benkert photo 12-6

Kurt Benkert will be the backup quarterback against the Bears if Jordan Love isn't activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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GREEN BAY — Jordan Love has spent the better part of the last month doing his best Aaron Rodgers impression during practice, running the Green Bay Packers first-team offense with Rodgers trying to speed the healing of his fractured pinkie toe by not taking snaps in practice.

But if Rodgers’ toe didn’t heal enough during the bye week to allow him to do more in practice this week in preparation for Sunday night’s matchup with the Chicago Bears, then someone else will have to play the role of the reigning NFL MVP after the Packers placed Love on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday.

The 23-year-old Love managed to avoid contracting COVID-19 last month, when both Rodgers and third-string quarterback Kurt Benkert tested positive for the virus a couple of days apart. Love told reporters in the wake of those positive tests he is vaccinated, which allowed him to avoid being deemed a high-risk close contact. Otherwise, he also would have missed the team’s Nov. 7 game at Kansas City, and veteran Blake Bortles — signed off of a golf course after being out of football following his training camp release — likely would have had to start against the Chiefs.

Instead, Love was able to make his first NFL start, and while not everything went well for the 2020 first-round pick in the 13-7 loss, it was a valuable learning experience — just as running the No. 1 offense was for the three weeks that followed while Rodgers was still quarantining going into the team’s Nov. 14 win over Seattle and while he rested his toe leading into the team’s Nov. 21 loss at Minnesota and Nov. 28 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

“I think just getting those reps and being out there with them, it’s definitely helped me and helped others build a better chemistry (with me),” Love said of the extra practice work he’d been getting. “It’s just something that takes time and takes reps.”

Now, if Rodgers rests his foot again this week in practice, Benkert will presumably take those first-team snaps and the Packers may have to bring back Bortles or sign another available quarterback to serve as the third option until Love is cleared and returns to the team. Vaccinated players who are asymptomatic must receive two negative tests at least 24 hours apart to return to the roster, whereas unvaccinated players are required to serve a mandatory 10-day quarantine and be asymptomatic to return.

The Packers also are awaiting the return of starting inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list during the bye week and coach Matt LaFleur said will be able to return to the team’s facility on Friday. That would indicate Campbell remains unvaccinated and was subject to the 10-day quarantine.

“Dre's doing well. We're hopeful that we can get him back in this building and we'll see where he's at when he can come back in on Friday — provided he's asymptomatic, which I believe he is,” LaFleur said. “He’s doing everything he can at home to be at his best and we’ll make sure that we incorporate him throughout our game plan meetings through Zoom. He’ll be a big part of it.”

Meanwhile, LaFleur said Rodgers did not “to my knowledge” undergo surgery over the weekend on his pinkie toe. Rodgers had suggested during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” last Tuesday that he might still have surgery, and he reportedly sought a second opinion in Los Angeles during the bye, which permitted him to leave Green Bay.

“I don’t believe so, no,” LaFleur replied when asked if Rodgers was having surgery Monday or might have surgery Tuesday.

That means it could be more of the same for Rodgers this week — rest and treatment, with very little practice work until game day.

“I know he was getting treatment and doing everything he can to be 100%,” LaFleur said. “I still think it's a process, and we'll see where he's at this week. Hopefully we can get him out there at practice, but if not, we've got a lot of confidence in just his ability to go out there and play at a high level.”

Photos: Packers' 2021 season in pictures

Check out photo galleries from every game of 2021 from the preseason through the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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