Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played last season with a broken leg

April 9, 2019

GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers’ 2018 season began with a broken leg and ended with a concussion that he admitted was “scary” – as if missing the playoffs and playing at a level well below his established norms wasn’t bad enough.

Although, perhaps the injury he suffered in the Green Bay Packers’ regular-season opener against Chicago had something to do with all that.

Detailing the specifics of his injury and the concussion for the first time in an ESPN Wisconsin interview that aired Tuesday morning, the Packers quarterback said he suffered a tibial plateau fracture and a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the Packers’ 24-23 come-from-behind victory over the Bears at Lambeau Field on Sept. 9. Rodgers left that game riding in the passenger seat of the team’s medical cart but emerged from the locker room in the second half to lead the Packers back from a 20-0 deficit.

Rodgers called the knee injury “very painful” and described it as the fracture coming on the “lateral side” of his knee.

“If you watch the hit back, just my two bones that come together on the outside just kind of made an indent fracture. Very painful,” Rodgers explained. “The good thing was it’s not super load-bearing every single time. But there’s definitely some movements and things you do naturally that affected it.

“The MCL was frustrating as well because it did start to get better and then Christian Jones tackled me on the sideline in Detroit early in the game (in Week 5) and it basically reset the whole thing. After the first quarter of the first game, I really wasn’t 100 percent the entire year. That’s not an excuse for the way I played or didn’t play, but it limited my mobility for a good part of the season.”

The injury also limited Rodgers’ practice time, which likely was a factor in his struggles to get on the same page with veteran free-agent tight end Jimmy Graham and young wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and J’Mon Moore after injuries to Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison and the offseason departure of longtime go-to receiver Jordy Nelson, who was cut in March 2018.

Rodgers still started all 16 games and finished with a 97.6 passer rating after throwing for 4,442 yards, 25 touchdowns and only two interceptions. But he only completed 62.3 percent of his passes — his second-worst season completion percentage as a starter — and threw more balls away than any other quarterback in the league.

Rodgers wore a brace for more than half the season to protect the knee, but he said he was able to avoid surgery, instead opting after consultation with team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie for “a series of shots in the offseason, which I’ve done before.” Rodgers said his knee was not a problem during the team’s first official workout of the offseason on Monday.

“Especially as an older player, it’s great. I feel great. My legs feel good. My feet feel good,” Rodgers said. “It would be nice to be a little healthier from the start. It’s something you can’t avoid, but I’ve made some changes to my offseason training regimen and approach and the kind of team that I have around me, which I think is going to help.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers revealed that the concussion he sustained against the Lions in the Dec. 30 season finale affected his vision to the point that he left the game after playing through the after-effects of a hit on the first offensive series of the game.

After leaving the game, Rodgers was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for examination and observation before being allowed to return to the stadium before game’s end.

“Getting that concussion was disappointing and also a little scary, honestly, especially the older you get,” Rodgers said.

Asked why it was scary, Rodgers replied, “I couldn’t see. I lost vision. Definitely peripheral. I got hit and I came to the sidelines and I was sitting on the bench and I went back out there and by that third series, the normal 180-(degree) plus peripheral (vision) shrunk — to like blinders.”

The hit came on Rodgers’ first dropback of the game, when he was sacked by Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis. Rodgers helmet flew off from the hit but he remained in the game for the rest of that series and played two more series before giving way to backup DeShone Kizer.

“It’s the first time I ever took myself out of a game,” Rodgers said. “But I didn’t have any lingering effects. I was talking with our docs and I felt like I would have been cleared, actually, that next week. … I had zero recurring issues.”