Packers 'hopeful' to be healthier next week

Extra time off should help team heal up and manage COVID issues

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Team huddle

GREEN BAY – Despite adding two more players to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday, the Packers hope to be healthier when they return from their weekend off.

Linebacker Krys Barnes and rookie quarterback Jordan Love were placed on the reserve list Friday, less than a full day after the Packers' 34-17 road victory over the 49ers. Barnes played in the game before exiting with a calf injury.

They join three others on the COVID list (running backs AJ Dillon and Jamaal Williams, plus linebacker Kamal Martin) that accompanies a rather lengthy injury list, which got longer in San Francisco, that the team has been dealing with for roughly the past month.

Of the players who exited Thursday night's game – Barnes, cornerback Jaire Alexander (concussion), tackle Rick Wagner (knee) and running back Dexter Williams (knee) – the only one Head Coach Matt LaFleur mentioned as a potential long-term concern was Williams.

The hope is that the extra weekend rest for some and continued recovery for others will put the 6-2 Packers in a better spot health-wise when they begin the second half of the regular season next week.

All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, receiver Allen Lazard, cornerback Kevin King and linebacker Christian Kirksey are Week 1 starters who all have missed a varying number of consecutive games now, but they could be on the verge of returning in the coming weeks.

"That's the expectation but we all know that that can turn in a hurry," LaFleur said Friday. "We're hopeful to get those guys back. We'll see where we are when we get back in the building, but certainly we know we're at our best when all those guys are healthy."

Due to COVID protocols, the team is hosting players 10 at a time for a Friday or Saturday weight-room workout, with the full team reconvening Monday pending any further COVID issues.

The offensive line once again navigated a challenging game, first without Bakhtiari and then after Wagner left. The constant shuffling heading into and during games, and the success with which it's been handled, has been the story of the season for the unit, but getting Bakhtiari back sooner than later would create a welcome measure of stability.

Having missed only six games over the first seven years of his career, the four-time All-Pro has sat out the past three games with a chest injury.

"We'll see where David is at on Monday," LaFleur said. "We're hopeful but some of those things are out of our control. I know he's doing everything in his power to be back out on the field with his teammates. I know he loves this game and certainly we miss him."

The weekend off hopefully will help prevent any more additions to the COVID list, and LaFleur reiterated the team continues to remain "diligent" with mask wearing and socially distancing in the facility. The league's new protocols for mask wearing on the sidelines during games were followed in San Francisco as well.

The running back situation was precarious heading into the San Francisco game, but the return of Aaron Jones from a calf injury was fortuitous as well as a "shot in the arm" for the offense, which scored 30-plus points for the sixth time in eight games this season.

Most important, for the fifth time in five tries after a regular-season loss under LaFleur, the Packers rebounded with a win.

"I think that's a credit to the players that we have, the coaches that we have, just the way we attack it," LaFleur said. "I think that's an important part of being a winning team in this league is you've got to avoid those consecutive losses. You better be able to bounce back if you put a disappointing performance out there."

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