Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in COVID-19 protocol, out Sunday

Coronavirus

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol and will miss Sunday’s game at Kansas City.

Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Wednesday that Rodgers was in the protocol, but would not say if Rodgers had tested positive nor if the reigning NFL MVP has been vaccinated.

“I’m not going to get into any of our coaches’ or players’ vaccination status,” LaFleur said..

LaFleur also didn’t speculate on how long Rodgers might be out.

“I just know that he won’t be available this week,” LaFleur said. “And we have a great opponent we’re going against, and then we’ll address next week when we get there.”

Rodgers is the latest Packers player to deal with the coronavirus. Wide receivers Davante Adams, a 2020 All-Pro, and Allen Lazard missed last week’s victory at Arizona because of COVID-19 protocols.

Green Bay’s backup quarterback is 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love, who has thrown seven passes in his short career.

The third-stringer, Kurt Benkert, is on the practice squad but was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Tuesday. That leaves Love as the lone available quarterback on Green Bay’s roster, at least for now.

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 said Love has been working primarily with the scout team since the start of the season.

“I said (to the team), ‘It’s a great challenge. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us and we all have to prepare to the best of our ability to go down there and get a win,’ “ LaFleur said. ”And that’s the mindset. They’re not going to postpone or cancel the game. We have a game to play and it’s a next-man up mentality and that’s how we’ve operated for everybody. I think our guys will rally around Jordan. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him and what a great opportunity for him to showcase what he can do.”

LaFleur said he had “briefly” spoken with Rodgers since the news came out. He also talked with Love to let the second-year pro know to expect to start 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.”

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry tested positive last week and also missed the Cardinals game. LaFleur said he’s hopeful that Barry and Adams will both be back at practice Thursday.

Vaccinated players who test positive are allowed to return after they have two negative tests that are taken at least 24 hours apart. Unvaccinated players who test positive are isolated for at least 10 days.

Rodgers was asked at an Aug. 26 media session whether he had been vaccinated.

“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 was asked whether Rodgers’ Aug. 26 comment about being “immunized” might be seen as misleading to fans if the quarterback was indeed unvaccinated.

“That’s a great question for Aaron,” LaFleur said. “I’m not going to comment on it.”

Green Bay (7-1) has won seven straight games and owns a 3 ½-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings (3-4) in the NFC Central, giving the Packers a nice cushion as they deal with the reigning MVP’s absence.

But the loss of Rodgers for even one game would complicate the Packers’ hopes of earning the NFC’s top seed and getting the conference’s lone first-round bye under the NFL’s playoff format. The NFC features four one-loss teams in Green Bay, Arizona, Dallas and the Los Angeles Rams. The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 6-2.

Rodgers, who turns 38 on Dec. 2, has completed 67.1% of his passes this season for 1,894 yards with 17 touchdown passes and three interceptions. He also has two touchdown runs. During the Packers’ winning streak, he has thrown 17 touchdown passes with one interception.

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