GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers wants the Packers offense to pick up the pace.
“I think we need to play a little faster this week,” Rodgers said on Wednesday. “Get the ball back to the line of scrimmage, get set a little quicker and pick up the tempo a little bit more. We’ve been kind of crawling a little bit. We need to get our plays up to 65, 70 again.”
The Packers ran fewer than 60 plays last week against St. Louis for the first time since Week 1. The total snap count is not a tell-all stat, but it did indicate the struggle to sustain drives against a solid Rams defense. An uncharacteristic three turnovers also hurt the cause.
While Rodgers did hit two big plays for TDs, the running game never got going and fell from its lofty No. 3 ranking to No. 8 in the league. Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for just 44 yards on 18 carries (2.4 avg.).
Rodgers said he saw the Rams respecting the run with an extra defender in the box, and they covered well one-on-one on the outside. Winning those matchups on the perimeter is Rodgers’ solution to getting the ground game back on track.
“I think it’s going to take being more efficient in the passing game, and challenging some people down the field a little bit more,” he said. “It’s going to take us making some plays outside the numbers to kind of soften things up a little bit for us.”
It would help to get receiver Davante Adams back from his ankle injury, but there’s no guarantee of that this week. Adams, who has missed all but the opening series against Kansas City in the last three games, returned to practice on Wednesday on a limited basis.
After Sunday’s game, Rodgers called Adams a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver the offenses misses. The second-year pro said he feels better and is “getting there,” but he didn’t proclaim himself ready. No matter the current state of the offense, he’s eager to play.
“I want to get out there regardless, if we’re scoring 100 points a game or if we’re only putting up 20 or whatever it is,” he said. “I’m just hungry to get out there to play again. It hasn’t been that long, but it feels like a lifetime when you’re standing on the sideline watching your team go at it.”
The status of right guard T.J. Lang appears more certain. Lang left Sunday’s game with a knee injury but was back on the practice field already Wednesday. He’s wearing a brace on his knee for the first time since college, and he’s confident he will play on Sunday.
Lang has played hurt before, with a bum ankle the second half of last season and a damaged elbow back in 2012, and he suggested his knee isn’t the issue those were. He said it felt better at practice than he thought it would.
“It felt like it’s something I can play through,” Lang said. “I’ve played through worse injuries. As long as I don’t have any setbacks going through this week, I’m going to feel good about Sunday.”
Getting back to the running game, Lang added “it was everybody kind of taking their turn” with assignment errors against the Rams, but he and his fellow linemen aren’t letting one tough day get to them.
Josh Sitton reminded reporters that two weeks ago in San Francisco Lacy averaged five yards per rush. He believes the biggest challenge with the run game is being productive without necessarily getting in a groove.
“We have to find a way as an offensive line to make the runs that we get called count. We don’t get as many as some teams. We know that,” Sitton said. “We know this offense is based on Aaron Rodgers. We’re going to get 15 to 20 reps running the ball, and we have to make it count.”
Rodgers wants to make them all count, run or pass, but he’s also not trying to reinvent the wheel after two straight 17-point outings.
“There’s going to be games like that every year, hopefully not that many,” he said. “You just keep on trying to do the same stuff and not get too high or low every week. Realize your preparation has gotten you to this point, the routine has worked obviously for years. Stick to it.
“That’s the toughest part. It’s a week between games, so you just can’t wait to get back out there.”
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