McCarthy managing around Rodgers' injuries

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy's challenge this week is figuring out how to get his offense prepared to play its best Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

It's a challenge because quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a right calf injury on the third play of the team's 38-10 victory Sunday over the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Though Rodgers was able to play superbly through the injury, it's potentially troublesome, especially given the problems he had with a left calf pull during the 2014 season.

Rodgers also suffered a left hamstring pull against Philadelphia that caused him to be a limited participant in practice all last week.

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McCarthy, speaking at his noon news conference Monday, said the players weren't due in until later and so he had not had a chance to talk to Rodgers about the injury. He said once he was able to gauge what his condition was, the coaches would come up with a practice and game plan that accounted for Rodgers' injury.

"The positive of him hurting his calf is, we’ve been through it before — if there is a positive in him getting hurt," McCarthy said. "But the challenge is, I tend to err on the side of conservative when it comes to him, and he obviously really appreciates that. As you can tell."

McCarthy was being sarcastic, in case you didn't notice. Rodgers typically wants to push things, McCarthy said, so he has to find a middle ground.

Against the Seahawks, McCarthy said he scrapped a portion of the game plan and tried to stick with things he knew wouldn't affect Rodgers' injury as much as others. The Packers had things rolling in the first half even with Rodgers hobbling around, but McCarthy said he made the mistake of trying to protect Rodgers too much to start the third quarter.

He went to a power running game with a full-house backfield and got nowhere on the first possession.

"If you look at the first series of the second half, I mean, that was poor," McCarthy said of the three runs for minus-5 yards and one pass for 5 yards. "So we went back to really how we were playing there in the second quarter. That’s the challenge; you have to make sure that you’re not trying to give him too much because he can obviously do it all.

"But that’s the in-game adjustment challenge that you always have to go through."

The pregame challenge is allowing enough practice time for Rodgers to stay sharp without aggravating the injury and coming up with a game plan that will allow him to make it through the entire game. He probably won't be putting in a lot of bootleg fakes, sprint-outs or seven-step drops.

Rodgers, who completed 18 of 23 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns (150.8 rating), didn't seem to have a lot of problems moving around inside the pocket and was able to buy himself some time ducking outside once in awhile. But he was not looking to run or scramble all over the place and got rid of the ball in a timely matter.

"I think he showed that, just his ability to reset his feet," McCarthy said. "I mean, if you can’t reset your feet, I don’t know how you can perform. But his ability to reset his feet and extend the progression of the route concepts, was key. As long as he can do that, then we’ll be fine."

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