Rodgers sits out Packers practice, still expected to start
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Aaron Rodgers didn't practice Wednesday because of a lingering left calf injury. The quarterback left no doubt about his plans for Sunday when the Green Bay Packers host the Dallas Cowboys.
"No, I'm going Sunday," Rodgers said. "Just a matter of how."
Missing practice was part of the plan for Rodgers, who has dealt with the injury for about three weeks. While the Packers practiced inside the frigid Hutson Center training facility, Rodgers stayed exclusively in the training room for treatment.
He hopes that occasional acupuncture will also help, along with the valuable rest that the Packers received for earning a bye for the opening round of the playoffs. It's possible Rodgers could also wear a wrap to further protect his lower left leg.
There is progress, though "it's never enough for Aaron," coach Mike McCarthy said. "But I think the training staff feels good about it and we feel confident in the direction we're going."
Rodgers at less than 100 percent health is still better than most other quarterbacks. Two weeks ago against Detroit, Rodgers had to be carted to the locker room after aggravating the calf injury.
He limped back on to the field in the middle of the third quarter, throwing for one score and tumbling in from 1 yard for another to help lead the Packers to victory and a fourth straight NFC North crown.
Rodgers is such a stickler for preparation that no one in the locker room doubts the team's leader can play well without practice.
"We would definitely love to be able to have that preparation, but health is the most important thing for him at this time. You've got to trust the system," receiver Randall Cobb said.
The injury, though, has limited Rodgers' mobility the last two weeks, which in turn has affected his trademark ability to extend plays. That mobility has bailed out the Packers in potentially troublesome situations time and again in Rodgers' seven years as starter.
The rest of the Packers have promised they will help pick up any slack.
In the passing game, that means an offensive line that has been playing well might need to hold blocks longer to protect Rodgers in what would have otherwise been a scrambling situation.
Receivers who must be prepared in order to earn Rodgers' trust and targets must be even sharper on the field.
"Just making sure you're creating more separation and just doing everything you can to make sure you're running your route as well as possible, make it less (stressful for) him," rookie wideout Davante Adams said.
Rodgers didn't roll out much the last two games after getting hurt. The Packers lined him up in shotgun formations much of the time, even on running plays. Rodgers still displayed his typically accurate arm in making quick-strike tosses on slants and other short routes.
In the win against Tampa Bay, Rodgers used "no-look" passes to try to take advantage when the defense was in zone coverage.
"Look at the No. 3 receiver and throw it to No. 2. Did that a few times against Tampa, and the reaction from the defender is always fun," Rodgers said. "It's just a matter of manipulating defenders with your eye control."
And even with the sore calf, don't forget that Rodgers still called for a quarterback sneak against Detroit that led to a 1-yard score.
"Well you never know when he's going to extend. He may be limited with mobility right now, but you look at last week, or the week before in Detroit, he still moved around," Cobb said. "We stress week in and week out, regardless what's going on back at quarterback (to be able) to create separation at the line of scrimmage and get open on your routes."
NOTES: DT Josh Boyd (knee) and TE Brandon Bostick (illness) also missed practice. CB Davon House (shoulder) was limited, along with OL Josh Sitton for a lingering toe injury. ... McCarthy kept the doors open at the indoor practice field to let in the arctic air. "You didn't like it?" he joked to a reporter. "It was 22 degrees inside, so that's about what we're looking for at game time."
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