GREEN BAY – So far, so good for Aaron Rodgers and the rib injury the Packers quarterback sustained on Sunday in Philadelphia.
Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday he is feeling better, an admittedly "positive surprise" after the NFL's reigning MVP exited in the third quarter against the Eagles and did not return.
While Rodgers was held out of practice Wednesday, he tossed the ball around a little on his own and did some pool work as part of his rehab with Packers associate athletic trainer/director of rehab and return to play Nate Weir. Comfortable that he avoided a major injury, Rodgers has his sights set on starting this Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
"I'm definitely progressing and feeling better than I thought I was going to feel on Wednesday, which gives me the hope I can go out and practice (Thursday) and see how I feel," Rodgers said. "But definitely encouraged by the last couple of days."
Rodgers doesn't feel it's a necessity for him to practice in order to be ready for Sunday but believes the progress he's made this week should enable him to "get out and get a little sweat going" before the weekend trip down to Soldier Field.
He didn't dive into the extent of his rib injury other than to say it's likely he will do something to help protect his ribs on gameday. However, he doesn't expect that will come in the form of rib pads, which he hasn't donned since college.
Rodgers expects he'll have to manage some discomfort but "nothing that I can't deal with." He already has been playing with a broken thumb on his throwing hand he sustained Week 5 against the New York Giants in London. Despite Green Bay's season teetering on the brink at 4-8, Rodgers' focus remains on winning this season with this team.
"Pride, for one. Love of the game," said Rodgers when asked about what's keeping him going despite his injuries. "I love to compete, and I want to be out there with my guys."
To that end, Rodgers intends to finish out this season but said he would approach conversations about taking a step back with an "open mind" if the Packers are eliminated from postseason contention at any point.
With Rodgers in the locker room Sunday, third-year backup Jordan Love completed 6-of-9 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Eagles. It was a big step for the former first-round pick, who threw for 190 yards with a TD and interception in his first career start last year against Kansas City while Rodgers was sidelined with COVID.
Rodgers believes a performance like Sunday can be critical for a young quarterback's confidence, recalling his own breakout game against Dallas in 2007, when he completed 18-of-26 passes for 201 yards and a TD in relief of an injured Brett Favre.
"I think he's practiced a lot better on that look team and worked on throws and worked on movement throws and arm angles and different things he's going to need to rely on when he's the guy, "Rodgers said. "I enjoy working with him. I enjoy competing against him in practice. He's got a real good disposition. It was fun to watch him the other night."
Sunday's game in Chicago returns Rodgers to one of his most comfortable road venues in Soldier Field, the location he helped punch Green Bay's ticket to Super Bowl XLV and engineered a thrilling 33-28 win over the Bears to propel the Packers into the 2013 playoffs.
Rodgers has been nothing short of magnificent at Soldier Field under Head Coach Matt LaFleur, completing 54-of-77 passes for 638 yards with seven TDs and zero interceptions (125.4 passer rating). LaFleur still has yet to lose to the Bears (7-0) in his three-plus seasons as Green Bay's head coach.
This week, all of Rodgers' energy is driven towards recuperation and earning another mark in the win column, which coincidentally would pull the Packers one win ahead of the Bears for most victories in NFL history (787).
"It's always the goal to play, that never changes," Rodgers said. "With the rehab I've been doing, it's kind of non-stop. I'm stretching, I'm doing different modalities at home and making sure that when I'm in here – I was in here early this morning doing rehab, I was in rehab before practice, so I want to be out there."