No time to celebrate for Packers; division-rival Lions on their way

Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – By necessity, celebrations don’t linger in the NFL.

When Thursday Night Football is around the corner, they barely get started.

The time to reflect on the Packers’ 17-point fourth-quarter comeback against the Saints already has passed with the Lions headed to Lambeau Field in just a few days for an early first-place showdown in the NFC North.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur made sure to deliver that message right after Sunday’s game, emphasizing it was “already Wednesday in our world” if it were a full seven-day week. But of course, it’s not.

“Now we’re sitting at Thursday,” LaFleur said Monday, for those who can make sense of the calendar equivalence. “That’s just the reality of the schedule.”

Regarding the game plan, “You’re cramming in a lot of information in a short period of time,” LaFleur said. “They’ve got to be able to digest all that and still try to get their bodies back as best as possible.”

Preparation-wise, it helps the Lions are a familiar, division opponent. But health-wise, as banged up as the Packers are, it’s not an ideal time for a short week (as though there ever is).

LaFleur said the team was “hopeful” it might get running back Aaron Jones and receiver Christian Watson back on Sunday for the Saints game, but neither was cleared to return from their hamstring injuries. The approach is no different this week. Watson has missed all three regular-season games thus far, while Jones has missed the last two.

“I think we’re in a similar spot,” LaFleur said, “so we’ll just see how they respond and how they’re feeling. Because the last thing we want to do is jeopardize these guys for a long period of time for one game.”

Right tackle Zach Tom sustained a knee injury late in Sunday’s game, but he appears to have avoided anything serious because LaFleur said he’ll get “up ’til game time” to see if he can go.

Other updates included the news that linebacker De'Vondre Campbell‘s ankle injury is not to the same ankle that kept him out for a significant portion of training camp, and that cornerback Carrington Valentine‘s bicep injury is not a torn muscle.

Isaiah McDuffie and Eric Wilson both took snaps at inside linebacker in Campbell’s place, while practice-squad member Corey Ballentine ended up playing the entire second half on defense for Valentine, who was already filling in for Jaire Alexander, currently out with a back injury.

No updates were given on either left tackle David Bakhtiari or left guard Elgton Jenkins. Their spots were manned Sunday by Rasheed Walker and Royce Newman, respectively.

The Lions have matched the Packers at 2-1 through three games, putting the early hold on first place in the division on the line. The two teams will play yet another Thursday game on a short week, on Thanksgiving in Detroit, but this one carries plenty of implications for Week 4.

“We have a team that we’ve lost to three consecutive times, that knocked us out of the playoffs last year,” LaFleur said. “It’s an NFC North rival. So, I know what they’re all about.”

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