Better days ahead for QB

Circumstances hinder evaluation of Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers' line from Thursday's exhibition opener against the San Diego Chargers wasn't pretty. But neither were some of the circumstances under which he played at Lambeau Field.

Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy for the Packers' first-round draft pick. Throughout training camp he has very patiently dealt with the media on being Brett Favre's heir apparent, a huge act to follow some day. Rodgers got an immediate taste of following Favre midway through the second quarter. The future Hall of Fame quarterback directed the Packers on an 80-yard scoring drive, completing 7 of 8 passes, including a 23-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Donald Driver.

That drive was enough for coach Mike Sherman to take Favre out and give Rodgers his first live action with the Packers.

Rodgers entered the game under less than ideal conditions. A steady rain kept the ball and field fairly slick, and it wasn't long before the earpiece in his helmet malfunctioned. That made it impossible to hear the plays that were being called by Packers coaches. His first drive as a Packer: a three and out.

"My helmet conked out twice, couldn't hear anything twice, got stepped on - that was embarrassing - but other than that," Rodgers said with a smile afterward. "We tried to do some things and get some penalties, try to draw them offsides, and I made some good decisions. I don't want to make any excuses about the wet ball or wet conditions, but I was a little bit off with the throws. It was a good learning experience, though."

Rodgers was replaced by Craig Nall after his first series late in the second quarter while his helmet was getting repaired. He re-entered the game in the third quarter and wound up wearing Nall and Favre's helmets at different times in order to hear the plays. Rodgers finished the game by completing 2 of 6 passes for 7 yards and a 42.4 passer rating.

"I looked over at the sidelines and (Quarterbacks coach Darrell) Bevell was talking, I just couldn't hear anything," Rodgers said. "So a couple times, I called my own play, which is kind of fun for the first time. I'm so used to being told what to call. I had to put on Brett's helmet for a while and then I finished the game with Craig Nall's helmet."

Give the rookie an incomplete on this one. Despite the fact that he has looked pretty sharp passing the ball in training camp, more than 62,000 Packers fans at the game and millions more watching on the national cable TV broadcast couldn't tell. Rodgers did on a few occasions show his ability to scramble and run. His quickness is a refreshing site.

"With a young group of linemen out there and, at different times, a young group of receivers, it's a difficult evaluation," Sherman said. "As good as Brett (Favre) is, it would be tough sometimes for him to be in similar situations. So it was a tough analysis. He knew what we were doing, but he kind of had a tough time because his helmet went haywire on him. ... He never really got a flow going, but he didn't do anything to disappoint me at all. It's tough being the backup quarterback in preseason."

Rodgers will get more chances, beginning this Saturday in Buffalo. Hopefully under drier conditions and with a helmet that works.

Thus far, Rodgers clearly has showed in practices that he has a good command of the offense and is worthy of being Favre's backup this season ahead of Nall and J.T. O'Sullivan. Now he has to prove it in preseason games.

As for Thursday's outing, Rodgers will have plenty to laugh about some day when looking back on his debut.

Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of Packer Report and E-mail him with your comments at

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