Recovering Rodgers helps Packers’ Hundley get settled at QB
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers is back at Lambeau Field, his surgically repaired right collarbone feeling well enough that Green Bay teammates say he is walking around without a sling.
The two-time NFL MVP is weeks away from being able to return to Packers practice — if he returns at all. But just the sight of Rodgers in the building can give teammates a lift.
For now, it’s up to backup Brett Hundley to get the passing game going again when Green Bay hosts the Detroit Lions on Monday night.
“Me and Aaron talk a lot. Even when he was playing, we still talked a lot. It’s the same, now it’s a different type of talk. He’s telling me stuff, and it’s good for me,” Hundley said on Thursday.
The Packers returned from a bye week refreshed with sorely-needed rest. The medical report is still lengthy, but more injured players are doing a little more work in practice.
Of most interest to Hundley might be the possibility that the entire starting offensive line could be back together with left guard Lane Taylor having returned to practice from an ankle injury. He was limited on Thursday.
“We’re getting close to being fully healthy as a team,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
Add Rodgers to the list of Packers making progress. Rodgers went on injured reserve on Oct. 20 after breaking his collarbone against the Minnesota Vikings, so he must sit out six weeks before he can practice, and eight weeks before he would be eligible to return to the active roster.
Under that scenario, the earliest that Rodgers might be able to return to the active roster would be the Dec. 17 game in Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers.
“Yeah it’s nice to see him back in the building, kind of out of his sling,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “I don’t think anyone would guess that he’s had surgery if you just saw him walking around so hopefully that puts him on pace to whenever it is that we’ll get him back.”
Nothing has changed with Rodgers’ timeline, McCarthy said this week. The Packers have maintained since Rodgers went down on Oct. 15 in Minnesota that he could miss the rest of the season.
“I mean, the timeline hasn’t changed, that I’ve spoken on. Obviously, Aaron is on IR. So the focus is really for him to go through his rehab, and get healthy,” McCarthy said.
For now, this is Hundley’s team. The third-year backup ran for 44 yards and a touchdown against the Saints in his first NFL start, but the passing game floundered down the stretch.
Hundley finished 12 of 25 for 87 yards against New Orleans. Throwing out of the pocket is an area where coaches are looking for improvement.
“Our offense is our offense. There will be probably a couple more things built around me, but ... I’ve been running this for three years, so I don’t want to change it because this is what I know and this is what we do,” Hundley said.
And Rodgers is around to offer tips and guidance as necessary.
Rodgers “plays the game at a different level, a different pace. The biggest thing he can get to Brett is just to play a little faster,” McCarthy said. “But the fact of the matter is we’ve got to get dialed into it in (the) game plan, and that process is the same for Aaron than it is for any quarterback. He’ll definitely help Brett with that.”
NOTES: The release this week of DT Ricky Jean Francois leaves a spot on the active roster open, potentially for rookie LB Vince Biegel. The rookie could be activated from the reserve/physically unable to perform list after missing the first seven games of the season with a foot injury. He could be a contributor on special teams and a pass rush that has generated just three sacks in the past four games. ... The team will use one of its two designations to return from injured reserve on OL Jason Spriggs (hamstring), who returned to practice on Thursday. The other spot will likely be left open for Rodgers’ potential return. ... TE Martellus Bennett (shoulder) missed practice.