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With Lack of Practice Time Holding Back Offense, Rodgers Misses Wednesday

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was not on the practice field on Wednesday as he deals with a toe injury.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Practice might not make perfect, but not practicing makes for imperfect.

That’s how Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur viewed the root of the problems in the Aaron Rodgers-led passing game.

“If you trace it back, I mean, shoot, we haven’t really practiced a whole bunch,” LaFleur said on Monday, a day after a 17-0 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. “Basically, the week before Arizona was all walk-through, so it’s not like he was getting a ton of time with these guys, and then we had different receivers the last time he played. And then you’re getting all these guys back [while Rodgers was out with COVID] so, naturally, there was probably a little bit of a dip in terms of from our passing game, but I think it’s everybody.

“We’ve got to get back out on the practice field. We need those guys to continue to work on the timing portion, making sure that the details of our route depths and our assignments are on point because, I think right now if you just look at as a whole, there is opportunity out there for us.”

LaFleur’s hope for additional practice time was met with a different reality on Wednesday. Rodgers did not practice on Wednesday and wasn't sure if he'd practice this week. He is dealing with a toe injury that popped up on Saturday’s injury report, when he returned to the team following a bout with COVID-19.

“My toe is OK. Made it through the game and definitely happy for that,” Rodgers said after the game.

The team had four players selected to last year’s All-Pro team. None of them practiced on Wednesday, with receiver Davante Adams, left tackle David Bakhtiari and cornerback Jaire Alexander not practicing. Two other receivers, Allen Lazard and Malik Taylor, did not practice, either.

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Bakhtiari, recovering from last year’s torn ACL, has missed the first 10 games of the season. Asked before practice if this would be the weak for Bakhtiari, LaFleur said:

“I sure hope so, but again, it’s going to be a day-by-day process and we’ll see where he’s at.”

The biggest thing holding the Packers’ offense back has been its red-zone performance. Rodgers is 23rd in red-zone passer rating, his 85.4 lagging behind the likes of Trevor Siemian and Jacoby Brissett. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns vs. two interceptions and completed 55.4 percent of his passes. Adams has caught 4-of-7 passes for three touchdowns. In 2020, Rodgers was No. 1 with a 119.1 passer rating on the strength of 35 touchdowns vs. zero interceptions and a 72.0 percent completion rate.

Overall, his completion percentage is down 4.3 percent, he’s averaging 0.8 yards less per attempt and his passer rating has plunged nearly 20 points compared to 2020, when he joined Steve Young as the only quarterbacks in 80 years to lead the NFL in completion percentage, touchdown percentage and interception percentage.

Green Bay is 19th in scoring after leading the league last year. It is scoring 10.2 fewer points per game than in 2020.

For LaFleur, it’s finding that perhaps-impossible-to-find middle ground that balances the right amount of practice time to get players ready but not so much practice time that impacts their performance on Sunday.

“That’s the trick right now,” LaFleur said on Monday. “When we have, I don’t even know what week are we going on?

“Week 11. Without a bye. It does get long. So, that is going to be a challenge, I think, for us, in terms of, how do you make it so that we’re getting what we need from an actual practice standpoint but yet keeping everybody fresh and so we can fly around? Because the speed is absolutely one thing that can benefit you and the more you practice, sometimes it takes away from that.”


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