In recent years, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has received as little playing time as possible in the preseason. Whether the coaching staff conserved his reps to avoid exposing him to big hits or simply felt that he did not need the snaps when games didn’t count, it has often been the third preseason game or nothing for Rodgers.
However, at his locker on Monday, Rodgers did not mince words about his desire to play in the team’s second exhibition contest coming up on Thursday night. That game is against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but more importantly it comes at Lambeau Field, and Rodgers wants to get on the field.
After Monday’s practice, Rodgers told reporters that he wants to play on Thursday, saying “I think I’ll probably play this week — I’d like to in front of our fans.” The Packers’ schedule probably has something to do with that in particular: “Being that we have the first two at home, It’d be nice to get out there back at Lambeau,” he said, “then we’ll see about week 3 and 4.”
It has been a while since Rodgers has suited up at Lambeau. “It’s been a long time,” Rodgers said, before mentioning the week three win over Cincinnati as his last game at home. (Actually, however, his last snaps in a game in Green Bay came in the Packers’ 35-14 victory over the Bears in week 4 last year.)
One of the reasons that Rodgers wants to get playing time in the preseason is to get a few live snaps with some of his new receivers, as well as to continue his connection with the veterans. He pointed to his knowledge of the entire playbook as something that the young receivers will need to adjust to when he is under center compared to other quarterbacks: “When I’m in, everything is up. Everything that’s ever been put in, and then years of back-logged stuff is potentially in as well.” So if Rodgers does play on Thursday, look for him to test some of those young players with some checks and calls at the line of scrimmage. “It’s all up, so you have to be ready.”
With left tackle David Bakhtiari on the mend from a sprained ankle, that gives Rodgers some added comfort in taking some additional preseason snaps earlier than usual. “Dave, for sure. It’d be great to have Dave out there,” Rodgers said. “He’s so steady.” Perhaps Rodgers’ intent to play this week is part of the reason that Bakhtiari is pushing to return to the field for that game as well. Bakhtiari missed practice all last week and sat out the first preseason game before returning to the field on Sunday.
Presumably, Rodgers has discussed his desire to play with head coach Mike McCarthy prior to bringing it up to the media; if not, that would make for an awkward moment in the meeting room this evening. For Packers fans in attendance on Thursday, however, it looks like you’ll be in luck and should see #12 in uniform.