Skip to main content

Training Camp Report: Rodgers Heading Home

When asked on Thursday after practice for his thoughts about going back home to northern California to face the San Francisco 49ers in Saturday night’s preseason game, Rodgers started by saying, "It’s just another game ..." But he had no chance to downplay it. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 13

Aaron Rodgers wasn't even going to try to play it coy. He wouldn't get away with it anyhow.

When asked on Thursday after practice for his thoughts about going back home to northern California to face the San Francisco 49ers in Saturday night's preseason game, Rodgers started by saying, "It's just another game ..."

But the smile on his face said even he, having handled a potentially tumultuous situation like a pro the past few weeks, had no chance to downplay it. And the Chico, Calif., native and Cal-Berkeley alum doesn't want to, because it most certainly will be a special trip for Rodgers this weekend.

"This one is going to be fun," Rodgers said. "I've got a lot of family and friends coming down. It's three hours from my hometown, across the Bay from where I played college. The area is very special to me."

So is the opponent. Not only are the 49ers the team Rodgers grew up watching, but they're also the team that passed him over for the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, choosing Utah quarterback Alex Smith instead.

That began Rodgers' well-chronicled fall to the 24th selection, where he was picked by Green Bay. Stung initially by the snub from his boyhood team, Rodgers has long since gotten over it. He's not out to show up the 49ers on Saturday night, but like anytime he competes, he wants to have success, and particularly in front of dozens of friends and family that will be in attendance.

"I don't think I have anything to prove to them," Rodgers said of playing against the Niners. "I'd like to throw a couple touchdowns for sure, but I just want to play well. I want our offense to be able to move the ball and be consistent. We'll see what happens."

Yet another part of this storyline involves Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco when the 49ers drafted Smith over Rodgers.

McCarthy and Rodgers immediately buried any proverbial hatchet regarding the 2005 draft as soon as McCarthy arrived here in 2006. But McCarthy did recall seeing Rodgers put on a heck of a pre-draft workout at Berkeley, even though he now admits he didn't grade Rodgers' outside-the-pocket ability as high as he probably should have.

"He had as good a workout that I've seen from a college quarterback," McCarthy said. "He made all the throws that day, particularly ones rolling to his left and throwing across his body. He had a great workout.

"He was one of three guys that was going to be picked with the first pick in the draft. I think that in itself says a lot."

So what does it say that McCarthy is now coaching Rodgers as the Packers' new starter and quarterback of the future? The coach hands that one over to fate.

"I think it's bigger than all of us. I'm a big believer things happen for a reason," McCarthy said, echoing similar thoughts expressed by Rodgers himself. "He came to Green Bay for a reason. I think his path when it's all said and done will be the best path for him, and I'm glad he's our quarterback."

Receivers on the mend

In all likelihood, the Packers will be without two of their top five receivers on Saturday night, but both Greg Jennings and Ruvell Martin are very close to returning.

Jennings didn't play in Monday's preseason opener and sat out practice again Thursday, dealing with soreness in his knee. The third-year wideout doesn't consider the injury a big deal, though, and says he's just focusing on getting 100 percent healthy. Last year a hamstring injury at the tail end of training camp forced Jennings to miss the first two regular-season games, and he doesn't want something like that to happen again.

"I can run full speed, I can cut, I can do everything," Jennings said. "If this were the regular season, I could go. It bothers me only to the point where it's, 'Ouch,' but it's not something like, 'I can't go.' Nothing major.

"It's just a matter of not turning it into something big. I could have played Monday, I could play Saturday, but why? I think that's the big picture, the regular season ... there's no reason to risk missing any games."

{sportsad300}Meanwhile Martin, who took a wicked hit from a Cincinnati defender Monday night that gave him a bruised jaw and a slight concussion, returned to the practice field on Thursday. But it was just a "shells" practice without full pads, and it seems unlikely Martin would be cleared for full contact again so soon.

"I felt fine that night I went home, but that's not what it's determined on when dealing with a head injury," Martin said. "They look at stuff that you can't necessarily feel. As soon as I came to and was on the sidelines, I felt fine, but that didn't necessarily mean I was fine."

The fact that Martin was back at practice on Thursday was a strong sign his recovery is going smoothly, though, and that post-concussion effects are not lingering.

Injury/participation update

Among other injured players, McCarthy said that everyone who sat out practice on Thursday is unlikely to play on Saturday. Those players are: running backs Ryan Grant (hamstring) and DeShawn Wynn (ankle), safety Charlie Peprah (hamstring), linebackers A.J. Hawk (chest) and Desmond Bishop (Achilles), tackle Orrin Thompson (ankle), tight end Tory Humphrey (Achilles), defensive tackles Ryan Pickett (hamstring) and Justin Harrell (back), and defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee).

Wide receiver Brett Swain (quad) did very limited work in practice, and his status for the game is uncertain as well.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content