Excuse Aaron Rodgers for being greedy.
The red-hot quarterback expects and wants to be on the field for what should be the most extended playing time of the preseason when the Packers play their third of four games Friday night at the Arizona Cardinals.
"The third game is really one you want to get your conditioning down. I'd love to play into the third quarter," said Rodgers, who was asked after the Packers' 31-21 win over the visiting Buffalo Bills on Saturday whether he needed a lot of work in the upcoming game.
Rodgers is coming off a dazzling 8-for-9, 98-yard, two-touchdown passing performance in a little more than a quarter of action against the Bills.
The second-year starter was nearly perfect in leading the Packers on three scoring drives (all touchdowns) in four possessions. Rodgers had a 151.6 passer rating, and his only incompletion came on a well-played breakup by cornerback Reggie Corner on a goal-line slant to receiver Donald Driver.
Rodgers went right back to Driver on the next play, throwing a dart on the run that Driver expertly snared at the pylon for a 5-yard touchdown. That put the Packers ahead 21-0, and Rodgers had a well-deserved rest of the night off.
"When (Rodgers) jumps out of the pocket and makes that play, that tells you something about his individual playmaking ability," McCarthy said. "For him to put that ball where he put it and for Donald to keep his feet inbounds, that's exciting. Those are the types of plays that win football games."
Fast starts by the Rodgers-led No. 1 offense have helped propel the Packers to a 2-0 start in the preseason and a big shot in the arm for the season ahead after last year's edition soured with a 6-10 record.
Rodgers has directed five touchdown drives in six series.
"We're doing some really good things," he said. "The key is it starts up front. In two games, I haven't been sacked, really haven't been touched. It gives you a lot of confidence as a passer."
Rodgers has completed 13-of-19 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.
He enters the penultimate week of preseason games third in the league with an efficiency rating of 142.5 — trailing only the San Francisco 49ers' Damon Huard (149.1) and the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning (144.0).
At the midway point of the exhibition schedule, the Packers are no better off at the crucial position than when they started training camp on Aug. 1. Both young candidates have had their share of good and bad moments in practice, and the trend has carried over to game day. A week after Brooks took the team's only punt (a solid placement kick of 39 yards) in the preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns, the second-year player was sidelined for the Aug. 22 game against the Buffalo Bills with a recurring hip flexor. That gave plenty of exposure to Kapinos, who had five punts. He was placed mostly in placement situations and put two inside the 20, while averaging a solid 43.2 net yards. However, Kapinos' hang times were erratic, from as high as 5 seconds to as low as less than 3.5 seconds. Given Brooks' lingering injury, which contributed to his early release from the Washington Redskins as a sixth-round draft pick during the season last year and Kapinos' inconsistency, the Packers' opening-day punter very well could be on another team's roster.
Other battle fronts
Scott Wells vs. Jason Spitz for starting C — Both veteran players had equal opportunity to work as the No. 1 center in the first two preseason games — Wells was the starter in the first contest, and Spitz had the honors on Saturday against Buffalo. Wells, who has held the job since 2006, remains listed first on the depth chart and hasn't appeared to be hindered from missing the entire offseason after undergoing shoulder surgery. Spitz is the incumbent starter at right guard, where he has been getting practice and game reps throughout the preseason, and seems ticketed to go back there, though that would come at the expense of talented young player Josh Sitton. ... Allen Barbre vs. Breno Giacomini for starting RT — Barbre and Giacomini split the first-team reps in the last game, as the coaches tried to ratchet up the competition after Barbre held the upper hand in a mostly uncontested race since the offseason. Giacomini is fully recovered from ankle surgery and has tremendous upside as a 6-foot-7 pass blocker. However, he may have taken himself out of the running with a bad whiff against Bills defensive end Copeland Bryan, who drilled backup quarterback Matt Flynn for a fourth-quarter sack that left Flynn with a game-ending sprained right (throwing) shoulder.
DL B.J. Raji (first round) made his preseason debut in the Packers' 31-21 win over the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 22. Raji, who was a contract holdout as a first-round draft pick the first two weeks of training camp, was on the field for 12 plays in the first half. He lined up as the No. 2 left end in the base defense and worked alongside Cullen Jenkins as the down linemen in nickel. ... LB Clay Matthews (first) hasn't played in the first two preseason games because of a nagging hamstring injury. Matthews, who opened camp in contention for the starting job at right outside 'backer, has been sidelined since aggravating the injury in practice Aug. 6. ... OL T.J. Lang (fourth) worked as the second-string left guard for the second straight game. ... FB Quinn Johnson (fifth) remained third in the playing rotation at the competitive position. He is trying to unseat one of two incumbents from last season, Korey Hall or John Kuhn. ... OT Jamon Meredith (fifth) is in a fight for a roster spot. He has been working since the start of camp as the third-string left tackle behind Chad Clifton and Tony Moll. ... DE Jarius Wynn (sixth), who has been spelling starter Cullen Jenkins at right end, had a third-quarter sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the last game. ... CB Brandon Underwood (sixth) had reserve work on both the left and right sides against the Bills before he was poked in the eye in the third quarter. The injury isn't considered serious. ... LB Brad Jones (seventh) came off the non-reserve PUP list Aug. 17 and made an impact in his first preseason game. Working as the No. 2 left outside 'backer, Jones sacked and caused a fumble by Fitzpatrick late in the first half that was recovered by the Packers. Jones, however, was beat in coverage on a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jonathan Stupar in the third quarter. ... RB Tyrell Sutton (undrafted) led all rushers for the second straight game with 49 yards in 11 carries and capped Green Bay's scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run late in the contest. He has run the ball 27 times for 140 yards in the two games. Sutton also is getting a look as the No. 2 kickoff returner. He averaged 21.5 yards in two runbacks against the Bills. ... TE Devin Frischknecht (undrafted) was carted off the field in the third quarter of the last game and taken to a Green Bay hospital with what appeared to be a broken right shin.
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