid bug. The other somewhat good thing is that Mercilus and Smith both have had an extra week to pick up the playbook /communication stuff. I would guess that Stokes is going to be on Hopkins who apparently is playing - how effectively with his injury is to be determined but he is probably going to be great on one leg. My biggest concern is leaving the middle open and letting their running backs get to the second level and letting Murray run around into the secondary if we dont have a spy or at least account for that because Heinke hurt us and Murray is Heinke on steroids. Finally on offense - I hope that Dafney is fully healed because with Dafney and Lewis in a 2 TE set we should be always able to get 3rd and 4th and one converted.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 28, 2021 at 02:04 pm

regrets....double post

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Tedlyflyfisher's picture

October 28, 2021 at 01:39 pm

NFL networked reported this morning that Juwan Winfree is being actived for the game.

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jhtobias's picture

October 28, 2021 at 02:30 pm

Sterling sharpe makes a comeback !

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 28, 2021 at 04:38 pm

That one isn't likely, but what about Jones? Anyone know if the radio crew always broadcasts from GB or if they've been traveling with the team?

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ricky's picture

October 28, 2021 at 04:23 pm

Rodgers has put a chip on his shoulder. Dillon is going to want to atone for the two fumbles last week. Jones didn't have a good game last week. Tonyan is finally getting the ball thrown his way, and is back to producing. Lewis is an awesome blocker and amazingly athletic at 37. It seems that someone finally lit a fire under ESB's butt, since he has been playing with some fire. The "other" Rodgers is going to want to show what he can do. Maybe he can replicate what Adams did against NE many years ago, in his rookie breakout game, before his sophomore broken down season (when everyone and their uncle wanted him gone). The defense finally showed they could stop someone in the red zone, and have to be tired of being embarrassed and blamed for being sub-par, Time for Aaron to tell everyone, "P-E-A-C-E O-U-T" or something. Time for a breakout game for the offense AND defense. Crush those Cardinals.

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Lphill's picture

October 28, 2021 at 06:14 pm

If the Packers defense comes to play I could see the Packers winning on a Crosby field goal in a back and forth game .

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nygary's picture

October 28, 2021 at 06:39 pm

Kevin King stars on defense. 2 ints and a touchdown. Oh wait he's not playing AGAIN. What a freaking waste of salary.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 28, 2021 at 06:57 pm

Absolutely the worst signing of the off-season.

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

October 28, 2021 at 06:53 pm

Nice to see the Packers activated Malik Taylor off the COVID list. Rodgers has had a connection with Taylor in the past. I look for Malik to make the big jump tonight.

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