GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers isn’t going to practice until Saturday, with the idea that more limitations during the week hopefully produce fewer limitations come Sunday at Soldier Field.
“I’m definitely doing everything I can to be as close to full speed as possible,” Rodgers said.
Dealing with hamstring and calf injuries, Rodgers focused on rehab and film work on Wednesday while attending meetings as usual.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers told him not to hold anything back from the game plan for the Bears due to his health, but some decisions as to what’s on the call sheet won’t really be made until closer to kickoff.
“I’m very optimistic by nature,” Rodgers said. “We can always take things out. It’s harder to add things back in. Get everything in, and if there’s anything we have to take out on Sunday, we’ll do that.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries over the years, and you just learn about pain management and how to get yourself in the best shape to play on Sunday, and then playing with pain.”
The pain came early last week for Rodgers, as he injured his calf on the third play of the Seattle game.
It goes without saying the respect he’s earned from his teammates and coaches for what he’s able to fight through. McCarthy told the story on Wednesday of Rodgers’ first season as a starter, in 2008, when he separated his shoulder at Tampa Bay and could barely throw a ball the following week.
The morning before the ensuing game, at home vs. Atlanta, Rodgers managed to throw roughly 20-yard passes in the Don Hutson Center and got clearance to play.
Then, on a third-and-1 in the second quarter, McCarthy mistakenly called a deep shot that Rodgers thought had been tossed from the game plan. After a confused glance at his head coach, Rodgers proceeded to run the play, completing a 44-yard TD pass to Donald Driver.
“Aaron’s as tough as anybody I’ve ever been around,” McCarthy said.
“That was a big moment for him. He’s done it so many times now, with things that may not seem as big. The intensity of his focus, it’s extraordinary.”
Rodgers will need that razor-sharp focus on Sunday to manage his injuries as well as the bitter cold in the Chicago forecast. Temperatures are expected to be in the low single digits, and perhaps below zero, with the wind chills even colder.
Players around the locker room talk about dealing with the cold as more of a mental challenge than a physical one. Once the game starts and players are running around, they feel they can stay warm and then stay near the sideline heaters between series.
Still, it’s not exactly fun, especially at Soldier Field where the wind can really whip in off of Lake Michigan.
“You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Rodgers said.
“It’s about being efficient in these type of temperatures. You deal with the wind as it comes and you make the proper adjustments.”
That’s what the past couple of weeks have been like on a daily basis for a banged-up Rodgers.
This week, there’s just more to deal with, but to Rodgers, more doesn’t mean too much.
“I’ll be out there ready to go,” he said.