Packers Hoping Less is More with Rodgers

Compared to past preseasons, Aaron Rodgers has barely worked up a sweat in the three exhibitions. It's an interesting dichotomy, with Mike McCarthy wanting the offense to play with more rhythm than it did to start last season but the starting quarterback getting just five series.

Heading into the start of last year's regular season, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn't happy with the team's "rhythm and timing." He vowed that would change heading into the upcoming season.

In that light, it will be especially interesting to see how McCarthy handles Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense when the Packers visit Kansas City in Thursday's regular-season finale.

Typically, the No. 1 offense barely works up a sweat in the final preseason game. Rodgers didn't take a single snap in the 2010 finale, with one series of eight plays in 2011 and one series of seven plays in 2012.

But coming off of Friday night, when Rodgers played just one series, does McCarthy want Rodgers heading into a Week 1 showdown at San Francisco with so little game action?

Comparatively, the numbers from the last four preseasons are incredibly interesting.

Taking just the first three preseason games into account, Rodgers played 72 snaps and 12 series in 2012, 67 snaps and 11 series in 2011 and 78 snaps and 13 series in 2010.

Through the three games of this preseason, Rodgers has taken just 45 snaps and been on the field for five series.

"I do, yeah," Rodgers said when asked if he's gotten enough work. "I've played a lot of football. I'll make sure my conditioning is where it needs to be for the first game and we'll be fine."

Friday night was remarkable for its departure from standard thinking. McCarthy warned earlier in the week that this wouldn't be a "dress rehearsal" for the regular season.

He wasn't kidding.

While the No. 1 offensive line played the entire first half, Rodgers was on the field for just one series and 10 plays. Contrast that to 2012, when he played six series and 41 snaps against Cincinnati. Or 2011, when he played six series and 34 snaps against Indianapolis. Or 2010, when he played seven series and 41 snaps against Indianapolis.

In the case of Rodgers, he's 29 years old and entering his sixth season as the starting quarterback. With so much on his plate, it makes sense to cut back on his workload. It's not as if he hasn't been sharp during a typically sterling training camp. Plus, there's little reason to risk him behind an offensive line featuring rookie David Bakhtiari at left tackle and second-year Don Barclay at right tackle, and there's not much reason to have him working with a diluted receiving corps missing injured standouts Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

"We have a process and, frankly, this was part of my message to the team: We're going to trust the process," McCarthy said. "I feel very good about the process. You can't have it both ways. We try. We want to win the game, we wanted to win tonight, especially at home, but there was more information that was needed. That was what we juggled. I thought it was important for a number of our players to play early."

Still, if getting the offense into a groove is the goal of this training camp, the results haven't been especially encouraging. Rodgers has generated nine points and 14 first downs in three games, compared to 24 points and 13 first downs in 2012, 24 points and 23 first downs in 2011 and 49 points and 38 first downs in 2010.

But with questions about the backup tight ends, the receivers beyond the Big Three, building depth in general and who would be the No. 2 quarterback should something happen to Rodgers, there are bigger fish to fry.

In that light, McCarthy is taking his typical big-picture approach.

"It's part of the game. It's part of developing your football team," McCarthy said. "I'm sure everybody goes about it different. I'm not really interested in how people are doing it in this new structure. We have a talented personnel department and a talented coaching staff. We're trusting the process that we've laid down for our players. It's about one thing: creating opportunities for your football team, creating opportunities for your football team to grow. We grew in some ways, in some ways we did not. With that, we've got a week to get ready for Kansas City."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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