Packers' Rodgers doesn't regret his 'I own you' declaration, but knows it could come back to bite him vs. Bears
It was a statement that spawned memes, T-shirts and countless discussions; a declaration that was uttered in a passion-fueled moment and inadvertently became a defining moment for this present era of the NFL’s oldest running rivalry.
However, “I own you. I still own you,” wasn’t necessarily trash talk from Aaron Rodgers. Instead, the Green Bay Packers quarterback clarified Wednesday that his comment after running in a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in an October victory was directed at the Bears fans who were greeting him in their own special way.
“That comment was to the fans who were giving me the bird,” Rodgers said.
He readily admits his words could come back to bite him one day … but it would take a few years and more losses to truly make his statement null.
“I don't know you can question a whole lot of what I said,” Rodgers said. “You know we've had a good record over the years against them and won a lot of games at Soldier Field and at Lambeau Field … we have gotten the better of them the last, I don't know, 27-28 times we played them for the most part.”
Including playoffs, the Packers own a 102-95-6 edge in the rivalry. The scales tilt Green Bay’s way thanks in large part to the past decade, in which the Packers have won 20 of 23, and Rodgers himself has gone 22-5 against the team to the south. That’s a record worth “owning.”
“At some point, what I said will be used against me that's just part of it,” he said. “But I have no regrets for saying what I said and obviously I think the record kind of speaks for itself.
“In order to trash talk, you have to have a lot of confidence in what you've accomplished and what you're going to accomplish in the future.”
Future accomplishments will be up for the taking Sunday; yet this game will come on the heels of another week in which Rodgers doesn’t foresee himself fully practicing, due to his broken pinkie toe. The late-season bye week gave the quarterback and his fractured phalange time to rest, though, allowing an accelerated schedule for what has become a normal practice week.
“This was really, really positive, the time to heal and not do anything for now going on 10 days has been really, really helpful,” Rodgers said.
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“(I) went through all the walkthrough reps today … Wednesday's, last few weeks have been kind of mental days for me and I get as much as I possibly can in the air in rehab, and then you go down and call some plays for practice on Thursday and Friday, which has been, you know, a good routine for me.”
Despite not having had a full practice since early November, Rodgers has led the Packers to a 2-1 record since he returned from a stint on the COVID-19 list.
On Sunday, Rodgers has an opportunity to make his point once again, furthering his ownership stake, as the 9-3 Packers look to finish off their season against the 4-8 Bears. It’s an unbalanced record comparison that mirrors what has become of this series. But current records won’t matter Sunday. Instead it will be about overall records, bragging rights, trash talk and the right to say once again, “I own you.”
“It just takes one game to feel, one start really to feel that juice,” Rodgers said.
“And it's always been kind of little Green Bay against big Chicago, going back to the 1920s and I'm proud to be able to lead little Green Bay on the field, you know, for almost 30 times now against these guys.”
Alexander back on practice field
The clock on cornerback Jaire Alexander’s possible return began Wednesday but, based on the small amount of work he did, the team isn’t rushing him back.
In fact, there’s still a chance Alexander won’t return this season, but the Packers are ramping up his rehabilitation to see how the shoulder he separated in Week 4 responds to football activity. After being placed on injured reserve, Alexander spent a long time letting the ligaments in his shoulder heal while gradually increasing his rehab with the aim of playing again this season.
The Packers designated Alexander for return from injured reserve, starting the clock on a three-week window in which the All-Pro can practice without counting against the 53-man roster. At the end of the three weeks, the Packers must activate him, return him to injured reserve or release him.
Alexander stretched on the side inside the Don Hutson Center and then went through some drills with the defensive backs. He did not wear a helmet and, according to coach Matt LaFleur, was not going to do any of the 11-on-11 drills.
“Mostly individual,” LaFleur said of what Alexander would do in practice.
Neither left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) nor outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (back) returned to practice as LaFleur suggested earlier in the week was a possibility. Bakhtiari is on the 53-man roster and doesn’t need an exemption, but Smith does because he’s on injured reserve.
Injury report: Cornerback Kevin King and wide receiver Malik Taylor returned to practice on a limited basis after missing the Los Angeles Rams game, while receiver Randall Cobb (groin) did not participate.
Receiver Davante Adams (hamstring) was a limited participant.
So far so good with COVID
The NFL had a rash of COVID-19 infections after Thanksgiving weekend and a big concern in LaFleur giving the team the whole week off during the bye was whether multiple players would come back and test positive.
The Packers tested everybody on Monday and only quarterback Jordan Love was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. It’s possible a couple of positive tests could pop up late in the week, but LaFleur said he thought the players have done their best to avoid risky situations.
"I was talking to a coach that missed some time from another team and, and he's like, 'I literally go to and from work and I got it,’” LaFleur said. “So, I don't know, it's one of those things that I know I'm not smart enough to figure it out and connect all the dots in terms of how it's transmitted and how people get it.
“But I do think our guys are taking it to heart and trying to be as responsible as possible without shutting down their entire life.”