After Friday’s preseason game in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers watched from the sideline, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy hinted that Rodgers would make his preseason debut on Thursday vs. Oakland.
“I think history will tell you he'll play next week,” McCarthy said after the Cleveland game.
On Sunday, however, the only snaps Rodgers took with the No. 1 offense came on a two-minute drill to start practice. When the offense faced the scout-team defense, it was Brett Hundley and undrafted rookies Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams who ran the show. The rest of Rodgers’ reps came directing the scout-team offense.
So, will Rodgers play vs. the Raiders? Or will his preseason debut have to wait until the third preseason game, at San Francisco on Aug. 26?
Speaking before Monday’s midday practice, McCarthy said playing time had yet to be determined.
“Play time, the medical report affects it more than anything,” McCarthy said. “So a couple guys can affect how we play the quarterbacks or how we play a number of positions.”
The starting offense is mostly intact. The only missing link on the offensive line is center Corey Linsley, who remains on the physically unable to perform list. However, J.C. Tretter is viewed as a starting-caliber player and has been with the No. 1 offense since the start of the offseason. The right side of the offensive line, guard T.J. Lang and tackle Bryan Bulaga, are back, as well, with Lang missing the start of camp due to offseason shoulder surgery and Bulaga getting an occasional day off to rest his knees. Both players started vs. Cleveland.
With tight end Jared Cook back after missing the start of camp following offseason foot surgery and with running back Eddie Lacy back after missing time with an injured ankle, those position groups are at full strength.
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The one group that’s not intact is wide receiver. Jordy Nelson remains out – he walked through the locker room with a slight limp on Sunday – and Ty Montgomery is being brought along slowly after missing the final two-thirds of last season with an injured ankle that required surgery.
With McCarthy’s focus on Hundley and the rookies, it’s possible he’s waiting for his offense to get to full strength before putting Rodgers into a preseason game. Rodgers has been sharp throughout camp and said last week that he believes he’s ready for the regular season.
There’s more to it than that, though, McCarthy said on Monday.
“This is not an individual game. This is a team game,” he said. “I think there are individuals on our football team due to their experience (and) the amount of work they’ve been able to get so far in practice that are potentially probably ready to play. But play time in the preseason is more about playing guys like Aaron, Clay Matthews, how they’re rolled into the game with the combinations of who they’re playing with. That’s why you kind of wait to get through this practice today, get the medical report and we’ll see how we can rep it out.”
If Rodgers plays, it probably won’t be for too long. McCarthy would like to get Hundley up to speed. The promising second-year prospect returned to practice on Sunday after missing almost two weeks with an injured ankle. This should have been Hundley’s third preseason game. Instead, the hope is he can make his debut on Thursday.
“I planned on Brett playing a lot in the first game in Canton. Planned on him playing in Cleveland. So those are missed opportunities,” McCarthy said. “But what are you going to do about it? So we’ll see how this week works out and hopefully we can give him a bunch of time Thursday night against Oakland. That’s what I’m hopeful.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.