GREEN BAY – Whether or not Aaron Rodgers plays against the Raiders on Thursday night, he’s been having a blast this week.
Running the scout team offense against the Packers’ No. 1 defense in practice the past two days, Rodgers has been awfully impressive. He has thrown TD passes to everyone from veteran tight end Jared Cook to undrafted rookie running back Brandon Burks, and in all sorts of forms and fashions.
“You might occasionally throw some no-look passes out there,” Rodgers said, smiling but emphasizing he’s not totally goofing off in doing so.
“It’s a time you can practice a few things you want to try, but you’re trying to be really efficient as well. When you can add those things to your game and still be effective, it’s really fun.”
As a scout-team quarterback, Rodgers is helping the Packers’ defense as well. All-everything defensive back Micah Hyde said his unit is forced to disguise its schemes that much more going against Rodgers, because he knows the defense’s playbook so well.
“Sometimes, he doesn’t know what we’re in. That’s a compliment to us,” Hyde said. “Having the best quarterback in the league not knowing what we’re in at times, that’s pretty good.”
Rodgers still doesn’t know if he’s in Thursday’s game. He hasn’t heard either way from Mike McCarthy, suggesting the head coach was focused on getting No. 2 QB Brett Hundley more reps this week coming back from his ankle injury.
“If I play, it won’t be a whole lot,” Rodgers said. “Then I would expect extended time in the third game.”
As for the No. 1 offense in general, Rodgers said it’s still a work in progress, mainly because of the number of pass-catchers who have been in and out of practice due to injuries.
Cook missed two weeks of camp, Ty Montgomery also recently returned, Jordy Nelson has yet to practice and even Randall Cobb needed a brief respite last week. All of that has allowed Jared Abbrederis and Davante Adams, among others, to have their moments in camp.
“We’re going to put it together, slowly, but we haven’t had everybody together yet,” Rodgers said. “When we do, I think it could be special.”
There already appears to be some special chemistry brewing between Rodgers and Cook in just one week together since the spring, and Rodgers likes where that’s headed.
He also complimented Cook on his smarts and his presence in the locker room.
“It’s not an overnight thing, but every time we complete a pass in practice, we’re making a step in the right direction,” Rodgers said.
“You tell him something once, and he gets it. That’s a great trait to have. You don’t see repeat mistakes from him. You see him processing things at a high rate of speed on the field.”
Cobb is another veteran Rodgers pointed to as having a standout camp, calling his play thus far “phenomenal” and “fantastic.”
As critical as Cobb was of himself in the offseason, looking back at 2015, his own words now say a lot about his outlook on the new season.
“I’m very confident,” Cobb said. “I’m excited about this year. Really looking forward to it.”
The only bad news in the receiving corps, other than Nelson still being sidelined, is the fractured hand of Jeff Janis. The injury occurred in practice last week and required surgery, which Janis said leaves him with a four-to-six week recovery.
How that will impact the final roster decisions at the end of camp remains to be seen, but Janis is simply hoping he’s on the shorter end of that recovery timetable.
“I always look forward to playing in the preseason and showing you belong here,” Janis said. “But that’s one of the things you can’t control and you just have to take it and try to heal up, stay mentally in the game, keep going to meetings, keep listening and be ready when you come back.”
Players in the past with hand or finger fractures have wrapped the injury in a club before it’s fully healed and still taken the field. Janis obviously wouldn’t be able to catch passes with a clubbed-up hand, but he has lobbied to continue playing on special teams at some point.
“I don’t know if they’re going to let me or not,” he said. “It all depends on how the bones heal and how everything looks on the x-ray.”
Spofford: Playing time for Thursday not decided yet
Hodkiewicz: Hyde embraces utility role in Packers' secondary