Packers' pass game takes step forward despite loss, injuries
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Even in defeat, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sharp when the Green Bay Packers needed him most.
Despite the Packers' 33-32 loss to Atlanta on Sunday, there were other positives from the passing game.
Most important was the play of Rodgers, who had one of his best performances of the season despite the injuries the Packers had on offense.
Rodgers threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns and added a career-high 60 rushing yards to pace an offense without receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery, running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks, and tight end Jared Cook.
''I think he did a really good job of taking what they gave us,'' coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday.
''The three-man rush, he extended plays and ran it for first downs, so that was very important. The rushing yards are what they are. You don't want your quarterback to be your leading rusher, but it was still extremely productive for us.
Rodgers had a 100-plus passer rating in each of the past two games, a first since the first three weeks of the 2015 season.
He did it on Sunday without Montgomery and Cobb, who combined for 21 receptions in the victory over Chicago on Oct. 20, and without the benefit of a running game with Lacy (ankle) and Starks (knee) sidelined.
On Monday, the Packers released Knile Davis two weeks after acquiring him from the Kansas City Chiefs for a conditional draft choice. Davis had five carries for 5 yards in two games with the Packers.
With an inexperienced supporting cast, Rodgers threw touchdown passes to receivers Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison, with Davis and Allison making their first receptions of the season.
Receiver Davante Adams caught 12 passes for 74 yards after making 13 receptions the previous week against Chicago.
''We'd love to get Jared back soon (and), obviously, Randall and Ty, getting those guys back would help,'' Rodgers said after the game. ''Personally, I'm just really proud of those guys who made plays today.''
The Packers host Indianapolis on Sunday before a stretch of three straight road games: Tennessee, Washington and Philadelphia.
Help might be close to being on the way.
Montgomery was held out after blood was discovered in his urine. He said on Monday that he has sickle cell trait. This was the first time, Montgomery said, that he had blood in his urine.
''You may be living with sickle-cell trait and not even know it,'' Montgomery said. ''Not everybody experiences the symptoms, and I did.''
McCarthy said Montgomery wanted to play and went through a pregame workout, but the medical staff took ''the high side of caution'' and ruled him out.
According to the American Society of Hematology, between 1 million and 3 million Americans have sickle cell trait. Most live normal lives, but high-intensity physical activity can lead to complications.
''I don't see any'' risks, Montgomery said. ''It doesn't concern me.''
McCarthy said Cook made a ''big step toward getting back'' last week as he recovers from an ankle injury sustained in Week 3 vs. Detroit, though it's unclear if the tight end will start practicing this week. Cobb has a hamstring injury.
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