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As Aaron Rodgers misses another Packers practice, Mike McCarthy says it’s ‘no layup’ that he plays Sunday

September 14, 2018

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is carted off the field after injuring his left knee in the second quarter of Green Bay's 24-23 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. Rodgers returned to the game after halftime and threw three touchdown passes in the victory. Rodgers said after the game he intends to play against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 16 but he must undergo further testing on the knee.

GREEN BAY — When it comes to basketball, Aaron Rodgers, NBA fan and minority Milwaukee Bucks owner, has always fancied himself a mid-range jumper aficionado.

So it was less than encouraging when the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback’s odds of playing in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field were described by coach Mike McCarthy using a basketball analogy.

“This is no layup,” McCarthy said Thursday morning. “That’s why it’s a day-to-day situation.”

Rodgers, who suffered a sprained left knee during Sunday night’s 24-23 come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bears, missed his second straight practice Thursday and did not come through the locker room during the period open to reporters. The Packers have their Soft Tissue Activation and Applicatoin (STAA) regimen on Fridays and have a light practice set for Saturday, but it’s possible Rodgers won’t practice at all before Sunday’s noon kickoff.

That won’t prevent him from playing, he said on Wednesday, and McCarthy concurred. Wide receiver Davante Adams said Rodgers clearly wants to play — especially against the Vikings, the team that threw the Packers’ 2017 season into chaos when linebacker Anthony Barr broke Rodgers’ collarbone early in an Oct. 15 game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“One hundred percent (he wants to play). You see the look in his eye, you know he’s hungry to do it,” Adams said. “I don’t see not playing in his future in terms of his mindset. Again, I don’t know what’s exactly going on with the injury, but I know he’s ready to attack them after going down against them last year.”

Added right tackle Bryan Bulaga, one of the team’s longest-tenured players: “He’s very stubborn with these types of things. He’s a tough-as-hell competitor. I’ve seen him play banged up, I’ve seen him hurting all week and then he gets out there on Sunday and plays a hell of a game. I feel like he has a lot of pride in being on that field and being ready to play. If he feels he can do it, he’s going to do it. There hasn’t been too many times when he hasn’t.”

Backup DeShone Kizer once again ran the No. 1 offense in practice with Rodgers rehabbing.

“I think I did a halfway decent job. There’s a lot of things you can correct in practice but for the most part I think I really understand what we’re trying to do, I understand what their defense is trying to do,” Kizer said. “If my number is called, I think I’ll be able to go out there and have some success.”

Hall calls

The Pro Football Hall of Fame released its list of 102 modern-era nominees on Thursday, and it had plenty of Packers connections.

Four of the nominees had significant Packers ties: Safety LeRoy Butler, an All-Pro and 1990s All-Decade team member who played for the team from 1990 through 2001; wide receiver Sterling Sharpe, who played for the Packers from 1988 through 1994 before his career was cut short by a neck injury; coach Mike Holmgren, who led the 1996 team to the Super Bowl XXXI title and led the team’s renaissance as coach from 1992 through 1998; and safety Nick Collins, a star of Super Bowl XLV and a three-time Pro Bowl pick who was in a second-round pick in the Packers’ 2005 draft class (with Rodgers) whose promising career was cut short by a 2011 neck injury. Three other nominees — linebacker Seth Joyner (1997), punter Sean Landeta (1998) and DT Russell Maryland (2000) — played one season each in Green Bay.

Also nominated were longtime Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., the father of Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III; guard Steve Hutchinson, who was drafted by Seattle with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2001 draft after the Packers moved up from that spot to No. 10 as part of the trade that sent backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to the Seahawks; tight end Tony Gonzalez, whom the Packers nearly acquired at 2008 trade deadline, when they thought they had a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs for a third-round pick for him; and former University of Wisconsin cornerback Troy Vincent, whom the Packers passed over in the 1992 NFL draft to take Florida State cornerback Terrell Buckley instead.

Meanwhile, Packers all-time leading receiver Donald Driver, after being nominated last year, did not make the list this year. Neither did center Jeff Saturday, who spent one season (2012) in Green Bay.

McCarthy said at the time of Collins’ retirement that he would have been a Hall of Famer had it not been for his injury, and former teammates weren’t surprised to see Collins’ name on the list.

“Having watched some of his highlights in the few short years we had together, he was something special,” Clay Matthews III said Thursday. “. I honestly believe if he didn’t have his neck injury, he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

“We had some special players in that secondary in ’09, ’10 and ’11. He was a special athlete.”

The list will be pared down to 25 semifinalists in November and then to 15 finalists in January. Those 15 finalists will then be voted on by the 48-member Hall of Fame committee on Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl. Butler was a semifinalist last year but could be among the 15 finalists this year.

Extra points

Wide receiver Randall Cobb said Kizer delivered “a great halftime speech right before we went out for the second half” against Chicago, “but obviously Aaron came back and played.” Asked what Kizer said, Cobb wouldn’t say. “What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room,” he said. …

Adams (shoulder) practiced on a limited basis after not practicing on Wednesday. … Inside linebacker Oren Burks (shoulder) practiced again on a limited basis but may be good to go for Sunday after missing the opener. … Special teams coordinator Ron Zook said Cobb (punts) and Ty Montgomery (kickoffs) will continue to handle return duties.

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