Aaron Rodgers might be back but Packers coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t want the team heading to Carolina filled with false confidence.
Rodgers began making preparations on Wednesday for the Sunday afternoon game against the Carolina Panthers. The quarterback has missed nearly two months of field time due to a broken collarbone and, although ready to get back in the game, even he knows that his presence on the field alone won’t land the Packers in the playoffs.
“Hopefully it gives a lift to some of the guys, but I’m not coming back to save this team,” Rodgers said. “I’m coming back to play quarterback the way I know how to play it. Hopefully, we all raise the level of our play collectively and find a way to win these three games.”
Currently, at 7-6, the Packers are going to be forced to put in work if they plan to make it into the postseason. With Brett Hundley in place of Rodgers, the Packers went 3-4. Hundley landed back-to-back overtime wins in an effort to make Rodgers’ return to the team profitable.
“I think our football has done an excellent job of finding different ways to win,” McCarthy said. “We’re not going to go to Carolina with a bunch of false confidence. We understand the impact that Aaron Rodgers makes for our football team and, hell, the impact that he’d make for anybody’s football team. He’s a great player; he’s an impact player. We’re in a position that we’re in. We’re 7-6. We clearly understand what’s on the line here.”
Before the near-season-ending injury, Rodgers managed to land 13 touchdown passes within five weeks and even pulled out some comeback wins when it came down to the wire. Rodgers, his team, and fans are all hoping the player can return to making magic happen on the field.
“I feel confident I will be able to go out there and play the way I’ve always played, but I’ve been off for seven games and been out for a while,” Rodgers said. “So, it’s going to take getting out there, getting that first pass, getting that first hit, and I’ll probably settle in.”
Rodgers can’t be placed back on the roster until Friday which will end his eight-week mark, but he’s already started back on reps.
“I wouldn’t be standing here ready to play if I wasn’t confident I could go out there and play the way that I’ve always played,” Rodgers said. “There’s just no point in doing that. It’s a risky game; it’s a dangerous game. There’s risks every time you step on the field.”
This isn’t the first collarbone problem for Rodgers. In 2013, he missed seven games after he broke his left clavicle. The player never received surgery for the injury and, upon returning to play, he was forced to avoid being hit.
“With the concussions that have happened in this game, that, to me, is something to be more worried about than altering your play to take a shot and landing on your shoulder again. That’s something that we deal with and that’s why we love this game. I think [Pittsburgh Steelers safety] Mike Mitchell had a lot of good points when he was talking about the nature of this game. It’s a physical game, and you have to go out and play as much as you can without fear. That’s why I’m here, that’s why we’re cleared and that’s why I’m playing.”