Packers rookie Josh Myers confident in his comeback from knee injury after getting reacquainted with Aaron Rodgers

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GREEN BAY - He broke his sesamoid bone in college and didn’t miss a game. His college coach begged, pleaded with him to take one drive, at least a few snaps, off.

Josh Myers refused.

The Green Bay Packers rookie center’s toughness is unquestioned. So when Myers hobbled off the field in Chicago midway through October and didn’t return until last week’s game at Detroit, missing 10 games in between, it was clear he had a significant injury.

Myers wouldn’t divulge any details of the injury that cost him more than half of his rookie season, but he said his knee felt good after playing 32 snaps against the Lions.

“I feel great,” Myers said. “I have no reservations about not being able to go.”

Whatever injury he dealt with, Myers knew the recovery would not be easy. He had hoped to return one week earlier, when the Packers hosted the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field, but “hit a wall” in his rehab. Myers did not divulge his setback either.

Then there was the mental toll. Myers had never missed a game in his career, making it uncomfortable when the second rounder out of Ohio State was forced to sit and watch for 10 straight.

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Packers center Josh Myers is aided by team physician Patrick McKenzie, left, and a member of the training staff after being injured during an Oct. 18 game at Chicago. He returned Jan. 9 against the Detroit Lions.

“That was really hard,” Myers said. “So that was a new experience for me and something I had to fight through for sure. It was hard physically too. It hurt, and it was a struggle to get back, but that’s just kind of part of it. You accept that part of it, but the mental side of it was tough.”

Myers feels especially confident after getting reacquainted with Aaron Rodgers last week. The list of “boxes” Myers wanted to check was long. He needed to test his endurance, ensure his knee was in football shape. As a rookie, Myers also had a chance to test his aptitude of coach Matt LaFleur’s playbook, all the presnap checks and communication that are required from the center.

Now he’s looking forward to being available throughout the postseason, however long the Packers run carries.

“I did hit a wall,” Myers said, “but I knew it wasn’t a bad one. And I knew I would be able to get through that, and my pass sets felt good and football movements all felt good. It was more just dead sprinting forward that I was struggling with. Once I realized that, I was pretty confident I’d be back this year.

“About a week later, that subsided and I was good to go for Detroit.”

High praise for Matt LaFleur

When a team and a coach find success, others will flock to their example, wanting to emulate the process. The Packers have found another level under LaFleur. After three straight NFC North titles and another No. 1 seed, other teams will inevitably want to copy what LaFleur is doing with the Packers. 

No small part of that success is thanks to having reigning MVP Rodgers at quarterback. But the quarterback also defers a ton of credit to his coach and the philosophy he says works. 

There is beauty in simplicity. 

“Head coach is so much more than just a guy standing up there in front of a team before the game saying things,” Rodgers said of LaFleur.

“You have to put a staff together. You have to trust that staff, you have to delegate. You have to kind of set the tone for the work ethic that happens around the facility, set expectations. I think there are a couple of those simple things that he did when he came in which resonated with a lot of people.” 

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In short, he introduced three rules, which Rodgers kept private, and asked his players to simply follow those three directives. It’s reminiscent of former head coach and Hall of Famer John Madden, Rodgers noted. And after previous eras, LaFleur’s introduction caught his players' attention. 

“The fact that often this game gets over-complicated by certain things or verbiage or coach speak or whatever it might be," Rodgers said "When he came in and said I got three rules, I think everybody kind of perked up a little bit, sat up a little straighter in their seat and said, ‘OK, what are these three rules?’”

LaFleur is a part of the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree that relies on power football.

LaFleur has tweaked his scheme to Rodgers' strengths, but the foundation is the same. According to Rodgers, “obviously this scheme has been productive,” with the quarterback pointing to the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers all as examples. 

“(You) gotta have a combination of the scheme, the personality, the simplicity, the delegation, and all those things combined," Rodgers said. "So I think he deserves a lot of credit and he should be coach of the year.”

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