GREEN BAY - Wednesday marked the fifth day of practice Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has missed since he sprained his left knee Sept. 9 against the Chicago Bears.
It might not seem like a lot, but when your best player isn’t on the field during the heart of the practice week, you can’t help but wonder if it affects the offense’s performance.
Coach Mike McCarthy thinks it affects the entire team’s performance.
“He’s clearly the guy that probably stirs the drink down there on Hinkle Field,” McCarthy said. “He’s so competitive. Once again, the quarterback position has to bring that to your program. You cannot grow during the week if your quarterbacks aren’t bringing it.”
When it comes to practice snaps, Rodgers is loath to give up more than a few to his backups in normal circumstances because he values the work so much. Besides using the time to get his timing down with receivers, running backs and the offensive line, he gets to feel how certain plays will work and what adjustments might need to be made.
Rodgers isn’t being afforded that opportunity during the two mid-week practices, which are the most important of the week. The Packers use Friday as a recovery day and Saturday they hold a jog-through to finalize their game plan.
Each of the last two weeks, Rodgers has spent Wednesday through Friday rehabbing his knee and then practicing on Saturday. If he didn’t do it that way, he might not be able to play on Sunday.
“I do love to compete," Rodgers said. “There’s no doubt about it. It is difficult and different for me to not be out there. I’m one who always loves being out there because you’re not just competing but you’re working on things with the guys and working on the game plan, especially on days like Wednesday and Thursday.
“So that’s been obviously a struggle for me.”
Without saying it directly, McCarthy may need more out of backups DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle in practice. Neither of them is going to be Rodgers, but they’ve got to give the the offense an idea of what it will be like when the starting quarterback is throwing the passes.
“I mean, they’ve got to have it,” McCarthy said. “We always had it with Brett (Favre), we have it with Aaron, and our young guys, it’s a great example. So, when (DeShone) gets in there and Tim gets in there, the competition level, the culture, the demonstrative voice in the huddle, all those things are important because that man has the ball in his hand every play.”