GREEN BAY – Five days after Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said Aaron Rodgers first experienced tightness in his back, the team’s starting quarterback missed practice with the ailment Sunday at Ray Nitschke Field.
Rodgers was scheduled to play about a quarter in Thursday night’s preseason game in Baltimore but was a game-day scratch. Afterward, LaFleur said the back issue first occurred on the day the team traveled east. After two days off the field, the team returned Sunday to a padded practice session – but without Rodgers.
"We try not to make it different," Packers receiver Davante Adams said of practicing without Rodgers. "That’s the goal. We want to go out there and definitely have the same juice and be clean. Obviously, the quarterbacks, they have to do what they do to get ready for the practice, but we try to approach it the same way if not better and make sure we’re all coming out there with the right energy."
The Packers are preparing to play the Oakland Raiders on Thursday in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada for their third preseason game. If it were a regular-season week, LaFleur acknowledged Rodgers would be trying to get on the field.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that would be the case,” LaFleur said. “I think even the other night. But with it being the preseason, it wasn’t worth it.”
Rodgers was held out of the preseason opener against Houston on Aug. 8.
“You know, I think that he’s gotten a lot of great work in,” LaFleur said. “You’d like to get him some game action. Again, he’s a veteran guy that’s played a lot of football. I mean, 14 years in the league. There’s not much that he hasn’t seen. So it’s not overly concerning to me.”
Last year Rodgers did not miss a game despite breaking a bone in his leg and spraining his knee in the season opener against Chicago. He missed nine games in 2017 and seven games in 2013 with broken collarbones.
When asked if having Rodgers suit up for the exhibition finale against Kansas City on Aug. 29 to get him some game reps was a possibility, LaFleur wouldn’t look that far ahead on the calendar.
“That’s something maybe we’d consider, but with the way our opener falls on a Thursday, I don’t know,” he said. “I’d have to put more thought into it. Right now I’m just kind of taking it day by day to see where we’re at with him.”
LaFleur noted it is a “day-by-day” situation for his starting quarterback at this juncture and was asked if he had any long-term concerns about Rodgers, considering it is a back issue.
“Knock on wood I hope it’s not,” he said. “Just like today, next guy’s gotta step up and step in. It doesn’t mean our standards change. It’s just next man up.”
The next men were DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle, who each received some repetitions with other first-unit players.
"Whenever '12’s' not there, you have to account for something because he’s such a presence out there," Boyle said. "Even when he’s not super rah-rah, he’s still Aaron Rodgers and you still respect everything he does and says, so you have to account for that. I don’t think there’s any added pressure or you have to do any different, it’s more of a ‘Hey, we’re getting more reps now, we have to make sure we’re verbal, making sure we’re doing things that Aaron would expect out of every single teammate."
Those practice reps included the first look at the Packers’ no-huddle offense, an installation Rodgers said he was looking forward to running.
“It was pretty sloppy I thought, overall,” LaFleur said of the offense's performance. “That’s why I said what I said in terms of if you’re missing somebody, the standards don’t change. Everybody else has to pick up their play around them.
“It takes everyone. It takes all 11.”