The Packers have what Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio called a talented one-two punch in Davante Adams and Aaron Jones. The two stars, teamed up with Aaron Rodgers, have given Green Bay a balanced offensive attack the past three seasons.
The Packers haven’t been as prolific as in years past through six games — they’re 23rd in yards per game and in the middle of the pack in most other statistical categories. But the Packers are still 5-1, and Del Rio isn’t underestimating the difficulties presented by Green Bay’s stas and their skill sets.
Del Rio called Jones a slasher and a dynamic runner, specifically pointing to his ability to run behind his pads and find holes with his vision. Del Rio called Jones a slasher and a dynamic runner. Jones has 385 yards and two touchdowns rushing and four touchdowns receiving.
“I think he’s one of the top backs in the league,” Del Rio said. “… And then Adams is spectacular.”
Adams is on the final year of his contract and, like Rodgers, could be on the move this offseason. His stats to this point illustrate why he will be in high demand: Adams is tied for the league lead in receptions (46) and is first in receiving yards (668) after leading the league with 18 receiving touchdowns a year ago.
What makes Adams so great? He can do everything an elite wide receiver should, according to Del Rio — run a complete route tree, separate from cornerbacks, catch any ball thrown to him. That makes it easy for him and Rodgers to be on the same page.
“He’s one of the elite players in the league, and you see him every week,” Del Rio said. “I mean, people, they come in different shapes and sizes and different names, but [Adams is] the best of the best, and he’s really gifted.”
Washington Coach Ron Rivera said the Packers will be prepared to attack Washington’s defensive weaknesses, but he knows Adams will be a featured part of their game plan.
“They're going to make sure they get the ball in his hands,” Rivera said. “They like their guys, and they're going to run the plays that they want to run, but they will look at things that we've struggled with, and they will add that to their repertoire. That's kind of what we're anticipating.”
Wes Schweitzer and Cornelius Lucas have filled in well on the offensive line in place of starters Brandon Scherff and Sam Cosmi. They will have to maintain their recent performance level Sunday against a strong Packers defensive front that features defensive linemen Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry and linebackers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith, although Smith’s is questionable.
Lucas — who previously played for two NFC North teams, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions — described Lambeau as a tough place to play but a venue rich in football culture. The hostile environment will be another opportunity for the line to build off last week’s outing and bond as a unit — something Lucas said has been happening throughout the season for both starters and reserves.
“I think [offensive line coach John] Matsko does a great job of rotating us in and out,” Lucas said. “Keeping us fresh in different positions, learning all five positions, knowing all five positions, being able to teach all five positions. So I think that’s what keeps us cohesive as such.”
Taylor Heinicke grew up as a Green Bay Packers fan and said the opportunity to start at Lambeau Field is a dream come true. Brett Favre was the reason Heinicke started loving football, and Washington’s quarterback remembers trying to emulate him in his backyard between halves of Packers games.
Heinicke’s dad was a Packers fan and the two bonded over their love for the team. The last Super Bowl they watched together was Super Bowl XLV in 2011, when the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heinicke’s dad died the following December, so Sunday’s matchup will be a special game.
“It might get a little emotional there at the beginning, but again, I’m just excited for this opportunity,” Heinicke said.
Injury report: For the second straight week, Washington will be without Cosmi and Scherff on the offensive live and wide receivers Curtis Samuel and Cam Sims. Cornerback William Jackson III (knee) and running back Antonio Gibson (shin) have been limited in practice this week and are questionable, but wide receiver Terry McLaurin, also limited in practice this week, will play on Sunday. Backup defensive end Shaka Toney is questionable with an illness.
The Packers have three defensive starters listed as questionable: Smith, safety Darnell Savage Jr. (concussion) and cornerback Kevin King (shoulder).