The Browns were missing coach Kevin Stefanski and about a dozen usual starters — including quarterback Baker Mayfield — who were on the reserve/COVID-19 list for the Raiders game.
Stefanski has since returned. The Browns also expect to have some players back who weren’t available for Monday’s game, maybe even Mayfield, who might not travel with the team to Wisconsin, but is expected to start.
He remained on the COVID-19 list through Thursday, and Mayfield hasn’t practiced since going on the COVID-19 list Dec. 15. His 10-day quarantine period ends Saturday, and Stefanski said he’ll likely start despite not practicing.
“If he’s healthy as he’s been and he’s cleared and ready to go, then I anticipate him playing.”
With the late kickoff, the Browns will have a walkthrough before the game, which will give Mayfield a chance to go over the game plan and throw after being limited to virtual meetings the past two weeks.
It has been a challenging two weeks for the Browns, who have dealt with numerous obstacles while preparing for one of the NFL’s top teams.
“The challenge is facing a really good Packers team,” Stefanski said. “You know they have star players. They are very well coached. We have our work cut out for us. Who is available to us and all of those type of things, we will just deal with it day by day.”
While the Browns are trying to stay in the playoff picture, the Packers also have plenty at stake in this Christmas Day contest.
Green Bay already has secured its third straight NFC North title, but is competing for the top seed in the conference playoffs, which would give the Packers a first-round postseason bye. The Packers are seeking their first Super Bowl berth since their 2010 title run after losing in the NFC championship game each of the last two years.
The Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all one game behind Green Bay in the conference standings.
“We can’t take these next three opponents lightly because we still have a lot left out there for us,” Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard said. “Yes, we’ve had success. Yes, we’ve won division titles. We’ve gone to the NFC championship the past two years, but ultimately when the season’s over with, we didn’t reach our goal.”
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ next touchdown pass will be his 443rd, which would overtake Hall of Famer Brett Favre for the franchise lead. Favre threw 508 touchdown passes, but that total includes 22 with the New York Jets in 2008 and 44 for the Minnesota Vikings from 2009-10.
“After last season, I knew that I was getting closer and if I had a decent season this year, I could get home and get this record,” Rodgers said, “which is definitely meaningful to me because of the history of the franchise and how much I’ve enjoyed my time here.”
Nothing’s going to stop Browns defensive superstar Myles Garrett’s playoff push.
Garrett injured his groin in the fourth quarter Monday, stayed in despite being limited and said it would take a “broken leg” to keep him out against Rodgers and the Packers. He didn’t practice this week.
“I feel like I’ll play regardless of how I feel,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and give my all. We’ve got to win out to make the playoffs and I’m going to play in every second of the game that I can.”
Garrett, who has a career-high 15 sacks, understands the task won’t be easy with Takk McKinley out for the season and Jadeveon Clowney on the COVID-19 list.
“I don’t have a choice but to be great,” he said.
SPECIAL TEAMS ISSUES
The Browns’ kicking game has a new look.
Struggling kicker Chase McLaughlin was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Friday, and will be replaced by Chris Naggar, who was activated from the practice squad to make his regular-season debut.
The Browns initially planned to stick with McLaughlin despite him missing six of his last 12 field goal tries, including a 47-yarder that proved costly against Las Vegas.
While they intended to ride it out with McLaughlin, the Browns waived punter Jamie Gillan.
Nicknamed “The Scottish Hammer,” Gillan struggled all season. He went on the COVID-19 list two weeks ago, and veteran Dustin Colquitt took his job.
The Packers have their own special teams issues.
They committed three penalties at Baltimore. One week earlier, they allowed a 97-yard punt return to Chicago’s Jakeem Grant and had several other special teams gaffes.
Browns at Packers, 4:30 p.m., Fox, NFL Network, Amazon, 1290, 95.7