Packers' Aaron Rodgers to miss practice, focus on rehab

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) As reporters encircled Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at his locker, linebacker Clay Matthews hurried past and shouted out in jest perhaps the most important question of the week.

''A-Rod, are you playing?'' Matthews yelled.

Oh yes, Rodgers plans to play Sunday against the Chicago Bears . He just didn't practice Wednesday to focus on rehabbing his leg injuries, a plan coach Mike McCarthy said will likely stay in place for the quarterback through Thursday.

McCarthy said Rodgers told him not to hold anything back for the game plan against the Bears as Green Bay seeks a fourth consecutive victory as they chase a spot in the playoffs.

''I'm very optimistic by nature. So we can always take things out. It's harder to add things back in,'' Rodgers said. ''So get everything in, and if there's anything we've got to take out on Sunday, we'll do that.''

The Packers (7-6) have won three straight heading into a three-game stretch to end the regular season against NFC North foes. Tied with Minnesota for second at two games behind Detroit, Green Bay needs help to return to the playoffs an eighth straight season.

Rodgers hurt his left hamstring a few weeks ago against the Eagles. He hurt his right calf while throwing a 66-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams on the third play of the 38-10 victory last weekend over the Seattle Seahawks.

''I'm feeling better. I appreciate the time to rehab. With an injury like this, it's really about maximizing rehab time,'' Rodgers said Wednesday. ''So I got to get a couple extra hours there with the training staff. It was good.''

The leg injuries have limited Rodgers' mobility. The two-time NFL MVP was still able to dissect the Seattle defense for 246 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-23 passing before leaving early in the fourth quarter with his team up by four scores.

''Oh yeah, I mean, Aaron Rodgers is as tough as anybody I've ever known,'' McCarthy said.

He recalled one instance in Rodgers' first season as the starter in 2008 when he sprained his right shoulder against Tampa. McCarthy wasn't sure how limited Rodgers' arm might be the next week against Atlanta.

Then late in the first quarter of the Falcons game, McCarthy called a deep shot to Donald Driver on third-and-1, briefly forgetting about Rodgers' injury. Rodgers hit the pass, then finished 25 of 37 for 313 yards and three touchdowns.

''That was a big moment for him and he's done that so many times now, probably things that may not seem as big,'' McCarthy said. ''His focus, it's extraordinary.''

TIE IT UP

The NFL's oldest rivalry will have its 194th meeting, but Sunday's game could mark a milestone in the series.

The Bears lead the series 94-93-6, including a split of two postseason games. A Packers win on Sunday would tie the series for the first time since 1933.

While that would be nice, Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga don't need any extra motivation.

''I think the motivation is to win the game and keep ourselves in a good place with what we got going on here,'' Bulaga said. ''The overall record is what it is ... but it's just about winning and playing good football and improving as a team.''

INJURY REPORT

Jared Cook was a full participant in practice after the tight end left the Seahawks game late in the second quarter with a chest injury. ... Matthews was a full participant for the first time in a couple weeks, a sign his shoulder injury might be improving. Matthews played mainly in pass-rush situations against Seattle. ... LB Nick Perry (hand) may not practice until Saturday, McCarthy said. The team leader with eight sacks, Perry missed the Seahawks game.

TRANSACTION

The team signed linebacker Jordan Tripp on Wednesday. A fifth-round draft pick of the Dolphins in 2014, Tripp last played with Seattle, appearing in seven games with one start before being placed on injured reserve on Dec. 3. He reached an injury settlement on Dec. 9. Tripp has 11 career tackles.

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Follow Genaro Armas at: https://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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