Sports

Rodgers (toe) doesn’t practice but will face Rams

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Keeping quarterback Aaron Rodgers off his fractured toe was more important to the Green Bay Packers this week than getting him on the practice field.

That’s how coach Matt LaFleur approached the lead-up to Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers did not practice Friday, making him a nonparticipant all week. A week earlier, he at least got a few reps in the Friday practice leading up to last Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings — a game in which Rodgers started slowly but was nearly unstoppable after halftime, leading touchdown drives on every second-half possession.

Jordan Love handled all the practice snaps all week.

“Well, he came down to practice,” LaFleur said Friday of Rodgers. “He didn’t participate in practice, but he was out there and relaying the calls to Jordan, just getting that practice of just saying the playcalls.”

LaFleur left no doubt that Rodgers will start, saying, “Yeah, he’ll play.”

This has become the new norm since Rodgers went on the reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 3. He missed the following game at Kansas City and returned to the team the day before the Nov. 14 game against Seattle, a 17-0 win. Since his return from the reserve list Nov. 13, Rodgers has practiced just once.

“It’s been how it’s been going the past couple of weeks,” Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “The one thing that I’ll tell you is, my respect for him as a player goes up nonstop. Everybody talks about how he can throw the ball as good as he can, but his toughness is unbelievable. For him to do what he’s doing with this going on is awesome. We trust him a ton and know that he’s going to do whatever he needs to do to get ready for the game and to be able to go.”

Rodgers on Wednesday cleared up some of the mystery surrounding his toe injury, which he said happened during his COVID-19 quarantine, and left open the possibility that he could have surgery during next week’s bye as long as it wouldn’t keep him out of any games.

“It comes down to managing the pain,” Rodgers said earlier this week.

The Packers (8-3) have several other injury issues to deal with, while the Rams (7-3) are coming into the game relatively healthy off their bye week.

In addition to playing without three starting offensive linemen (David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins and Josh Myers) and two of their top defensive players ( cornerback Jaire Alexander and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith), the Packers have three key players listed as questionable for Sunday: running back Aaron Jones (knee), wide receiver Allen Lazard (shoulder) and outside linebacker Rashan Gary (elbow). None of those three played last week against the Vikings, but they all practiced to varying degrees this week.

“If a guy is cleared to play, we’ll let him go,” LaFleur said when asked about the impact of next week’s bye on the decision-making process. “But you’re also mindful of what you have in front of you.”

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