Rodgers will play hard count by ear

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers calls a play during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on September 11, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

GREEN BAY – News alert: It’s going to be loud at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday night in Minneapolis.

The Green Bay Packers are privy to that information even though this will be their first appearance inside Metrodome XL. They’ve heard the worst Minnesota Vikings fans have to offer and are expecting nothing less when the two teams meet on Sunday Night Football.

It’s a given that the Packers will use the silent count to keep everyone moving together at the snap of the ball, but an oft-used aspect of their offense they might not be able to use at all is the hard count.

If quarterback Aaron Rodgers is using the silent count, he’s not barking out signals and that means it’s going to be hard for him to get the Vikings to show their defense or jump offside.

Last year, Rodgers started to use the hard count more on the road. In Chicago, he got the defense to jump three times. In Denver, Carolina and Detroit he got the defense to jump once.

He even got the Vikings to jump on fourth down in the Metrodome.

So, will he be able to use it this year?

“It's got to be the right time,” Rodgers said. “I think early in the game, it's going to be tough to hear anything. You know on the road we like to use a silent count like all teams do and you just have to figure out those opportunities when you can use your verbal checks and stuff.

“A lot of the best times are after first downs, because the crowd obviously usually gets loud on third down and then if you can convert there's that lull when it quiets down a little bit for the next first down. You learn kind of the flow of the crowd.”

Rodgers had mixed results in Jacksonville, drawing the Jaguars once, but also having a third-and-goal play go haywire because not everybody interpreted the call Rodgers made at the line the same way.

Still, it was a good example of his ability to get teams to jump even on the road. He got second-year end Dante Fowler to jump on third and 11 at the Packers 2, helping to create a more manageable down and distance. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson jumped offside later in the game, but it appeared to be in reaction to center JC Tretter pointing to a Jaguars player while making a protection call.

The Vikings have experience with Rodgers’ hard count and probably will practice against it this week, but how often they actually hear it might depend on how well they perform. The better the defensive performance the more sustained the crowd noise will be.

“The crowds in Minnesota have always been loud,” Rodgers said. “The old Metrodome was rocking there a few years. You've got to withstand that surge of energy that starts. I just talked to their media. I guess the Viking on the motorcycle (Ragnar) is not going to be there, so it will be a little quieter in pregame.

“But we expect it to get rocking when we get out there on offense.”

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