On Monday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressed his desire and expectation to play in the second preseason game of the 2018 exhibition season. On Tuesday, his head coach followed those comments up with more comments that indicate that QB1 will indeed take the field this week.
Mike McCarthy took questions from the media on Tuesday morning and indicated that all four quarterbacks on the Packers’ roster could get some playing time against the Pittsburgh Steelers this week. “The goal is to play Aaron on Thursday,” McCarthy said, before hedghing just a bit on that commitment. “We’ve got to see,” he said; “the coordination of every rep we achieve on the practice field, whether it’s an individual drill (or) combination drill, you factor all those things in the training of your football team. At the forefront of your decisions is always being smart with Aaron, but the combination of who he plays with is important too.”
Those “combinations,” as McCarthy put it, likely refer both to personnel groupings among the skill position players around Rodgers as well as the offensive line in front of him. Rodgers has long-established chemistry with the top three wide receivers on the team — Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Geronimo Allison — so McCarthy may be interested in seeing him in game action with other recently-added pass-catchers. That group would likely consist of Jimmy Graham as well as the three rookie draft picks and Jake Kumerow.
As for the offensive line, it is clear that left tackle David Bakhtiari’s availability is weighing on McCarthy’s mind. He wants to make absolutely sure that Rodgers’ season does not end before it begins, and giving him his blind-side protector would drastically reduce the chances of an injury. Making Rodgers’ playing time contingent on Bakhtiari playing is “not an absolute,” as McCarthy said, noting that other variables are in play, but he added that “Bakhtiari’s health is important to this decision.”
Meanwhile, the Packers’ other tackle, Bryan Bulaga, still appears to be a long shot to play on Thursday, though he has begun taking a handful of first-team reps in practice this week.
In addition to Rodgers and the tackles, McCarthy gave a bit of insight on the status of the Packers’ right guard competition when asked about Justin McCray. McCarthy said “I hope so” when asked if McCray had earned the starting spot. “He’s done a lot of good things ... you’d like to keep the competition open but he’s done a heck of a job at this point.”
Based on those comments, it sounds like Packers fans can realistically mark McCray down as the week one starter at right guard. As for this week, however, it also appears that #12 should be suiting up and playing at least a couple of series on Thursday.