The Green Bay Packers listed 15 players on their official injury report for the second straight week, but the one name that stands out most is quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers made his first appearance on the report this season due to a banged up right throwing shoulder, but his comments to ESPN following Wednesday’s practice suggested he’s dealt with the issue for some time or at the very least during Green Bay’s current three-game slide.
“It’s not an excuse. It’s a source of pride. I think that’s the difference,” Rodgers said. “Some people use the injuries as an excuse. But I think for the guys in this locker room who are out there battling, it’s a source of pride.”
More than Rodgers’ pride is on the line in Week 11. The Packers (6-3) sit one game back of the Minnesota Vikings (7-2) for first-place in the NFC North, and a fourth straight loss would significantly hinder Green Bay’s pursuit of a fifth straight division title and potentially knock them back to the NFC wild card race for the duration of the season.
Rodgers initially denied being hurt following Sunday’s 18-16 loss to the Detroit Lions, but according to ESPN’s report he also suffered some sort of leg injury during the game. That injury was not included on Green Bay’s official report this week, as pointed out by ProFootballTalk.
The 31-year-old former MVP was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice, but was upgraded to a full participant on Thursday and Friday and is probable, signs he’s certain to play but leaves unclear whether he’s healed and ready to return to his once dominant form.
After racing out to a 6-0 mark to start the season with Rodgers firing off 15 touchdowns to two interceptions, Rodgers and the Packers have fallen out of the NFC’s race for one of the top two playoff seeds, with many baffled by Green Bay’s sudden offensive slide.
To be fair, Green Bay’s faced two of the NFL’s best defenses in Denver and Carolina, as well as a rival Lions squad that hadn’t won at Lambeau Field in a quarter century. But during the losing streak the offense has averaged 304.6 yards and 18.3 points per game. Compare those stats to the 364.1 yards and 27.3 points per contest during the six-game winning streak to open the season.
Beginning with Week 8’s road letdown to Denver, Rodgers completed only 14 passes for 77 yards and no touchdowns while taking three sacks and another seven hits from the Broncos punishing defense.
Over the last two games Rodgers has thrown for over 300 yards but his passes haven’t been nearly as accurate or crisp. He’s completed less than 60 percent of his attempts for an excellent six touchdowns to only one interception, but Rodgers’ equally nicked offensive line allowed another eight sacks and 21 hits to their superstar.
More punishment could be in store for Rodgers with offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga (knee) and David Bakhtiari (knee), and guards Josh Sitton (knee) and T.J. Lang (shoulder) entering Week 11 with injuries, but some of the blame also rests on the weapons around Rodgers.
As the quarterback and face of one of the league’s most storied franchises, Rodgers is set up to take the hits when the Packers fail. However, he certainly isn’t the only banged up Packer and many have contributed to Green Bay’s midseason woes.
Running back Eddie Lacy’s dealt with ankle and groin injuries this season, with the latter most recently making its way to the injury report, and his poor health has dropped the Packers rushing attack from No. 11 a year ago to to No. 16 in the league while veteran James Starks fills in and also tries to stay healthy.
No. 1 receiver Randall Cobb began the season with a shoulder injury and he’s recovered to make 45 receptions for 529 yards and five touchdowns, but veteran James Jones has fallen off precipitously with three receptions for 59 total yards and no touchdowns in the last three games.
James allowed Cobb to avoid double-coverage from opposing pass defenses, but his quadriceps injury was found on the injury report for the second straight week. James also worked through a hamstring injury between Weeks 5 and 6, but then had the bye week to recover.
Second-year receiver Davante Adams and rookie Ty Montgomery have each spelled or are currently dealing with ankle injuries this season. Adams, who’s third on the team with 272 receiving yards, has sat out three games and Montgomery the entirety of the losing streak.