For the second straight week, Green Bay Packers inside linebacker A.J. Hawk saw limited snaps in a game.
Hawk played only eight snaps in Monday's win against the Atlanta Falcons, the fewest he's had in a game he didn't have to leave early with injury since the 2010 season opener. Last week, the ninth-year linebacker played 27 snaps against the New England Patriots.
Hawk, who has long led on-field communication for Green Bay's defense, led the Packers in defensive snaps through the season's first 11 games. Even with limited action the past two weeks, his 784 snaps are second-most on the defense this season behind cornerback Tramon Williams (845).
On Tuesday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers offered one potential explanation.
"He's been dealing with a body that, I think, hasn't been responding as well as he'd want it to at times this year," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on his weekly ESPN Milwaukee radio show Tuesday.
Hawk, 30, hasn't been listed on the Packers' injury report, and he's given no indication of any injury. Still, on the first defensive play of Green Bay's win three weeks ago in Minnesota, a hobbled Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph ran past and away from Hawk.
Rodgers, one of Hawk's closest friends on the team, said the linebacker would never let on that he's hurt if there was an injury.
"He's one of the toughest guys I've ever played with," Rodgers said. "He is, hands down, one of the greatest football warriors that I've played with. I mean, the guy has dealt with a ton of injuries over his time and played through them, and played really well through them. He's been a great Packer for us for so many years, and just embodies what it means to be a Packer.
"A great teammate, a great player, and really, really great in the community. The things that he supports, and his foundations, and just the way that he conducts himself, I think, makes all Packer fans proud. He's been a great teammate in the locker room. Nothing's changed with him. I think he's just continuing to be ready and play whatever role he's asked to play."
-- firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood