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Packers taking steps toward getting healthier

Two of three receivers who missed last game were back at practice Monday

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

GREEN BAY – Davante Adams was not on the practice field Monday, but the Packers' receiver position still took a big step toward better health.

Allen Lazard was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list and practiced after missing last week's game, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling also practiced as he works his way back from going on injured reserve a month ago with a hamstring injury.

"He's coming along," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said of Valdes-Scantling, who has missed the last five games as the team has taken a very cautious approach.

"Anytime you're dealing with that type of injury, you never want to put a guy out there too early, because then it basically doubles the timeline for when you get a guy back."

LaFleur suggested Thursday was a possibility for getting Adams back, along with defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Both tested positive for COVID early last week.

So more will be known about the potential availability of Adams and Valdes-Scantling for the upcoming trip to Kansas City later in the week.

The same goes for left tackle David Bakhtiari, who is practicing but has not yet been activated off the physically unable to perform list (PUP). LaFleur said a decision already has been made as to whether or not Bakhtiari would play against the Chiefs, but it won't be shared publicly in order to keep the opponent in the dark.

"We've just got to make sure that the timing is right and take it day by day," LaFleur said. "When he's ready to go (and) everybody feels confident about it then he'll be back out there."

In order to be eligible to play this season, Bahktiari would have to be activated to the 53-man roster by the middle of next week, when his 21-day window to practice with a roster exemption expires. LaFleur left open the possibility Bakhtiari could be activated but not be inserted into the starting lineup until later.

He's made his presence felt at team workouts for the last couple of weeks, though, and his teammates appreciate that.

"It's been so exciting to have him at practice," said center Lucas Patrick, who has filled in for rookie starter Josh Myers the past two-plus games. "To have the best offensive lineman in the NFL out here with our group, it just raises our practice habits. Not that we weren't going hard, but his attention to detail is phenomenal.

"It's not just the physical. It's the mental, even the emotional, riding steady through the whole game and whole practice. Yeah, love to have him back as soon as possible. I'm just happy to have him at practice and bring that edge that he brings."

Veteran offensive tackle Dennis Kelly also has returned to practice after an extended absence due to a back injury, while outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith was at practice as an observer Monday following his return to Green Bay.

Recovering from back surgery, Smith has been sidelined since making a part-time appearance in Week 1, and the team is holding out hope he can be back at some point by season's end. LaFleur considers him week-to-week right now.

"He had a big smile on his face," LaFleur said. "He seems to be in good spirits, which is always important. It was just good to have him back in the building."

The players had a short practice Monday after their weekend off, and they'll now take their regular Tuesday off before the on-field preparation for the Chiefs begins Wednesday.

In the meantime, the coaching staff will be watching Kansas City on Monday Night Football and then incorporating that film into the study materials for this week. The two-time defending AFC champion Chiefs have started slowly and are looking to even their record at 4-4 by getting a home victory over the 2-5 Giants.

"We'll definitely be paying close attention to this game," LaFleur said. "I don't buy their record right now. I know that they are as dangerous as anybody."

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