Aaron Rodgers won't have to worry about injured Vikings pass rusher Danielle Hunter
GREEN BAY - Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter was placed on injured reserve by the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday, meaning he won’t be terrorizing Aaron Rodgers on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
A source told ESPN that Hunter is dealing with a neck injury.
In his five seasons in Minnesota, 5.5 of Hunter’s 54.5 career sacks have come against the Packers. Thirty-two of those sacks have come at home.
The news came as a surprise to the Packers quarterback as he sat down for his weekly Zoom media session late Wednesday afternoon.
“He’s a fantastic player, so that’s, you know, that’s definitely a loss for their defense,” Rodgers said.
The Packers listed five players on their season-opening injury report with right tackle Billy Turner (knee) and outside linebacker Randy Ramsey (groin) missing the session. But, Wednesday marked the return to field work for defensive tackle Montravius Adams (toe) and safety Raven Greene (quadriceps).
Adams practiced for the first time since being carted off Ray Nitschke Field on Aug. 18. Greene injured his leg in practice on Aug. 23.
Greene, Adams and inside linebacker Oren Burks (groin) practiced in a limited fashion.
With the addition of Hunter to IR, the Vikings had no players listed on their injury report.
Rodgers sticking with wristband
Even with better familiarity in his second season operating Matt LaFleur’s offense, Rodgers expects to continue wearing a wristband with plays this season.
Rodgers started wearing the wristband early last season to help streamline communication between him and his head coach, who relays plays into the huddle before each snap. It would be natural for Rodgers to have a better grasp of the playbook in his second season, but that increased knowledge isn’t enough to eliminate the wristband.
“I don’t believe it’s possible with the length of many of these calls in our offense to not wear a wristband moving forward,” Rodgers said. “So I expect to probably have that on because the density of some of these plays lends to really needing to wear that to streamline the head coach to quarterback play call, and then myself to the offense and the huddle.”
Rodgers said the wristband is part of an overall effort to expedite the offense’s operation this fall. The Packers were too often pushing the play clock last season. LaFleur has expressed a desire for quicker tempo.
“We’re really trying to get in and out of the huddle a little bit better,” Rodgers said. “We took a look at some of our delays last year, and some of our up-against-the-clock snaps, and we’d like to get some better tempo coming in and out of the huddle. I think the way to do that is to use the wristband.”
Vikings' Zimmer finds a way
The Packers’ intention to keep under wraps their plans for Sunday’s opener hasn’t stopped Vikings coach Mike Zimmer from preparing his team.
Zimmer paid close attention to the Packers all offseason, even being aware of their public relations’ enforcement of general manager Brian Gutekunst’s limitations on reporting from Packers camp practices.
“I heard you guys were banned from the tweets,” Zimmer told reporters who cover the Packers on Wednesday, referencing the Packers’ media policy that prohibited tweeting who was taking reps on the first, second and third string. “That’s OK. It is a little bit of an unknown. I think every first game there’s unknown. They’re gonna have new things. We’re gonna have new things. That’s always going to be part of the case.”
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Zimmer won’t know what the Packers unveil on offense and defense until they take the field noon Sunday inside U.S. Bank Stadium. He has his own ideas, though.
When asked about Packers return specialist Tyler Ervin, Zimmer went into a detailed description of how the team might use the versatile speedster on offense.
“There’s so many things they can do with him,” Zimmer said, “with the rockets and put him in the backfield, catching the ball, screens, use him as a wide receiver. Do you treat it as a two-back formation? Do you treat it as a three-by-one or a two-by-two or an empty-backfield set? There’s just so many things that you can do with him. Depending on who the other back is in the game with him, it adds to more things. Are they going to put Aaron Jones out and him in the backfield or vice-versa? It’s just another weapon that they have.”
In any year, the unscouted looks generally part of season openers would be less surprising between teams with as much familiarity as the Packers and Vikings. The Packers tried to withhold as much information from their opponent as possible in camp, an attempt at offsetting that familiarity. The team has yet to name a starting right tackle, and LaFleur has made clear he has no intention to before Sunday.
There’s only so much room for surprise between divisional rivals, however.
“We gotta play whoever plays,” Zimmer said. “We’ll do our best to study whoever is out there. All that stuff goes by the wayside as soon as we take the first snap, I think.”