GREEN BAY — Saying he feels “a little better,” Aaron Rodgers fully intends to play Sunday despite a painful left knee injury that figures to curtail his mobility against a terrific Minnesota Vikings defense.
Whether he will indeed play, however, the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback isn’t guaranteeing anything.
Describing the injury he suffered in Sunday night’s victory over the Chicago Bears as a “sprained knee” — which, by definition, means there is at least a partial tear of a ligament — Rodgers said Wednesday the knee remains painful but that his hope is that he’ll play.
“I want to play, obviously,” Rodgers said, after not taking part in practice. “Just taking it one day at a time. (We’ll) see how it feels tomorrow and see how it feels Friday, Saturday and hopefully (I’m) ready to go Sunday.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the decision to have Rodgers in the rehabilitation group and not practicing Wednesday was “definitely not a setback. ... I think anytime a player comes off a game where he’s injured, obviously there’s the hope of playing. Obviously, we’ll give him the whole week to get ready. We’ll take it day by day and learn as we go.”
Assuming Rodgers does play, he obviously won’t be able to move the way he does when fully healthy — which puts him at a disadvantage against a Minnesota defense that finished last season ranked No. 1 in fewest yards (275.9) and points (15.8) allowed per game.
Rodgers said he doesn’t need to be fully mobile to be effective against the Vikings, but that he does need to be able to “move around a little bit in a small circle (like) I was moving in Sunday night. If I can get back to that, hopefully a little better than that (and) without pain, then hopefully I’ll be able to go.”
In rallying his team past the Bears, Rodgers, who jogged onto the field as halftime was ending, completed 17 of 23 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns (152.7 rating) to erase a 20-0 deficit in the Packers’ 24-23 victory. Rodgers moved out of the pocket slightly to his left on his game-winning 75-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb — a pass Cobb caught at the Green Bay 36-yard line and took the rest of the way — and said such movements would be sufficient for him to play against the Vikings.
“I’m not sure what kind of mobility, if I can play Sunday, I’ll be able to have,” Rodgers said. “It’s about muscle memory. I’ve been in situations where I haven’t been able to move a ton outside the pocket, and still had mobility within the pocket. I mean, there’s two kinds of mobility — in the pocket, being subtle movements that allow you to have a clean launch point, and then there’s movement that allows you to get outside the pocket, which allows you to extend plays and take shots down the field or run. And we’ll see what kind of mobility I’m allowed to have.”
For their part, the Vikings are preparing for Rodgers, believing any uncertainty about his availability is manufactured gamesmanship.
“You know he walks on water, so I’m sure he’s going to play,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Asked if the Vikings prepare for Rodgers differently knowing he might be confined to the pocket, Zimmer replied, “That’s part of it, but we won’t know that going into the ballgame, so we’re going to plan on having the normal game plan. Then you always have some kind of adjustments that you can make off of those things.”
Listening to Rodgers, it didn’t sound like the Packers were trying to play a cat-and-mouse game with the Vikings about his knee. It sounded more as if Rodgers’ injury is cause for concern but after convincing team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie to let him play the second half against the Bears, Rodgers will surely lobby to play again this week.
Rodgers declined to say which ligament he damaged when Bears defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris landed on him but indicated it was not a torn medial collateral ligament. In 2002, Rodgers’ predecessor, Brett Favre, played after partially tearing the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee, but the Packers did have a bye week between the injury and Favre’s return to the lineup.
Rodgers said the knee has been “pretty sore the last three days” but when asked about his confidence in backup DeShone Kizer’s ability to lead the team if he can’t play, Rodgers replied, “(I) haven’t even thought about that.”
Asked if he needs to practice this week in order to play against the Vikings, Rodgers replied simply, “Nope.”
But, if Rodgers can’t practice, it means he and his receivers won’t get any work in advance of Sunday’s game, which is obviously less than ideal.
“It’s a little different with trying to make sure we’re all on the same page just because when you don’t get those live reps with your quarterback, it kind of switches things up a little bit,” wide receiver Davante Adams said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to get out there and it will be the same. We’ve had looks at it all throughout camp, we run the same plays, I’m sure we won’t be putting in any new plays for this week. As long as we talk through everything and get some type of (work) by Saturday or whenever we can, I think we’ll be good.”
Adams sits out
Rodgers wasn’t the only one playing hurt on Sunday night. Adams suffered a shoulder injury when he fell awkwardly at the end of his 51-yard catch-and-run early in the fourth quarter and did not practice Wednesday. Adams said he plans to play against the Vikings.
“I’m feeling good about Sunday still,” he said. “I fell on my shoulder on that long (catch-and-run). I had a little bit of adrenaline, so I was able to carry it out for the rest of the game. But it was hurting a little bit the day after the game on Monday morning. We’re just taking it light a little bit just so we can build up and be ready for Sunday.”
Rodgers said he wasn’t on any pain-killing medication that contributed to him sounding a bit off during his postgame interview with the “Sunday Night Football” crew from NBC. “Definitely wasn’t any pain meds. I’m not a big believer in general in any type of opioid or any type of pain medicine,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, you want to be out there. I wasn’t very mobile there in the second half at all. Played like that, unfortunately, a few times in my career. Hopefully I’ll be able to be back out there.” … Rookie inside linebacker Oren Burks, who missed last week’s game with the shoulder injury he suffered in pregame warmups before the team’s Aug. 24 preseason game at Oakland, practiced and said afterward he’s feeling much better. “Today was no issue with everything in practice, every drill. I’m feeling good about where I’m at,” said Burks, who was listed as a limited participant in practice. “I’m feeling really confident about it. It feels very strong and stable with the harness on.” … Safety Josh Jones (ankle) remained unable to practice.