Notebook: Rodgers Rehabbing, Intends To Play

A scan has revealed there’s no major structural damage to Aaron Rodgers’ right shoulder, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy said his quarterback has every intention of playing this week against Atlanta. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 29


QB Aaron Rodgers talks with team physician Dr. Patrick McKenzie on the sidelines during Sunday's game in Tampa.

A scan has revealed there's no major structural damage to Aaron Rodgers' right shoulder, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy said his quarterback has every intention of playing this week against Atlanta.

Rodgers injured his shoulder on a scramble in the third quarter on Sunday in Tampa. He went back in after the injury to throw a touchdown pass to Greg Jennings, then sat out a series, and then returned one more time before exiting the game for good.

Rodgers thought after the game he might have dislocated or separated the shoulder, and on Monday McCarthy termed the injury a shoulder sprain. It sounds like Rodgers will test the shoulder in practice on Wednesday, the first practice in preparation for the Atlanta game, and proceed from there.

"They're going to obviously rehab him today and tomorrow and we'll probably have a better idea Wednesday," McCarthy said. "Speaking with Aaron this morning, he has every intention on playing, but I think Wednesday's practice will be a pretty good indicator for us. It's just something we'll have to continue to rehab and see where we are Wednesday."

McCarthy said the evaluation of the shoulder as the week goes on will include monitoring Rodgers' arm strength as well as how he recovers from one practice day to the next. Rookie backup Matt Flynn will get the necessary work in practice to be ready for Sunday as well.

Rodgers showed the arm strength is still there when he rifled a 48-yard TD pass on a seam route to Jennings the series after he was hurt. What could factor into Rodgers' effectiveness this week is how much the pain subsides between now and the Falcons game.

"My understanding with the scan is there's no major structural damage," McCarthy said. "I think it's just how he responds to rehab and how fast we can move forward.

"He wants to play, was his communication to me. I would say his mindset is strong, very positive."

More on injuries

The already banged-up Packers got even more banged up on Sunday.

McCarthy reported on Monday that offensive tackle Chad Clifton and defensive end Jason Hunter have hamstring strains, linebacker A.J. Hawk has a groin strain, defensive end Cullen Jenkins has a strained pectoral muscle, safety Aaron Rouse has a sprained knee, and cornerback/returner Will Blackmon has a thigh bruise.

That's in addition to the five other injuries - safety Atari Bigby's hamstring, cornerback Al Harris' spleen, fullback Korey Hall's knee, receiver James Jones' knee and running back Kregg Lumpkin's hamstring - that kept players from suiting up on Sunday. Cornerback Charles Woodson also continues to play on a broken toe that has prevented him from practicing the past three weeks, and safety Nick Collins toughed it out Sunday when his bad back bothered him again.

McCarthy praised the effort of the many players who battled through their injuries to stay on the field Sunday.

"We had a bunch of guys that were nicked up throughout the game that went back in and fought and gave us a chance to win that game in the fourth quarter," he said.

The severity of the new injuries will be indicated by how much those players practice, if at all, on Wednesday when the preparation begins for Atlanta. McCarthy didn't rule anybody in or out of this week's game, with the exception of Harris, who will be sidelined at least a few more weeks.

Solid replacement

Tramon Williams started at cornerback in place of Harris and fared well. The second-year pro wasn't picked on as much as some replacements at his position might be, and he came up with the first of the defense's three interceptions in the second half when he snagged a ball that deflected off the hands of Bucs receiver Michael Clayton near the goal line.

Williams also broke up a pass play to receiver Antonio Bryant on third down on Tampa Bay's first series, forcing a punt. In addition to the two passes defensed, he was also credited with two solo tackles.

"Tramon Williams played well, played very well," McCarthy said. "He played very good as far as the coverage stuff. He had a couple of run fits that he can clean up, but definitely had the big play down there with the interception. He played OK on special teams. I would definitely say he had a winning performance."

{sportsad300}Special teams sloppy

For the second straight week, the Packers' special teams did not perform up to the level they did in the first two games of the season.

The kick coverage team allowed an average of 28.8 yards on four returns, including a 45-yarder by Dexter Jackson, while the kick return unit averaged only 16.7 yards on six runbacks and committed a personal foul penalty. Also, punter Derrick Frost posted averages of just 38.0 gross yards and 30.2 net yards on five punts, well below the numbers he put up in the season opener (45.2 gross, 42.6 net) that have gone downhill since.

"I'm in a little bit of a funk and I need to come out of it," Frost said. "We're just trying to compare when things go right and things go wrong out there. We think we've pinpointed a couple of things. The sad part is I had a great warm-up. I hit the ball great in warm-ups, hit the ball great in practice all week, and just played terrible. It just needs to change."

That goes for the entire special teams play over the last couple of weeks.

"The ability to change field position is important," McCarthy said. "When you have a strong defense like we feel that we do, the ability to play a team like Tampa that has a focus on field position in the game, to lose that battle the way we did is not a positive.

"We've been very strong on special teams maybe the first two contests, but the last two weeks, this is probably as bad a performance as we've had on special teams in some time here. We need to get that fixed."

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