GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are still saving a spot for quarterback Aaron Rodgers if he can come off injured reserve late in the season following collarbone surgery, but he’ll have a bigger presence -- and potentially an impact -- this week now that he’s back in town following surgery.
Although Rodgers was not seen in the Don Hutson Center where the Packers practiced on Thursday or in the locker room afterward, several players said the quarterback’s return to team headquarters this week has been a boost for morale and, perhaps more importantly, as an advisor to new starter Brett Hundley.
“It’s going to be huge for Brett, especially having him there right in his ear every day,” Packers receiver Davante Adams said. “It’s one thing hearing it from him when 12 is in there, but when it’s time for Brett to go, obviously he hasn’t had many meetings with 12 in there when [Hundley] was the guy, other than preseason. So it’s going to be a little different feel for him, but I know it will make him a little more comfortable.”
It’s something Hundley didn’t have in advance of his first start in Week 7 against the Saints, a 26-17 loss, because Rodgers was in California, where he underwent surgery to repair his broken right clavicle.
Hundley was ineffective in the deep passing game, completing 12 of 25 passes for just 87 yards. With the bye week to study the film and with Rodgers at his side, Hundley expects to be more productive in his second start, on Monday night against the Lions, and thinks Rodgers will play a part in that.
“Me and Aaron talk a lot,” Hundley said Thursday. “Even when he was playing, we still talked a lot. It’s the same -- now it’s a different type of talk. He’s telling me stuff, and it’s good for me. Aaron’s always been a brother to me. Whenever you have people like that around, you always feel better.”
The Packers used one of their two injured reserve/designated to return spots Thursday on backup tackle Jason Spriggs, who suffered a hamstring injury in Week 1. Teams can bring back two players off IR during the season, but they can’t play until eight weeks after they were placed on IR (but they can begin practicing in six weeks). Rodgers could begin practicing on Dec. 1 and could play on Dec. 17 against the Carolina Panthers, the third-to-last game of the season. The Packers would have to be in contention for a playoff spot for them to even consider bringing Rodgers back.
According to Clay Matthews, Rodgers looks like he could play right now.
“It's nice to see him back in the building, kind of out of his sling,” Matthews said. “I don't think anyone would guess that he's had surgery if you just saw him walking around, so hopefully that puts him on pace to whenever it is that we'll get him back.
“But ultimately I'm sure it benefits Brett, Joe [Callahan] and some of these quarterbacks who have a veteran quarterback teaching them what to do. Obviously to see him in here, see him in good spirits really helps us out. Guys in this locker room are the ones who have to go out there on game day, and unfortunately he won't be there for us. So it just requires everyone else to kind of pick their game up even more so and, like I said, hopefully come away with a victory.”