This week is going to be a short turnaround for the Green Bay Packers as they head into a Thursday Night Football matchup against the Tennessee Titans. The condensed practice schedule leading up to the game makes it difficult for the team to make changes to their lineup, which head coach Matt LaFleur and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia both mentioned on Monday in regard to punt returner Amari Rodgers.
Rodgers opened up the season as both a punt returner and kickoff returner for the Packers but has recently only been returning punts as cornerback Keisean Nixon has taken over kickoff return duties. On Sunday, after one bobbled and one muffed punt return, Rodgers was sat down for Nixon in the second return spot, too.
In the first half of the 2022 season, Rodgers has five official fumbles, which doesn’t include a number of returns that weren’t fielded cleanly or seemingly questionable return decisions. Among the 21 qualifiers this year, Rodgers’ yards per return on punts ranks 17th in the league. To say the least, the former third-round pick has been having a disappointing sophomore campaign.
With all of that in mind, the press had plenty of questions for Bisaccia today about Rodgers when the coaches with the media on Monday. On the topic of Rodgers’ benching, here’s what the “Wefense” general had to say:
The reason for the change was kind of a critical situation where we put the ball on the ground and changed momentum of the game. I just thought it was time to put Keisean in a situation where he could, hopefully, do something to help us win it and take a little bit off that for Amari for the rest of the game. So, we’re evaluating it as we go through here. It’s a short week, obviously, but that’s kind of what transpired to get Keisean back there into the game.
When asked follow-ups, Bisaccia did not want to seem to budge off of his “we’re evaluating it” stance and appeared to want to leave the conversation there. He did go to bat for Rodgers as a person, though, when he stated, “I really like Amari Rodgers. Jersey number eight has put himself and put us in some bad situations. You have to coach the man first and then coach the player, so, we have to go through both of those things when these situations arise.”
Seventh-round rookie receiver Samori Toure’s name was also brought up during the press conference when Bisaccia was asked if Toure was in the mix at the position. Apparently, Toure is also working punt returns in practice, though, we have yet to see it in a game this season. Another name to keep in mind is Corey Ballentine, the cornerback and return man who was promoted to the 53-man roster on Saturday.
It’s uncertain who will be returning punts against the Titans this week, but it will be a position that fans will be keeping an eye on moving forward. With the Packers up against the ropes with little margin of error to make it into the postseason, Green Bay can’t afford to lose special teams fumbles in every other game.