The Packers’ receiver room is going to look a lot different on “Thursday Night Football” against the Cardinals than it normally does.
Green Bay’s top two receivers this season are currently on the COVID list. Davante Adams tested positive for the virus on Monday, and that will likely render him inactive in Week 8. Allen Lazard, who is unvaccinated, is also out after being a close contact of Adams.
Adams has played 85.3 percent of the Packers’ snaps so far this year while Lazard has been on the field 77 percent of the time. Needless to say, the Packers will need to find a creative way to replace the high volume of snaps that they now have available.
Part of that could be taken care of if Marquez Valdes-Scantling returns from IR. Even if he does, the Green Bay depth chart will still contain some unfamiliar names in important roles.
Who will be catching most of the Packers’ passes in Week 8? Here’s an in-depth look at the options they’ll have available as they take on the Cardinals.
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Packers WR depth chart
1. Randall Cobb
This is what Cobb was acquired for, right? Aaron Rodgers needs a steady, reliable target in this one and Cobb should be the player to step into that role.
Cobb has played nearly 40 percent of the Packers’ offensive snaps this season. That’s good for third-most on the team behind Adams and Lazard. With those two out, Cobb will surely operate in an expanded role and given his long history with Rodgers, he will certainly see a fair amount of targets.
Cobb has averaged 2.6 targets a game for two catches and 25.6 yards this season. You can expect those numbers to increase drastically, as he’s due to play a majority of the snaps for the first time in his second stint with the Packers.
2. Malik Taylor
After Cobb, it’s anyone’s guess as to how exactly the Packers will deploy their receivers. That said, they will need to have at least some size on the field to pair with Cobb. He’s a 5-10 receiver best suited to play in the slot, so having some taller outside threats makes sense.
Taylor is just coming back from the COVID list, but he seems most likely to play on the outside. The Ferris State product is 6-1 and made the Packers’ 53-man roster to begin the season. That gives him a slight leg up on Equanimeous St. Brown, who began the season on the practice squad.
Taylor played 15 snaps in the Packers’ season opener and caught two of his three targets for 14 yards. His 15 snaps in that game were greater than or equal to those of the other depth receivers on the Packers, so it would seem that he is the highest-ranking member on the depth chart. Expect to see Taylor for a good chunk of the Thursday night game.
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3. Equanimeous St. Brown
Even if Taylor is above him in the pecking order, St. Brown will still get some action. He has played 12 percent of the Packers’ offensive snaps this year, and he has played at least 11 snaps four consecutive weeks.
St. Brown (6-5) has just one catch on three targets for zero yards, but he did post a 13-yard run last week. If Green Bay is happy with his recent performance, it’s possible that he could work ahead of Taylor. For now though, expect him to settle into the No. 3 receiver role. After all, Taylor did beat him out for a roster spot to start the year.
4. Amari Rodgers
Like Taylor, Rodgers played 15 snaps in the Packers’ season opener. He has two catches for 33 yards on the year. However, Rodgers has more recently been limited to single-digit snap counts on offense each game. He’s averaging just four snaps per game since the season opener, so it seems that the 2021 third-round pick is further down the pecking order.
Rodgers stands at just 5-9, so that could be part of the issue. It may be difficult to play both him and Cobb without having a significant height disadvantage. Rodgers should still get on the field though, so don’t be surprised to see him make some plays on Thursday. He may just be serving as the backup slot man behind Cobb.
5. Juwann Winfree
Winfree is on the practice squad but he could be active for this game. The Packers have placed protection on him to ensure he can’t sign with another team. That indicates that he may serve as their fifth or sixth receiver for this game.
Winfree was once a sixth-round draft pick by the Broncos in 2019. He has never caught a pass at the NFL level and played just two snaps for the Packers in his lone game so far this season.
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Is Marquez Valdes-Scantling playing Thursday night?
Marquez Valdes-Scantling has missed the Packers’ last four games while nursing a hamstring injury. His status for Thursday night remains uncertain, but PFF’s Doug Kyed reports that Valdes-Scantling is expected to be activated off IR and play against the Cardinals.
Current expectation is #Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling will be activated off IR and play Thursday night against the Cardinals, per source.
Green Bay will monitor MVS’s hamstring this week, but potential good news with Davante Adams on the COVID-19 list.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) October 25, 2021
Matt LaFleur had expressed a similar hope that MVS would be able to return when asked about it earlier in the week.
“There’s hope for that. We’ll see,” LaFleur said of Valdes-Scantling’s return, per the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I know he’s out there running today, and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. I know he’s working hard. He wants to be out there. Certainly, we miss the element he brings.”
If Valdes-Scantling plays, he will supplant Cobb as the No. 1 option on the WR depth chart. That would allow Taylor, St. Brown and Rodgers to rotate in as the No. 3 receiver while Valdes-Scantling and Cobb see a majority of Aaron Rodgers’ targets.
For the latest updates on Valdes-Scantling’s status, click here.