Darnell Savage's return would be 'boost' for Packers' defense

S Darnell Savage
S Darnell Savage

GREEN BAY – Safety Darnell Savage and receiver Davante Adams continue making strides toward their potential return from injuries.

Savage is definitely the closer of the two.

The Packers' rookie first-round pick returned to practice this week, and practiced in a limited capacity in full pads on Thursday, so signs are pointing toward him playing Sunday night in Kansas City after missing the past two games with an ankle injury.

After practice, Savage said he certainly hopes he's out there at Arrowhead Stadium, but the final decision is not his to make. During his down time, he's "always in the books" doing his best to stay sharp mentally.

"Obviously I expect to play, want to play, but some things are out of your control," he said. "I'm going to keep rehabbing, day in and day out, and take everything one day at a time.

"I listen to the (medical) guys back there (in the training room). If I feel good and they feel as if I'm good to go, and there's not any risk-reward kind of thing, then obviously I'm going to feel good enough to play and comfortable enough to play."

Savage hurt the ankle early in the second quarter at Dallas back in Week 5 and hadn't done any on-field work until this week. His speed in the secondary could certainly be an asset against a Kansas City offense that features plenty of speed in receivers Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman.

During the second half against the Cowboys and over the past two games, the Packers' defense has given up a number of big plays to opposing offenses. While those breakdowns can't be attributed solely to Savage's absence, and fellow defensive backs Will Redmond and Chandon Sullivan have filled in adequately for the most part, the unit as a whole has not looked the same with the various moving parts.

"Anytime you have your defense that you came out of camp with, the starting defense, you feel full strength," veteran safety Adrian Amos said. "It's more of everybody being able to play their original positions."

Added defensive coordinator Mike Pettine: "We've missed him. Hopefully the rest of the week goes well and we'll have him out there. That remains to be seen, though. But it'll be a boost. I know he's itching to get back. It's always good when the other side has the explosive athletes they have, of course you want to have all yours out there as well."

Whether the Packers can get back to full strength on offense is more questionable. Adams' turf toe has not allowed him to return to practice yet, though Head Coach Matt LaFleur said he would most likely be a game-time decision this week. Adams has been ruled out on the Friday injury report each of the last three games.

The Green Bay Packers held practice on Thursday to prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last week, Adams said he felt "a million times better" than the week before, and he joked his improvement is up to "two million times better" now, but he still doesn't know when the toe is going to be ready.

His priority remains not putting himself at risk of further aggravating the injury.

"It's not even a game. I'm not playing with you guys or with any other team," he said. "I'm trying every day to get back to where I was and I'm just not quite there yet.

"I can do a lot of different footwork stuff. It's just the full-speed routes right now that are a little tougher for me. So I'm trying to fight through that, but I'm in a really good spot right now."

So are the Packers, who had their best offensive game of the season last week without Adams, scoring six touchdowns in eight possessions for a season-high 42 points. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers also posted a maximum 158.3 passer rating.

Seeing the contributions from up and down the roster of perimeter weapons, from the backs to tight ends to other receivers, has Adams fired up for where the offense can go once he's back.

"100 percent," he said. "Obviously it's given guys opportunities to go out and show what they can do. A lot of being successful in this offense individually is your connection with Aaron so them having more opportunities out there is just making the team better by making them individually better."

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