MINNEAPOLIS – Aaron Rodgers couldn’t wait for halftime.
And he can’t wait for the bye week.
Dealing with a toe injury that he described as “very, very painful,” Rodgers threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns in the Green Bay Packers’ 34-31 loss at the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. It was a painful day for Rodgers, but not nearly as painful as it was for one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. Star guard-turned-tackle Elgton Jenkins reportedly suffered a torn ACL, according to NFL Network.
Early in the fourth quarter, safety Harrison Smith got past Jenkins and sacked Rodgers. Jenkins immediately clutched his knee.
LaFleur said he didn’t have an update on Jenkins. But with left tackle David Bakhtiari having missed the last four practices following last year’s torn ACL, it’s possible the Packers will be down to their No. 3 left tackle for the rest of the season.
It could be a devastating development for an offense that finally got rolling during the second half on Sunday.
Rodgers barely practiced last week – about 15 reps on Friday was the extent of it – and it might be a similar plan of attack as the Packers prepare for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
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“It’s a little worse than turf toe,” Rodgers said. “I’m just going to have to get to the bye and hope I can get some healing over the bye week. Probably the same schedule next week. Was in a lot of pain. Went in at halftime early to get it checked out. It’s very, very painful. Got stepped on the first half, and that kind of activated all the symptoms I was having. It’s going to be another painful week and next week and then hopefully start to feel a little better on the bye.”
Perhaps rusty after an unusual few weeks that included a Thursday night game without his receivers, a 10-day COVID isolation and a 17-day stretch without practice snaps, Rodgers completed 13-of-22 passes for 188 yards in the first half. Those glittering stats hid the sporadic nature of the offense. Three completions gained 101 yards and the other 19 attempts mustered only 87. Late in the second quarter, Rodgers got a head-start to the locker room to get the toe checked. When the Packers got the ball with a few seconds to go in the half, it was Jordan Love who took the snap and drained the clock.
Rodgers gritted through whatever pain he was feeling during a virtuoso second half. He was 10-of-11 passing for 197 yards – his only incompletion was a throwaway – and three touchdowns. The Packers got the ball three times in the second half. All three ended up in the end zone.
The outcome of the game and the injury to Jenkins tarnish the silver in that lining.
Just a few weeks ago, when Bakhtiari returned to practice, it led to optimism that the Packers would have the All-Pro Bakhtiari at left tackle and the Pro Bowler Jenkins at center or guard for the stretch run. Instead, it’s possible they’ll have neither.
The Packers finished the day with an all-star team out with injuries. Outside linebacker Rashan Gary (elbow), receiver Allen Lazard (shoulder), running back Aaron Jones (knee) and Bakhtiari were inactive. Cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder), outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (back), tight end Robert Tonyan (knee) and center Josh Myers (knee) are on injured reserve. Jenkins made it nine key players out of the lineup.
“He’s been so versatile for us,” Rodgers said of Jenkins. “I think he can play every position on the line. So, definitely hate to see that happen. Not sure what his official status is coming out of the game but with Dave’s status unknown, we have to rely on probably Yosh. He’s played some good football for us. Proud of the way he stepped in. Hopefully, the news isn’t so bad with Elgton.”