Aaron Rodgers still thinks the Green Bay Packers’ offense will be dynamic, and he showed as much with a spectacular performance in practice on Monday. But he probably won’t get to show it to the masses much this preseason.
At least not this week.
Even though Rodgers said last week he planned to play Thursday against the Oakland Raiders, he sounds resigned to the idea that he may play in only one preseason game — a week from Friday at San Francisco.
For the second straight day, Rodgers ran only the scout team in practice, while backup QB Brett Hundley worked with the starters. Still, it was Rodgers’ best practice of the summer, which is saying something because he has been especially sharp throughout — and did it against the Packers’ No. 1 defense.
Rodgers would not have played in the Hall of Fame Game had it not been called off, and he did not play in last Friday’s preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns. However, during the broadcast of that game, he indicated he planned to play this week against the Raiders.
Coach Mike McCarthy was noncommittal before Monday’s practice, but when Rodgers didn’t take a single snap with the starters during the two-hour and 24-minute practice, it provided a more definitive look at the Packers’ plan for Thursday night.
“I would expect extended time in the third game,” Rodgers said, adding that he doesn’t expect to play much — if at all — in the fourth game. “So it’s about conditioning at that point, and making sure you feel good by the time Week 1 rolls around.”
Rodgers hasn’t played in a preseason finale since 2012. If he doesn’t play against the Raiders, then next week at San Francisco likely will be his only summer football game action.
Unless receiver Jordy Nelson (knee) is activated off the physically unable to perform list next week, he and Rodgers are unlikely to get any game work together before Nelson returns.
That hardly seems like a recipe for turning around an offense that slipped to 23rd in the league last season.
“Well, we’re still working through some things,” Rodgers said. “We don’t have all of our guys. We’ve had multiple days of practice without [tight end] Jared Cook and without Jordy, obviously, and Randall [Cobb] has been out and I missed a couple days for rest. Ty [Montgomery] just got back. So we’re going to put it together slowly, but we haven’t had everybody together yet.
“When we do, I think it can be special. Because of that, you’ve seen some guys make some great plays in practice and really jump out. I think Randall has had a phenomenal camp. He’s a veteran guy for us, but he’s been fantastic. Davante [Adams] has made a bunch of plays. [Jared] Abbrederis has been spectacular at times. Geronimo [Allison] has made a bunch of plays for us, too. So there’s a lot of depth in the receiver and the skill-position room, and it’ll be nice to see what we can do when everybody’s healthy.”
And then there’s Rodgers, who fired touchdown passes to anyone and everyone on Monday. Among the highlights were: a perfectly thrown corner route to Ed Williams, who made an over-the-shoulder grab with Sam Shields in tight coverage; a roll-out to his left and a throw across his body to the right, where running back Brandon Burks made a leaping catch for a touchdown; a rocket to tight end Mitchell Henry for a touchdown up the seam.
For now, that’s the best preparation Rodgers will get.
“Nothing is going to officially get you ready for that first game until you get out there,” he said. “You can prepare for it, but it’s always going to be [that] the first couple [games] test your wind, but the only way to do that is if you played every snap of every preseason game, and that’s not going to happen.”