The NFL’s hottest team will be without its most important player Sunday.
Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 and is out for Green Bay’s showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love will start in place of Rodgers.
Despite telling reporters in August he’d “been immunized,” Rodgers is not vaccinated against COVID-19, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported. Rodgers must spend a minimum of 10 days away from the team according to the league’s COVID-19 protocol, ruling him out for the Packers’ Week 9 game against the Chiefs. The earliest Rodgers can rejoin the team is Nov. 13 — the day before their Week 10 matchup against the Seahawks.
Rapoport also reported that Rodgers has been following the NFL’s protocol for unvaccinated players while inside the team facility this season.
The Packers also will be without practice squad quarterback Kurt Benkert this week as he tested positive for the virus earlier this week.
There’s certainly much more to unpack related to Rodgers’ summer response, but for now, the Packers must look toward Week 9 with Love as their man. The second-year passer saw his most action during the preseason and impressed in a limited amount of snaps, teaming with Devin Funchess and Kylin Hill to move the ball effectively in Weeks 1 and 3 of the exhibition slate. Love also entered during garbage time of Green Bay’s Week 1 loss — the Packers’ lone defeat this season — completing 5 of 7 passes for 68 yards.
Love’s replacement of Rodgers should lower expectations for offensive production for the Packers, but that might not change the minds of those expecting Green Bay to win. Kansas City has found itself in an offensive rut for much of the season and needed a late field goal to beat the now 2-6 Giants at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night. A much stronger Packers team should present a greater challenge to the Chiefs, even if Rodgers isn’t involved.
Love will have the rest of the week to prepare to make his first regular-season start of his career in the hostile confines of Arrowhead. Rodgers, meanwhile, will spend it recuperating at home.
By Nick Shook