It’s official: barring something unexpected happening between now and Thursday evening, Aaron Rodgers will suit up for the Green Bay Packers and operate the team’s new offense for the first time.
That news comes straight from the head coach, Matt LaFleur. Following the team’s practice on Tuesday, LaFleur told reporters that the current plan is to play the starters for “a quarter or so.” That group includes players on both sides of the football, most notably Rodgers. The one exception appears to be running back Aaron Jones, as he finally was full-go in practice on Tuesday for the first time in a few weeks.
This should be a good test for Rodgers and LaFleur, as the Ravens possess an excellent defense. Baltimore finished second in points allowed a year ago and first in yards allowed, though they were just 22nd in forcing turnovers.
One intriguing question will be how the Packers allocate their snaps on the offensive line. The team has been giving veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga some rest periods this summer, moving Billy Turner over from right guard and inserting rookie Elgton Jenkins in that spot. Tune in on Thursday to see which group will get the playing time in front of Rodgers, but given that Baltimore finished sixth in quarterback hits last year, expect them to try to protect Rodgers as much as reasonably possible.
On defense, this probably means that all of the team’s new free agent additions will be in full uniform. Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos all sat out last week’s opener, while rookie free safety Darnell Savage, Jr. played just one series. Look for all of those players to get some reps early on. This should be interesting for Za’Darius Smith in particular, as he came over from Baltimore as a free agent this offseason.
All told, this should make the first 45 to 50 minutes of Thursday’s game particularly interesting for Packers fans, who will be hoping that all of these key players make it out of the game unscathed.