By: JASON WILDE For the State Journal

He’s caught only 17 passes all season, missed five games with a hamstring injury and has scored only two touchdowns. Big touchdowns, to be sure — but only two.

And yet, there may be no greater X-factor for the Green Bay Packers’ offense down the stretch than wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

“Quez, he’s so important to this offense,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said as his team prepped for Sunday night’s matchup with the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. “Obviously, the speed, his ability to stretch the field, create some explosive plays, it gives the defense somebody else in the passing game to worry about other than Tae.”

Tae, of course, is All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams, who enters the final five regular-season games having caught 80 passes for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns — more receptions than Valdes-Scantling and the other six wideouts on the roster have combined (79 receptions, 1,003 yards). And no one is more aware of that than Adams.

“It means a lot, man — what he’s able to do with his size and speed, the pressure he can put on defenses,” Adams said. “If they don’t want to respect it, you can see he can make you pay for it down the field vertically.

“He’s a guy that may slip between the cracks because he’s not getting 10 targets a game or he may go a couple games every few weeks with just like one catch or two catches, but you can see he definitely has it. If you want to disrespect it, you can go right ahead. He’ll just run by you and make plays.”

Ideally, the Packers would like more plays like his 75-yard touchdown catch-and-run from Aaron Rodgers late in the fourth quarter of the 34-31 loss at Minnesota on Nov. 21. And, with veteran Randall Cobb set to miss extended time following surgery to repair a core muscle injury, greater productivity on short-to-intermediate routes would give the Packers’ 15th-ranked offense a lift, too.

Against the Vikings, Valdes-Scantling was targeted nine other times, but those targets produced only three other receptions for 48 yards. Adams caught seven of the eight balls thrown his way for 115 yards and two TDs.

“We’re going to need him at his best,” Adams said. “We need to probably convert on a higher percentage of those plays (where he’s targeted), but I think he’s doing a really good job coming back and re-establishing who he is and what he can do for this offense.”

Forcing defenses to respect the threat of Valdes-Scantling going downfield against them is obviously a key part of LaFleur’s offensive game-planning. During the five games Valdes-Scantling missed with the hamstring injury, which occurred Sept. 26 at San Francisco, deep shots were few and far between. While the coaches believe the influence that threat has on how teams defend Adams is important, it’s not as if Adams hasn’t been productive without Valdes-Scantling on the field.

In the four games Adams played without Valdes-Scantling — he, Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard all missed the Packers’ Oct. 28 win at Arizona — Adams caught 27 of the 39 targets he had for 435 yards and two touchdowns, an average of 6.8 receptions and 108.8 yards per game.

Included in that stretch, however, was the most productive game of Adams’ career, an 11-catch, 206-yard performance at Cincinnati on Oct. 10. In the other three games without Valdes-Scantling, Adams didn’t eclipse the 100-yard mark and had 16 total receptions for 229 yards and one TD.

“I think (his presence) definitely makes a tremendous impact just in terms of his ability to stretch the field and the experience he brings,” LaFleur said. “You can move him around and it’s not a big deal. He’s an extremely intelligent guy. He knows the system very, very well. He does a great job with the details. So, it definitely opens up a different facet to your offense. (And) he has rare speed, so I think that’s something that you, from a defensive perspective you’ve got to account for.”

That said, Valdes-Scantling’s actual production has been limited. He caught a 41-yard pass from Rodgers in the Nov. 14 win over Seattle and had four receptions for 50 yards in the pre-bye win over the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 28. In that game, Valdes-Scantling’s receptions went for 8, 28, 8 and 6 yards, with the 28-yarder converting a second-and-14 situation from the Green Bay 21-yard line that jump-started a touchdown drive.

Valdes-Scantling was targeted 10 times overall against the Rams, including a failed two-point conversion play, meaning he has been targeted 20 times over the past two games.

“I make the plays that I can make, and however they shake out is how they shake out. But I know what I can do, and I know what’s my standard (is),” said Valdes-Scantling, who was added to the injury report after being limited by a back injury on Friday but is expected to play against the Bears. “That’s how I view it. I want to make every single play that I can make.”

He’d also like the ball more, understanding that Adams is the top game-planning priority.

“I want the ball every play. What receiver doesn’t?” Valdes-Scantling said. “That’s kind of the mentality: ‘Throw it to me every play.’ I’m pretty sure everyone in my room feels the exact same way. That’s what you want to have as a receiver, and that’s what builds the trust (from) your quarterback, is that he knows you want the ball every play and you’re going to go compete for it every time.”

Extra points

Rodgers, who had not practiced because of his toe injury except for a handful of snaps during the practice on the Friday before that game at Minnesota, was on Clarke Hinkle Field for the portion of Friday’s practice open to the media and was officially listed as a limited participant. Rodgers was then removed from the injury report without designation and will play. “He took as many reps as he could and did a nice job,” LaFleur said. “It was good to have him back out there.” … No. 3 quarterback Kurt Benkert, who will serve as Rodgers’ primary backup with Jordan Love on the reserve/COVID-19 list, is excited to suit up for his first NFL regular-season game and took ample snaps throughout the week of practice. “I didn’t think it would take this long,” Benkert said. “Sunday Night Fooball against the Bears, one of the oldest traditions in football, a pretty cool way to (suit up). It’s definitely a little bit of a change of a role.” … Inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell was back at practice after a 10-day quarantine on the reserve/COVID-19 list and was officially listed as questionable on the injury report. “He’s still got to work through the whole protocol. Provided he does that OK, checks out OK, he’ll play,” LaFleur said. … As expected, the Packers ruled out left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and wide receiver Randall Cobb (core muscle). … The Bears removed wide receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring) and running back David Montgomery (shoulder/groin) from the injury report, indicating they both will play. Montgomery missed the first meeting between the teams. … Bears quarterback Andy Dalton (left hand) is doubtful, with rookie Justin Fields set to start, while linebacker Cassius Marsh (knee) is out and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (ankle) is questionable, as is defensive end Mario Edwards (ribs). … LaFleur struggled to get through his brief post-practice news conference with his voice raspy. He assured reporters he was dealing with a run-of-the-mill flu-season illness and not COVID-19, saying he was “corona-free.”