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'The NFL's not going to stop' for Packers

Green Bay forging ahead amidst mounting obstacles

WR Randall Cobb and QB Aaron Rodgers
WR Randall Cobb and QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – As an already difficult week continues to grow more challenging for the Packers, the last thing they'll be doing in Arizona on Thursday is throwing their own pity party.

No Davante Adams for Aaron Rodgers to pass to. No Allen Lazard, either. No defensive coordinator, so a coaching colleague will have to call the plays on that side of the ball.

And who knows if all the bad COVID news is done being delivered before facing the undefeated Cardinals. But the game is going to be played, and the Packers will have to be ready. That part isn't changing.

These are the times that put the emphasis on "professional" in professional football.

"That's our job," veteran receiver Randall Cobb said Tuesday of dealing with the obstacles that keep mounting before the biggest game of the season to date. "Our job is to perform at our best, and our job is to find ways to win ballgames."

Cobb and Rodgers both answered questions from the media regarding Adams' pending absence but before the latest news on Lazard was announced publicly, though both likely knew about it following the team's walk-through workout.

"Unfortunately, that's just the way this league works," Cobb continued. "It doesn't matter. When Aaron broke his collarbone a few years back, the NFL didn't stop playing. When guys go out in this league that are 'the guy,' the NFL continues to go on."

And so will the Packers, with an offensive game plan carrying plenty of volume, according to Rodgers, despite the short week and shorthanded personnel.

The three-time MVP QB said the offense practiced a more extensive game plan last week, knowing some of the ideas might not be used but could carry over.

"We're loaded for bear, as Big Mike (McCarthy) used to say," Rodgers said.

What remains to be seen is who emerges as a focal point in the passing game with Adams and Lazard out.

Under Head Coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers are surprisingly 6-0 in games the All-Pro Adams has missed, mostly thanks to others turning in big-time performances in his stead.

In 2019, running back Aaron Jones had four rushing touchdowns at Dallas and 159 receiving yards at Kansas City. Last year, Lazard had 146 receiving yards at New Orleans, while Robert Tonyan caught three TDs against Atlanta.

"We're not a better team without him, that's for sure," Rodgers said of not having Adams. "We've just found a way in those games."

While proven producers like Jones, Tonyan and Cobb will certainly be leaned on, opportunity will knock for others, such as rookie Amari Rodgers or Equanimeous St. Brown, a recent signee to the 53-man roster.

Cobb mentioned that he spoke to Amari Rodgers, a longtime acquaintance, about his second season in the league (2012), when receiver Greg Jennings was sidelined for seven straight games.

In those seven contests, Cobb went out and caught 42 passes for 451 yards and seven TDs, production that dwarfed what he put up his entire rookie season (25-375-1) the year before.

"I tried to use it as an opportunity to make (the coaches) play me," Cobb said. "I think that's kind of the attitude you have to take into a game where you have … more of a chance, and prove why you should be on the field."

Questions still exist as to whether left tackle David Bakhtiari or receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling will return to action this week. There's uncertainty on defense, too, regarding the status of veterans Preston Smith and Kevin King.

"It'd be great to get those guys back," Rodgers said. "But we've got to go with what we have on Thursday."

Which is plenty of pros who have done it before combined with promising youth that has a chance to emerge.

"The NFL's not going to stop because one guy's hurt, one guy's out," Cobb said. "We love our players, we love our teammates, but we've got to play ball. We've got two days to get ready to go up against an undefeated team."