Rodgers’ scrambling adds threat to Pack’s offense

Aaron Rodgers’ strategy for backing out of a snowy driveway

sounds a lot like his on-field approach to scrambling: full speed

ahead.

More than a foot of snow fell in the area over 24 hours, and

Rodgers woke up early Wednesday having to hustle to make morning

meetings at Lambeau Field.

“I couldn’t believe how much snow was out there,” Rodgers

said. “So I shoveled out just out like four feet in back of my

garage, and I just gunned it.”

If the Baltimore Ravens’ defense couldn’t catch him, Rodgers

wasn’t about to get his truck stuck in a snowbank.

Hobbled by foot injuries earlier this season, Rodgers was back

to his scrambling best in Monday night’s victory over the Ravens.

He showed a veteran’s feel for pass rush pressure, consistently

slipping away from trouble. He also converted a critical

second-and-17 play with a 23-yard scramble in the second

quarter.

Rodgers knows NFL teams didn’t consider him much of a runner

coming out of college, but he’s proving them wrong as a pro. Today,

any team that underrates Rodgers’ scrambling ability could be in

for trouble.

“It’s pretty satisfying to be able to move around and be able

to make plays with my feet, especially since I think that’s often

an overlooked part of my game,” Rodgers said. “Maybe not any

more, but especially when I was coming out (of college). I felt

like people underrated my athleticism at times.”

Rodgers has been a productive passer since taking over as the

starter last season. But when faced with heavy pass rush pressure

earlier this season, he sometimes held on to the ball too long.

Now Rodgers seems to have more faith in his line – the Packers

have given up only four sacks in their last three games – and coach

Mike McCarthy said Rodgers’ feel for the dos and don’ts of

scrambling was evident Monday night.

“When you train the quarterback to have in-pocket awareness and

out-of-pocket awareness, there’s the gray area: When do you stay

in, when do you come out?,” McCarthy said. “It’s a whole another

phase of quarterback development that you’re always working on. And

I thought he was very smart.”

Rodgers never vented frustration about his shoddy protection

earlier this season. But he now says he has a “good feel” for the

line, which has been bolstered by the return of veteran right

tackle Mark Tauscher and a renewed commitment to the short passing

game.

“Having those guys being able to play together now for a couple

weeks in a row, I feel like we’re on the same page time-clock

wise,” Rodgers said. “And it’s nice having ‘Tausch’ over there,

he’s been very consistent for us.”

Rodgers said the Packers were surprised at how much linebacker

pressure the Ravens brought on Monday, trying to contain Rodgers in

the pocket. It didn’t work, as the Ravens only sacked Rodgers once

and he consistently bought more time with his feet.

Rodgers said Baltimore also used a surprising amount of two-deep

safety coverage with man-to-man coverage underneath, leaving the

quarterback plenty of room to roam in the middle of the field –

especially on his 23-yard scramble that set up a touchdown just

before halftime.

Rodgers knows plays like that can demoralize a defense.

“I like to think so,” Rodgers said. “I pride myself on the

way I take care of my body, and I put a lot of work in this

offseason to get faster and increase my foot speed. I take a lot of

pride in being able to extend plays.”

But while Rodgers might be quick on his feet, it’s taking the

Northern California native a while to get used to the weather in

Green Bay.

“I think this is probably the worst in five years,” Rodgers

said. “There was a blizzard a couple years ago, I think, but I

don’t remember this much snow falling in this (short) time

period.”

Players had to scramble to make a 7:30 a.m. special teams

meeting, and a few snowed-in folks needed rides to Lambeau Field.

But beyond a few rescheduled weightlifting sessions, McCarthy said

the snow didn’t cause a significant disruption.

“That’s the biggest storm that I have seen since I’ve been

here,” McCarthy said. “We were able to roll this morning. We’ve

had a good day so far.”

McCarthy – who got up at 4 a.m. to clear the snow out of his own

driveway and still made it to the office before 6 – said he

probably won’t take players outside for practice this week. The

Packers do have a new heated outdoor practice field this season,

allowing them to go outside with fewer concerns about injuries.

“We’ll be indoors tomorrow and Friday,” McCarthy said.

“That’s basically because of the wind more than anything.”

Rodgers, meanwhile, has friends staying at his house after

missing their flight home.

“Hopefully, they shoveled that driveway today,” Rodgers

said.