Aaron Rodgers eyes return only if ‘healed completely’
Green Bay — Without a sling, and with considerably less pain than he originally endured, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers addressed the media last Friday for the first time since breaking his right collarbone 19 days prior.
“It’s good to be back,” Rodgers said in the Packers' locker room. “Good week for me last week having surgery and then getting to stay out west for the initial rehab and checkup. But it’s good to be back here with the guys.”
Rodgers underwent surgery to repair an injury he said was “significantly different” and “much more intense” than the broken left collarbone he suffered in 2013, which sidelined him for seven games. This time Rodgers’ right collarbone fractured under the weight of Minnesota Vikings linebacker An
thony Barr, who hit the quarterback after a pass was released. The NFL deemed Barr’s hit to be legal; Rodgers believes a two-hand shove would have sufficed.
Nonetheless, the surgical procedure was performed in California at a location handpicked by Rodgers, though he declined to share the name. Doctors inserted a plate and an unspecified number of screws into his collarbone to stabilize the fracture, Rodgers said, and all sides were pleased with the end result.
Rodgers remained in California through the bye before returning to Green Bay, joining the rest of his teammates in their preparation for Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions.
“Well, the beauty of it was (team doctor) Pat ( McKenzie) and I have a very close relationship,” Rodgers said. “He’s done surgery on me a couple of times and he encouraged me to find a great trauma doc to do this, and I looked into a few different people. There’s some incredi- ble, talented doctors out there. Settled on some folks that made the most sense from a location standpoint for me. As far as how many different things I researched, I had three days of sitting on my butt to research stuff, so it was plenty of interesting articles and reads.”
In addition to researching doctors, Rodgers dedicated a portion of those first three days to the “grieving” attached to missing what might be the remainder of the season. He dedicated another portion of his time to researching holistic methods that are believed to accelerate healing.
Whether Rodgers can return this season is contingent upon his rate of healing, and more specifically how quickly the bone fuses around his newly installed hardware. The baseline for a potential return was established when the Packers placed Rodgers on injured reserve on Oct. 20, guaranteeing he will miss a minimum of eight weeks. He is eligible to begin practic- ing after six.
Still, Rodgers expressed a great deal of caution when discussing his immediate future during a 16-minute interview at his locker. The possibility of missing the entire season — first floated by the Packers during the very game in which Rodgers was injured — remains extremely real. Rodgers, 33, made it clear he will not push the envelope for the sake of salvaging whatever might remain of the 2017 Packers season by mid-December.
“The only reason to come back would be that I’m healed completely,” Rodgers said. “If that doesn’t happen in eight weeks, there’s not even a conversation.
“I would just temper expectations because as much as I would love to get back out there this year, if it’s not healed, then there’s no conversation. If it is healed, then there’s a conversation and we’ll go from there. But that’s kind of the outlook at this point.”
The Packers will know by mid-December if Rodgers' role is destined to change or if his season is truly done. And until then, as Brett Hundley and backup Joe Callahan sink or swim, the only thing to do is wait.
“If we’re healthy in eight weeks and it would make sense to come back,” Rodgers said, “then I’m going to come back.” McCarthy can’t confirm
team’s interest in QB: If the Green Bay Packers attempted to sign veteran quarterback Bri
an Hoyer, as was reported last week, coach Mike McCarthy says he wasn’t involved.
The Packers attempted to “steal” Hoyer after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers last week Monday, according to NFL Network. Hoyer ultimately signed a three-year deal with the New England Patriots to serve as Tom Brady’s backup, and McCarthy said he never was privy to conversations about bringing Hoyer to Green Bay.
“Well, I’ll just say this about veteran free agency,” McCarthy said. “First off, I can’t confirm (the report) because from the time Aaron (Rodgers) has been injured, I’ve never once been involved in a conversation about bringing in a veteran quarterback.
“So from my perspective, from the time of the Minnesota game, the Monday after the Minnesota game to here today, … I know you think I’m talking to you guys (in the media), but I’m really talking to our football team and our fans. The direction that we’re going with the quarterbacks is Brett Hundley and the guys that we have here.
“So that was really clearly the vision from the time we had to address it there in Minnesota.”
It means that from a coaching perspective the Packers always have planned to move forward with Hundley as their starter and Callahan as the backup. Those are the two players tasked with bridging the gap until a potential return by Rodgers, who underwent surgery to repair his broken right collarbone and was placed on injured reserve.
Things are often different from a personnel perspective, however, and it’s likely the Packers’ front office expressed interest in Hoyer without consulting anyone on the coaching staff, as is their right. General manager Ted Thompson and his scouts communicate with agents and other league personnel on a daily basis, and it is ultimately their decision about which players they believe can or cannot help the Packers win.
Hoyer was not available when Rodgers injured his collarbone Oct. 15 vs. the Vikings and only hit the market after the 49ers acquired QB Jimmy Ga
roppolo in a trade with the Patriots right before last week’s deadline.
“I’m not naive to the fact that player personnel people talk around the league,” McCarthy said. “Was there a conversation on other free agents, particular-
ly leading up to the deadline of trading? Yeah, that’s those guys doing their jobs. But as far as pursuing any player, I personally was not involved in any conversations, especially on a veteran quarterback.” New long snapper; Biegel activated: The Packers’ merrygo-round at the long snapper position continues, and the latest to be plucked for action is Derek Hart.
The Hart signing was just one of a flurry of moves the Packers made to their 53-man roster last Friday.
In addition to putting long snapper Taybor Pepper on injured reserve, they moved linebacker Vince Biegel from the physically unable to perform list to the 53-man roster and put safety Kentrell Brice on injured reserve. They also signed cornerback Donatello Brown from their practice squad.
The Brice move was the most surprising. He had been dealing with an ankle injury since early in the season and aggravated it against New Orleans. But he returned to the game and finished it out. Brice sat out both days of practice last week.
Biegel has been practicing for three weeks after missing all of training camp and the first seven games of the season because of a broken foot.
Brown had a solid training camp, but the Packers went with Lenzy Pipkins ahead of him because Pipkins could play in the slot. Both are undrafted rookies. Brown likely will contribute on special teams before he does on defense.
The Packers learned Pepper’s foot injury suffered in practice last week was serious and decided to sign Hart, who was with the team in training camp but was cut in favor of veteran Brett Goode because of some reliability issues.
Goode injured a hamstring in Week 3, and Pepper was signed to replace him.
Goode was put on injured reserve and then signed an injury settlement that allowed him to become a free agent. He has been working out and is healthy, according to his agent, Kevin
Gold, but injury settlement rules require that three weeks pass before a team can re-sign a player who has signed that agreement.
It is believed that Goode signed a four-week settlement. Thus, Goode won’t be eligible until after Week 10.
That would mean the Packers would have to get by with Hart for the Detroit and Chicago games before bringing Goode back Nov. 19 for Baltimore. Of course, it’s always possible that Hart will do well enough that the Packers don’t need to call upon Goode again.
The Packers opened up room on their 53-man roster last week by releasing defensive lineman
Ricky Jean Francois for the second time this season. Bennett’s reason for potential retirement: ‘Life’: Three days after announcing his po- tential retirement at season’s end, Packers tight end Martel
lus Bennett declined to be interviewed inside the locker room last week at Lambeau Field.
Asked if he would speak to the media at any point last week, the veteran tight end said, “Probably not.” Pressed on why he wouldn’t speak, Bennett said, “Nothing to talk about.”
Bennett’s announcement Oct. 28 on Instagram caught the Packers by surprise. McCarthy said he hadn’t consulted with his tight end beforehand. Bennett signed a three-year, $21 million contract in March, though the deal could be viewed as one year with a team option for the final two.
McCarthy declined to share his reaction to the news last week Tuesday.
“Any time comments are made,” McCarthy said, “you should probably speak to the individual. I’m not going to speak on anybody’s future plans and so forth. But there’ll be a point to sit down and talk to Marty.”
In his Instagram post, Bennett wrote: “After conversations with my family I’m pretty sure these next eight games will be the conclusion of my NFL career. To everyone who has poured themselves and time into my life and career. These next games are for you. Thank you.”
The Packers actually had nine games remaining, including Monday’s game against the Lions.
On Saturday, McCarthy mentioned Bennett was seeking medical opinions for an injured shoulder. Bennett was inactive Monday night.
“We’re waiting on some information,” McCarthy said Saturday. “He’s still taking a visit or two. Hopefully, we’ll have more information today.”
Before he left the locker room last week Tuesday, Bennett was asked what led him to his decision to potentially end his NFL career at season’s end. “Life,” was all he said.
Spriggs returns: Tackle Jason Spriggs became eligible to return to practice from injured reserve last week and the Packers wasted no time in getting him back on the field.
By doing so, the Packers automatically triggered one of the two “designated to return” options they have for players on injured reserve. Spriggs would be eligible to play against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 19. The other “designated to return” move is being saved for Rodgers.
Lions reunion: Veteran guard Don Barclay, recently released by the Packers after spending the season on injured reserve, signed last week Tuesday with the Lions. He rejoined former Packers offensive-line teammate T.J. Lang, who left Green Bay during the offseason and signed a free-agent deal with Detroit.
Barclay played in 62 regularseason games with 24 starts for the Packers after signing out of West Virginia as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL. Harlan to speak Jan. 5 at Meyer Theatre: Former Green Bay Packers president and CEO
Bob Harlan will speak at the Meyer Theatre at 7 p.m. Jan. 5.
From his early days at Marquette University to helping build the Packers into the crown jewel of the NFL, Harlan, 81, will talk about his experiences running a professional franchise in the smallest city in the NFL. WFRV-TV sports director
Burke Griffin will host the intimate evening that spans life, football and family.
Tickets for “An Evening with Bob Harlan” are $30 at ticketstaronline.com, (800) 895-0071 and the Resch Center box office.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers shakes hands with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford before the game Monday night in Green Bay.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Donatello Brown was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster last week. Brown, a rookie out of Valdosta State, will mostly contribute on special teams.