GREEN BAY – The players-only meeting that was mentioned in the Thanksgiving night broadcast on NBC never occurred, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers clarified on Sunday.
NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth reported that the Packers had conducted a players-only meeting prior to their trip to Minnesota, and that one issue discussed was too much video-game playing in prior weeks.
Before Sunday’s practice, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he wasn’t aware of any players-only meeting, and Rodgers later explained that something discussed in a production meeting with NBC was misconstrued.
“That’s false. It didn’t happen in the way he explained it,” Rodgers said after Sunday’s practice, the first on-field workout prior to Thursday’s game in Detroit.
“There wasn’t any players-only meeting. There’s meetings with the offense all the time. We break up offense and defense, we break up into position groups, but there wasn’t anything resembling what he talked about, from what I heard. I didn’t see the broadcast.”
That said, Rodgers believes players do need to ask themselves whether they’re doing everything they can and should to prepare for games. He said after the Thanksgiving loss to the Bears he would be ramping up his own preparation, though he declined to go into details.
For this late in the season, Rodgers has seen way too many mental errors from the offense. The level of execution in practice is not carrying over to the games. On top of that, he doesn’t see the team responding to rough patches in games very well, either.
“It goes back to what you’re doing in your spare time and what you’re doing in your time in the facility,” Rodgers said. “Being a pro is all about making sure you’re as ready as possible for the time the game hits.
“We have to buckle down our preparation and make sure we’re ready to play.”
One player the Packers need to get going on offense is receiver Davante Adams, and despite all the struggles to connect with him regularly, Rodgers said he has not lost any confidence in the second-year receiver.
Adams said he was “(ticked) off” about the Chicago loss and the way he played, and that it’s difficult to let it go. Given ample opportunity in the home defeats to the Lions and Bears, Adams turned 32 targeted passes in those games into just 12 receptions for 93 yards, and he’s trying “to move past it.”
“I want to play right now,” he said. “I’m ready to get out there and have a better game than I did last time.”
Fellow receiver Jared Abbrederis, out since the first Detroit game with an injury to his ribs, returned to practice on Sunday. So did center Corey Linsley (ankle), though Monday’s more extensive workout will be a better indication of each player’s comeback trail.
Monday’s practice will provide the bulk of the on-field work for Thursday’s game, but given how players and coaches have repeated for several weeks how well practices have gone, the translation to game day still needs to occur.
The Packers (7-4) have lost four of five games since a 6-0 start and, just one week after beating Minnesota for their only win in November, they once again find themselves one game behind the Vikings (8-3) for first place in the NFC North. Minnesota won at Atlanta on Sunday.
What will make the difference down the stretch is clear to Rodgers, who suggested his leadership will only go so far.
“I’m going to beat this horse here: It’s preparation,” he said. “Are you doing everything you need to, to get ready to play? Each of us. And how are you dealing with adversity when it hits on the field? We need to do a better job of that.
“I think you can inspire people, but motivation comes from within. You have to be self-motivated in this league. You can try to say the right things and try and get guys on the same page, but it comes down to motivation. Are you willing to put in the extra time? Are you willing to make sure you’re as prepared as possible when Thursday hits to make sure you’re having your best performance? Coaches coach, players play, and we have to play better as players.”
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