Packers coach Matt LaFleur planning to play starters in season finale vs. Lions

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Green Bay Packers
    Green Bay Packers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Matt LaFleur
    Matt LaFleur
    American football coach

The Green Bay Packers won’t be turning Sunday’s season finale against the Detroit Lions into a glorified preseason game.

Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday that, despite his team clinching the No. 1 seed on Sunday, the Packers are going into this week preparing to play stars and any other available starters against the Lions.

“Right now, the mindset is going into this that we’re going to play our guys and we’re going to approach it like every other game,” LaFleur said Monday.

LaFleur’s reasoning for playing everyone in the regular-season finale was simple.

“I just think the reason behind that is I’m not comfortable having essentially a three-week layoff for our guys,” LaFleur said.

The Packers, by virtue of clinching the conference’s top seed, will get a first-round bye in the playoffs. If key players sat out Sunday in Detroit, the time away from the field – or the time between Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings and the start of the NFC Divisional Round – would be roughly three weeks.

Both Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams expressed a desire to play in the season finale after Sunday night’s win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Rodgers, the MVP favorite, is still recovering from a fractured left pinky toe, but the injury has healed significantly and the Packers quarterback is planning to practice at least two days this week and play Sunday. Adams is 23 yards away from breaking Jordy Nelson’s single-season receiving yards record.

The risk for LaFleur in this situation cuts two ways: Rest key players and risk the rust or “laying an egg” factor to open the playoffs, or play key players and risk a potentially season-altering injury. It’s a fine line to walk, and LaFleur said there isn’t necessarily a “right answer.”

“I’m sure if you asked a hundred different people, they’d give you a hundred different answers on what we should do,” LaFleur said. “Bottom line is whatever we do, we’ve got to go out and perform, and we know that. That’s just the way we’re going to go about it.”

LaFleur will just have to cross his fingers that no significant injuries come out of Sunday’s game and that getting on the field helps keep his top players sharp as the postseason begins.

Also, the finale might be important for a few key players recovering from injuries.

The Packers could return All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander, who will both practice this week. LaFleur said the “ideal scenario” would be having both players get snaps in the regular-season finale. But Bakhtiari, who hasn’t played this season while recovering from ACL surgery, and Alexander, who has been out since Week 4 with a significant shoulder injury, still have medical hurdles to get over before the team clears them for action against the Lions.

List

Packers place 3 more players on COVID-19 reserve list