Aaron Rodgers limited at practice with right shoulder injury
The physical toll of facing more pressure in the pocket has caught up with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The player that the sluggish Packers can least afford to lose was listed as limited in practice on Wednesday with a right shoulder injury.
Coach Mike McCarthy said before practice that his quarterback was "banged up." Rodgers agreed with that assessment, though he said he was not concerned about his availability for Sunday's crucial game at Minnesota.
"Probably banged up. But we all are at this time. It's Week 11 coming up, everybody is dealing with different things," Rodgers said. "You get a routine, learn how to take care of your body and push through things."
Still, Rodgers' health is just the latest worrisome issue for the Packers. A three-game losing skid has dropped Green Bay a game back of the NFC North-leading Vikings.
Fourteen players were listed on the Packers injury report, including Rodgers and all of the team's starting offensive linemen except for center Corey Linsley. The starters on the right side of the line, tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) and guard T.J. Lang (shoulder) sat out Wednesday's light practice entirely.
McCarthy had longer meetings and walk-throughs on Wednesday, and pushed back practice. He also has to prepare for a short turnaround following the Vikings game since the Packers host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving night.
Protecting Rodgers is always a priority. An offensive line that McCarthy considered last year to be the best during the coach's decade-long tenure in Green Bay hasn't played to that high level this season.
McCarthy has said that Rodgers has been hit too much over the past three games. Rodgers has been sacked 22 times this season, with half of those sacks in the last three games.
That's not counting the other hits that Rodgers has taken, too.
Rodgers, for whatever reason, looked a little off in Sunday's 18-16 loss to last-place Detroit. He was 35 of 61 for 333 yards and two scores.
"Missed some throws that I usually hit. We had some catches to catch balls we couldn't catch in order to sustain drives. And then we had a couple mental errors," Rodgers said.
The loss to the Lions is the low point in the surprising downturn of the Packers' once vaunted offense. Slowly, defenses have adjusted with the Packers operating without their top deep threat, receiver Jordy Nelson, who was lost in the preseason with a right knee injury.
Without Nelson, teams are pressing receivers to disrupt routes and bringing a safety up to help with the run. The Packers' leading receiver on Sunday, Davante Adams caught 10 of his 21 targets for 79 yards.
"Well, I think in August when you saw Jordy go down, you expected that this was going to be the way that people would go," Rodgers said.
The rushing attack, in turn, has struggled with Eddie Lacy having a subpar year, leaving James Starks without half of Green Bay's one-two punch in the backfield.
Lacy was a full participant on Wednesday after missing the Lions game with a groin injury. The Packers last week managed just a season-low 47 yards on 18 carries against what was then the league's 30th-worst defense against the run.
"So I look for Eddie hopefully to be able to open up this week and he'll go second again. James will take the first series and Eddie will go second and we'll see how it balances out," McCarthy said.
Even new contributors on offense can't stay healthy.
Receiver Jared Abbrederis had a breakout game with four catches for 57 yards against Detroit, but hurt his ribs on a 32-yard reception in the fourth quarter. McCarthy said Abbrederis would miss a few weeks.
As for Rodgers, he said he's on his usual schedule. Friends were in town on Monday and they watched football.
"Tuesday, I had my normal routine," he said in a subdued voice, "came in here, worked out, acupuncture, massage, film, relax, dinner, sleep, wake up, here I am."
Notes: LT David Bakhtiari and LG Josh Sitton were each listed as limited with knee injuries. .. S Micah Hyde (hip) and LB Clay Matthews (ankle/knee) were also limited.