GREEN BAY - After the howitzer pass, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers still had to run some 60 yards downfield Sunday before he could spike the football and set up a game-winning field goal.
Easier said than done on his strained right calf. Rodgers hobbled more than ran after his long completion to Jordy Nelson, finding time to tell left guard Lane Taylor to stay on the sideline. Taylor, who bruised his hip one play earlier, was trying to rejoin the offense after missing his first snap all season.
Rodgers said the chaos combined with the cold helped numb his calf.
“At that point,” Rodgers said, “you kind of got a jolt of adrenaline.”
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Rodgers made it through four quarters of the Packers' 30-27 victory Sunday over the Chicago Bears similar to how he made that 60-yard jog. Leaning on a jolt of adrenaline, he played all 61 snaps on his strained right calf.
He was tested early. On the Packers' initial third down, Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski rushed unblocked, forcing Rodgers to slide in the pocket.
It was the first of many times Rodgers wasn’t a statue with the football. He was hit 12 times against the Bears, including four sacks and three carries. None of the contact injured Rodgers’ calf any worse.
He said the initial third down showed he had more mobility than expected.
“Taking a hit,” Rodgers said, “is not really about your calf position. Escaping is really the thing, and moving in the pocket, that I'm concerned with my calf. And my ability to move, subtle movements. I felt good, really the first third down of the game, (Kwiatkoski) comes clean and I kind of slide some to the left, kind of a quick movement in the pocket and threw it to Jared (Cook) for a first down. At that point, I knew I was able to make some quick movements in the pocket.
“As the game extended, I felt some freedom moving a little bit. It actually felt better kind of quick movements, then the jogging. Like, jogging on the field or off the field was actually more painful than the quick movements. But taking a hit is kind of something you learn as a player in this league on how to try and avoid some of those injury-ridden hits.”
Rodgers said he has a chance to be “closer to 100 percent” healthy when the Packers host the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday.
Late in the season, he Packers are emphasizing health and fresh legs. Coach Mike McCarthy said his practice plan for the entire team is “a low workload” this week. He said it’s even more important than most years because of the Packers' early, Week 4 bye.
“We’ve got to make sure we give these guys a chance to get their bodies back,” McCarthy said.