GREEN BAY, Wis. -- By Aaron Rodgers' own admission, the calf injury the Green Bay Packers quarterback suffered late last season reduced him to an immobile pocket quarterback during the playoffs.
He remained effective, but it wasn't how he prefers to play.
One look at Rodgers this preseason, and it's easy to see the difference.
"I'm back to playing the way I like to play, which is to extend plays when I can and get rid of it when I need to," Rodgers said Thursday. "[If] I have an opportunity to escape the pocket and create a different angle, then I'm going to. It's nice to be back. I trained hard this offseason to keep the speed and keep my body in shape where I can have the endurance to have multiple plays like that in a game. And it definitely adds a different element to our offense."
That was evident in the Aug. 13 preseason opener at New England, when Rodgers rolled to his left on a goal-line play and threw on the run.
But he didn't need that to know his left calf would hold up.
"I had zero doubt going into the game," Rodgers said. "I spent the entire offseason training really hard and went through the OTA practices and the [individual workouts] and had no issues. This was a significant calf injury, but we're talking about eight months later. I have zero inhibitions out there, and I'm playing the way I want to play."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy apparently has no concerns about Rodgers' injury, either. He gave Rodgers and the starting offense 33 plays against the Patriots. That's 33 more than Rodgers played in the preseason opener last year.
"I would think he's back," McCarthy said. "He's in excellent shape; he's moved very well, going through the quarterback school drills; he looks very smooth, so that's the way you want to play. I mean, it's obvious. There's two ways to throw the football. You either drop back and throw it or you have some type of action passing game. The ability to move the quarterback is something that definitely stresses the defense, and his ability to play on the move from not only in the drop-back phase but also in the quarterback movement phase -- and the keeps and the naked [bootlegs] and things like that -- is obviously a big part of how we would like to play."