GREEN BAY - Quarterback Aaron Rodgers never had suffered a neck stinger before.
“Doesn’t say a whole lot about my tackling ability as a young player,” he joked.
Well, he’s had one now.
Vikings end Danielle Hunter hit Rodgers from the front and linebacker Eric Kendricks hit him from the side during a third-quarter sack, sending Rodgers tumbling on his backside. As he went down, it appeared his neck got bent awkwardly and when everyone else got up, Rodgers stayed down.
“It’s a burning sensation kind of in your neck and in your shoulder for me,” Rodgers said. “Anything that involves the neck, you’ve got to be cautious with it.”
Rodgers said that after the initial shock was over and he was on the sideline, he had to convince the medical staff that he didn’t have a concussion. When he initially got on his feet, he looked a little wobbly.
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BOX SCORE: Packers 38, Vikings 25
Rodgers told team physicians Pat McKenzie and John Gray that he had suffered a stinger.
“The thing with saying you have a stinger, a lot of times that’s code for concussion,” Rodgers said. “That’s kind of the go-to excuse or injury.
“It wasn’t with me; it was an actual stinger, but you have to pass a concussion protocol there, so Doc Gray was asking me some questions and I tried to give him some slightly comical answers.”
Rodgers said his calf injury was no worse for wear. He said it bothers him more when he jogs than when he actually makes quick movements.
An injury the Packers will keep an eye on is with cornerback LaDarius Gunter, who was removed in the second quarter because of an elbow injury,
Gunter, whose right elbow was padded during the game, said he played through a “tingly” elbow even before Vikings right tackle Jeremiah Sirles’ late, blindside hit that received a 15-yard penalty on the first play of the second quarter.
Gunter said he’ll have tests on his elbow Monday. He would not say whether ligaments were damaged, but was clear he expects to play next Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
“I can’t really tell anything right now,” Gunter said. “We’ll see the doctor Monday, and we’ll go from there. … It just kind of went tingly for a while, and they just wanted to take precautionary measures about it.”
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga also left with a shoulder injury. Safety Micah Hyde returned after limping off the field in the first half with an ankle injury.
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Before Sunday, rookie receiver Geronimo Allison had caught four passes for 45 yards. Against the Vikings, he caught four for 66. Two were third-down conversions and all four resulted in first downs.
“It was amazing, just knowing that (Aaron Rodgers) trusts me, the coaching staff trusts me, the organization trusts me to go out there and do my job and be successful doing it,” Allison said. “It speaks for me and it speaks for the organization.
“It just builds confidence with me, with (Rodgers), just being on the same page. When you do your job and you’re on the same page with Aaron, everything works out.”
In the trenches
Vikings right defensive end Everson Griffen earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2015 and went into the game with eight sacks and a team-leading 63 quarterback hits. But Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari limited him to one tackle and one quarterback hit.
“He’s a hell of a player and he competes,” Bakhtiari said. “Whatever the score is, I’m going to get his best game out of him for 60 minutes. He’s a good player and he deserves all the accolades he’s had. I’ve always said if you want to be the best you’ve got to be the best. I always enjoy competing against a guy who plays at a high level."
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A day before Christmas, Packers rookie defensive tackle Kenny Clark got what he called the easiest fumble recovery of his life.
Clark, the team’s first-round draft pick in April, was lined up square over Vikings center Nick Easton early in the second quarter. Easton dribbled the snap about a foot behind him, but his backpedal kept the football between him and Clark.
The rookie merely had to fall on the ball in front of him.
“I don’t know if it was a miscommunication,” Clark said, “from the snapping standpoint. I don’t know if he thought Sam Bradford was under center, or if his hands just slipped off the ball when he hiked it. I don’t know what it was, but as soon as he snapped it, the ball just started rolling.
“I looked down and saw the ball, and everything just stops.”
Clark emerged from the pile hoisting the football above his head. He got a loud ovation from Lambeau Field crowd, partly because it was a critical turnover for a struggling defense, and partly because it was Clark’s first career turnover.
The Packers, gifted a short field, scored a touchdown three plays later to take a commanding 21-6 lead. It was one of two touchdowns following Vikings turnovers Saturday. Later in the second quarter, they scored a touchdown five plays after Clay Matthews’ strip sack.
That play, Clark admitted, was a bit more difficult than his fumble recovery.
“I’ve never had one of those,” Clark said. “I’m happy I got it though.”