GREEN BAY—Aaron Rodgers held his customary Wednesday pow-wow with reporters at his locker for the first time since he broke his left collarbone, but there’s nothing to read into it.
“I just missed you guys a lot,” Rodgers joked with the media.
Rodgers reiterated various things he has said on his weekly radio show, including that he hasn’t had the bone x-rayed again since the initial scan, and that he’ll need to be on the practice field two days before a game for him to possibly play.
“So that’s Friday of this week or Tuesday of next week,” he said, making no promises for either. “It’s a waiting game. We’ll see what happens.
“This is a tough injury to deal with, because it’s not like you can tough through this or gut it out, which I’ve done with various other injuries throughout my career. It is difficult, but you just have to trust the process and hope it heals quicker than people think.”
As has been the case all along, no one is predicting how long that will take.
“We’re talking about the healing of a bone,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “Until Dr. McKenzie and Aaron feel we’re at a spot to talk about playing, we’ll talk about it, but that did not happen today.”
Rodgers lamented multiple times how much he misses playing and being on the field “with the guys.” He does believe the Packers can stay in the playoff race until he returns, pausing briefly before giving a direct “yes” to that very question.
He’s basing that confidence on his faith in the rest of the roster and on the steady improvement he’s seen from backup QB Scott Tolzien the past two weeks.
“I’m proud of Scott, the way he’s stepped in,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, he’d like to have a couple throws back from that (Giants) game, but that’s typical.
“We’re always striving to be perfect. He’s learning on the fly. It’s quick experience for him, being thrown out there. His preparation has been very good, his approach, and I think he’s primed to have a good week.”
Tolzien was praised by McCarthy for his completion percentage against the Giants (71 percent) and for his accuracy, particularly on downfield throws. His “issue” was the three interceptions, and the five total he has thrown in two games.
Tolzien is trying to find that balance between protecting the football and “letting it rip,” as McCarthy referenced previously. It’s a tough line to walk, especially for a quarterback with all of 7½ quarters of action under his belt.
But, again, just as he did last week, Tolzien pointed to his extensive studying as the element to carry him through in his second start, Sunday at Lambeau Field against Minnesota.
He’s leaning on his prep work both in terms of making better decisions and handling the pressure that comes with ending the team’s current three-game losing streak, which would help keep the Packers afloat until Rodgers returns.
“It’s something that’s in the back of your mind,” Tolzien said of the interceptions, “but you still have to play ball. It’s still a reactionary sport.
“No question, there’s a sense of urgency, but you still try to stay within yourself and let the game come to you. I think you want to press in your preparation, but you don’t want to press on the field.”
McCarthy stressed that the playoff picture is not part of the team’s discussions at this point, but the players have a solid grasp of the situation regardless.
The Packers haven’t been at .500 this late in a season since 2008, the last time they missed the postseason. They’re in somewhat strange territory, yet, fully in tune with reality.
“You can say that you don’t think about the playoffs … but you do,” guard Josh Sitton said. “When you’re 5-5, if you give one more away, especially in the NFC, you might not be in.”
Receiver Jordy Nelson wouldn’t go so far as to call Sunday a must-win, but “it’s probably about as close as you can get to one.”
“Everybody understands where we’re at,” guard T.J. Lang said. “Our backs aren’t against the wall, but we’re pretty damn close.” Additional coverage - Nov. 20