Packers notes: Without Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers putting new spin on ritual
GREEN BAY – If Aaron Rodgers had his way, the Green Bay Packers quarterback would get one more football spin in the end zone with his former receiver Friday.
It’s unclear whether Rodgers will play at the Oakland Raiders, but he’ll be in the same building with Jordy Nelson. For years, the two concluded their pregame warmups seeing who could spin a football longer in the end zone. It’s unlikely, Rodgers said, they’ll get a chance Friday.
Rodgers said he spoke with Nelson this week – the two still chat “a bunch,” he said – and was informed the longtime Packers receiver has a new pregame routine.
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“So we can’t play catch before the game,” Rodgers said knowingly. “I’m a little disappointed by that. Which means I won’t be spinning any type of football with him in an end zone. He’s changed. He’s a new guy.”
Rodgers’ comments were in jest. He understands Nelson’s new role with the Raiders. Besides, Rodgers said, he has a new end-zone companion.
Before last week’s exhibition against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rodgers and receiver Randall Cobb had a spin off.
“Either Family Night or the first game,” Rodgers said, “I spun it by myself. I told him after that, ‘Too soon. Too soon.’”
There’s always a high level of caution against injuries in the preseason, but the Packers have reason to be more careful this week than most.
Inside the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the Packers will play on the only NFL surface that doubles as a baseball field. It used to be one of three stadiums that hosted both sports, but the San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles and the Miami Dolphins no longer share a home with the Miami Marlins.
Veteran cornerback Tramon Williams said it’s his first time ever playing on a baseball field, and admitted he’s concerned.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to feel,” Williams said. “I hear some stories about Oakland’s field. I have to make sure I have my feet right and bring some extra cleats. I’m not sure how the field is going to be.”
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Usually, teams play their starters more snaps during the third week of the preseason. It’s unclear how coach Mike McCarthy will approach Friday’s kickoff, but Rodgers and several veterans on offense have been limited to the scout team this week.
Regardless, McCarthy said, the field conditions won’t affect what his team needs to accomplish.
“Both teams have to play on it,” said McCarthy, who used to see the Raiders more frequently when he was an assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs. “I had some experience – it’s been many moons ago – but being in that division, we used to have San Diego and Oakland that we went through there yet. It’s really part of your pregame, making sure you have the right shoes on, and getting out there and getting comfortable coming off the grass onto the dirty.
“Really, we have a goal that we have to hit as a team,” McCarthy said. “At the end of the day, it’s about individual opportunity. That’s the forefront, that’s the priority. There’s a lot of things that you’d like to see accomplished, too.”