GREEN BAY — In his 13 years in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers has seen far too many times, had that sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach far too often.
Terrence Murphy in Carolina in 2005. Nick Collins in Carolina in 2011. Jermichael Finley at Lambeau Field in 2013. Malachi Dupre at Lambeau Field just last month. And, during Thursday night’s 35-14 victory over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field, Davante Adams.
Too often, the Green Bay Packers quarterback has watched helplessly as one of his teammates left the field on a backboard, left the stadium in an ambulance. Murphy, Collins and Finley would be diagnosed with career-ending neck injuries and never set foot on an NFL field on game day again. Dupre recovered from his concussion and returned before the end of training camp.
And Adams, who spent Thursday night in a local hospital and is now spending his mini-bye weekend off in the concussion protocol, there’s a chance he’ll be good to go for the team’s next game, at Dallas on Oct. 8.
But Rodgers and the rest of the Packers, after a play like the one that happened when Adams was crushed by Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan on a helmet-to-helmet hit at the end of a play near the goal line, the thought isn’t about the next game — it’s about the next play, and how to put aside their concerns and get back to work.
“Right away, you could tell he was in a bad place, in a bad way,” said Rodgers, who saw Adams’ mouth guard go flying after Trevathan launched the crown of his helmet into Adams’ facemask. “It’s never easy. Whether it’s a guy like Malachi who you spend only a few weeks with or a guy like Nick Collins who you win a Super Bowl with and were drafted in the same class. It’s tough.”
The good news regarding Adams Friday was that he was discharged from the hospital and, according to coach Mike McCarthy, was “rambunctious and ready to move forward.” Adams posted on his Twitter account Friday afternoon that he was feeling “great” and back at home.
“Obviously it’s a part of the game, but you want to avoid it as much as you can. It hits you deep and you start thinking a lot,” fellow wide receiver Jordy Nelson said of Adams’ injury. “It’s hard to explain. A lot of thoughts go through your head about him lying there and hoping he’s all right. His family, if they’re here or watching on TV, they get left out of (the loop). If mom and dad are back home watching, they can’t get here and they don’t know anything until they’re finally able to get ahold of him.”
Added wide receiver Randall Cobb: “It’s really scary. Every play, you have that opportunity that that could be your last play. I don’t think people realize the level of courage that it takes to take the field, and especially after a hit like that when you see one of your close friends go down like that.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy wouldn’t say whether he felt Trevathan should have been ejected from the game or if he should be suspended by the NFL for the helmet-to-helmet hit, which McCarthy called “brutal.” Trevathan was penalized 15 yards for the hit but referee John Hussey said after the game he didn’t believe the hit merited an ejection.
“It’s a helmet-to-helmet hit. Davante was in a compromised position,” said McCarthy, who with a number of players visited Adams in the hospital Thursday night after the game. “Obviously like everything in our game it’s evaluated and I’m sure there will be continued conversation going on through the channels long past today.”
McCarthy credited his players for keeping their composure after the hit. Although Rodgers and others argued with the Bears players afterward — Rodgers and tight end Martellus Bennet aid they thought Trevathan and his teammates were celebrating the hit — they lined up after play resumed and promptly scored on a 4-yard Rodgers-to-Nelson touchdown on the ensuing play.
“I think you have to give the players the credit for their focus there,” McCarthy said. “Yes, it’s definitely unnerving any time a player is (down) on the field. And obviously when they bring the board out, it doesn’t matter what color uniform you’re in, it’s an unnerving moment and nobody wants to see anybody go through that. Especially, players don’t want to see a fellow player go through that. I think just the ability they have as professionals kicks in.”
Adams was one of several players the already banged-up Packers lost during the game, as starting running back Ty Montgomery suffered a chest injury on the opening possession of the game and No. 2 running back Jamaal Williams left in the second quarter with a knee injury. The Packers were already without their top five offensive tackles — including starters David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and Bryan Bulaga (ankle) — as well as defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hip) going into the game.
McCarthy indicated that while Montgomery missed the rest of the game, there’s a chance he’ll be able to play against the Cowboys.
“Every injury is different. We’re talking about injuries that the specifics of it are different, where exactly it’s located, type of equipment and definitely the position that you play,” McCarthy said. “I really don’t have a clear answer on exactly what Ty is dealing with and how he can move forward. I know today, as far as his conversation with the trainers, he’s preparing to get ready to play in Dallas.”
‘COACH’S DECISION’: McCarthy was reluctant to share exactly what happened on the Packers’ sideline early in the third quarter when cornerback Damarious Randall was benched after giving up a touchdown pass just before halftime and got into an argument with one of the coaches.
Randall was seen sitting alone on the bench — while the defense was on the field — after the sideline disagreement before veteran cornerback Davon House came and sat alongside him. Later in the second half, Randall was nowhere to be found in the bench area. McCarthy acknowledged Friday it was his decision to send Randall away to the locker room.
“It was a coach’s decision, my decision to send him to the locker room,” McCarthy said. “Anytime things happen throughout the course of our operation — whether it’s in a game, practice and so forth — I can promise you there’s dialogue. It’s an internal matter that’s being handled internally.”
Asked if Randall had a “maturity issue,” McCarthy replied, “I think like anything in life and particularly professional sports and this particular situation, we can all grow. And he has some growing to do.”