GREEN BAY – Interim head coach Joe Philbin said it earlier on Wednesday, that the 2018 Packers have five more days to be together before the team facility becomes a “ghost town” sometime Monday afternoon.
With the season finale vs. Detroit fast approaching, that reality wasn’t lost on the locker room after practice, especially on the veteran players who know all about the change that is constant in the NFL.
“You just enjoy this last week together,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Every team is never going to be the same regardless of final record of how you finish up. There’s going to be a lot of moving pieces in the offseason.
“We’re just going to try to finish up the right way with another win for Joe, give Joe the best chance moving forward, and end it at home in front of our fans the right way.”
In addition to a seventh win on the ledger, several individual accomplishments would help end things nicely, too.
That list is topped by receiver Davante Adams, of course, who is two receptions and 134 yards away from breaking the franchise’s single-season records for catches (Sterling Sharpe, 112 in 1993) and yards (Jordy Nelson, 1,519 in 2014). Adams sat out practice on Wednesday with a sore knee from an early hit in last week’s Jets game, but he expressed optimism he’ll be playing in Sunday’s finale.
While pushing a team win as most important, Adams also continues to emphasize that he doesn’t look at any statistics in 2018 as some sort of culmination, but rather an ongoing climb.
“The best thing about things like this is I feel like they come when you don’t really expect them,” Adams said. “Not that I didn’t expect to put up numbers, but I didn’t go into it saying I want to beat Jordy’s record. I went into it saying I want to try to beat my stuff from previous years.
“The good thing about the football gods is they reward you when you have your head on straight and you’re worried about the right things. Obviously, I would much rather trade in whatever it is – records, whatever – to be in a better position to be competing for a championship right now. But it’s definitely an awesome thing when you can kind of reflect where I’ve been and where I’m headed, because I don’t even like to talk about where I am now because I feel like I’m still not there.”
That echoes what Rodgers said about Adams a week ago, and the quarterback is certainly aware of the history his top target is chasing.
“I’d like to hit him on a touchdown pass for any type of record he’s breaking,” Rodgers said. “It would be a little more dramatic.”
For the record, Rodgers is on track for a couple of team records, too. With 22 pass attempts, he’ll pass Brett Favre’s single-season mark of 613 in 2006, and with 228 yards, he’ll beat his own standard of 4,643 from his first MVP season of 2011. More of a longshot would be Rodgers’ own record total of 401 completions from 2016, as he needs 33, a total he’s hit only once all season (last week, 37).
Others have personal milestones that would still rank as meaningful, even if they come in a disappointing season for the team.
- Third-year outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell needs just a half sack for 10 sacks on the season, his first year in double digits. As a team, the Packers have 43 sacks, and if they can get two more, they’ll post their highest total in six years (47 in 2012).
- It will be interesting to see where Marquez Valdes-Scantling ultimately ranks among rookie receivers as the regular season concludes. The fifth-round pick out of South Florida is currently sixth in the league in receiving yards among rookies with 538 (fifth among receivers, as Giants running back Saquon Barkley is third at 688). With a big finish, he could jump above Arizona’s Christian Kirk (590), though four other rookies are right on Valdes-Scantling’s heels as well.
- With another game like last week’s, second-year running back Jamaal Williams could top the production from his rookie season despite a more limited role through the middle portion of 2018. After last Sunday’s career-best 156 yards from scrimmage at New York (95 rushing, 61 receiving), Williams needs 97 yards rushing, 69 receiving and/or 167 total yards to surpass his numbers in all three categories from last year.
The Packers were back at Practice Wednesday afternoon going into Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.
Expounding on Williams, he has once again delivered when thrust back into bell-cow duty with Aaron Jones on injured reserve. His rising production over the last two weeks represents his best football of the season.
Rodgers couldn’t give Williams enough credit for the personality and outlook he’s brought to his job, whether he’s been the front-runner or not, and the bright future ahead he sees for Williams and Jones as Green Bay’s backfield duo.
“They have a great approach about their role, job responsibility, and what’s expected of them, and during those times where (Williams) wasn’t the guy, he was incredible,” Rodgers said. “During the week, the approach, his attitude, you root for guys like that, you really do, because he’s such a good locker-room guy, good team guy, never bitchin’, never complainin’.
“I told him before the (Jets) game, 120 yards and a touchdown today, and he actually had more counting the receiving yards. He’s just a guy who’s always in the right spot, his aptitude of the game is fantastic, and that’s the reason he’s been able to stay on the field and be a third-down back, when he wasn’t maybe the first-string guy.”