Last summer, Aaron Rodgers had what was his lightest preseason workload: Two games, 24 pass attempts.
On Friday night at San Francisco, Rodgers made his first — and perhaps last — appearance of the preseason. Rodgers played 21 snaps and completed 6-of-9 passes for 60 yards and one touchdown in the Packers’ 21-10 victory.
“I feel good about the work we put in tonight,” Rodgers said after the game. “We had two good drives. We had kind of a phantom pass interference call on the first drive that would have put us in their territory and came back the second drive and put some stuff together.”
The Packers conclude the preseason on Thursday night at Kansas City. During his weekly media session at his locker earlier this week, Rodgers said he wouldn’t play in that game and instead would man the scout team for practices on Monday and Tuesday. Though, it is worth noting that Rodgers figured he’d play in the second preseason game vs. Oakland but didn’t.
During the game broadcast, announcers Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon said Rodgers would have played more than two series had fullback Aaron Ripkowski (knee) been available. So, it’s possible Rodgers could play a bit vs. the Chiefs — and perhaps even more possible if Jordy Nelson were deemed ready for game action.
“We’ll see,” is all coach Mike McCarthy would say after the game.
The first drive was ugly — or “disjointed,” to use McCarthy’s verbiage. After a pair of runs by Eddie Lacy to start the game, Rodgers hit tight end Jared Cook for a gain of 19 to convert a third-and-3. On the next play, Cook was flagged for holding. Then, with Rodgers under pressure, he threw behind Cook. Rodgers faced pressure off of both edges on the next snap but the Packers were granted a first down when the 49ers were penalized for illegal use of hands. After a run by Lacy, Rodgers fired a quick pass to Davante Adams, who turned it into a gain of 48. However, Randall Cobb was called for offensive pass interference — much to the dismay of McCarthy, Rodgers and Cobb. Finally, on third-and-14, it appeared Rodgers tried to catch the Niners with 12 men on the field. Instead, the Packers were called for an illegal shift as Rodgers threw incomplete to rookie Trevor Davis.
The second drive was much more effective. Lacy got it rolling with a gain of 20. On third-and-7, Rodgers caught the Niners with 12 on the field — and the officials agreed. Lacy converted the resulting third-and-2. One play later, Rodgers booted to his left and hit Cobb for a gain of 10. On third-and-2, Rodgers threw a strike to Cobb for 18. On third-and-11, Rodgers connected with Davis for 9, with James Starks converting the fourth-and-2. On first-and-goal from the 6, Rodgers fired a quick pass to Cobb, who made a defender miss and plowed through two defenders near the goal line for the touchdown.
Rodgers celebrated the touchdown, then headed to the bench. His next game action could be Sept. 11 at Jacksonville, where he’ll face a defense that has a chance to be quite formidable.
“It’s just conditioning, I think, at this point,” Rodgers said. “We ran a bunch of plays in those two drives, and it was up-tempo, and that’s important. We’re going to try to do that during the regular season as much as we can and also be able to transition to a huddle offense. But we wanted to push the tempo and run as many plays as possible in those two or three series and we got two sustained drives and it was good.”
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.