In a span of seven days, the Green Bay Packers went from booking hotels across the St. Croix River for the Super Bowl in February to DEFCON 1.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers might be out for the year.
The six-time Pro Bowler, two-time MVP and Super Bowl champion suffered a broken collarbone during the first quarter of Green Bay’s sobering 23-10 loss to the rival Minnesota Vikings, just one week removed from a last-minute comeback victory over the Dallas Cowboys that slotted the Packers as favorites for a deep postseason run.
The injuries didn’t stop there, either.
Center Corey Linsley and Jahri Evans were the two remaining starters in the fourth quarter on the Packers offensive line, a unit that began Sunday’s game with all five preseason projected starters on the field together for the first time in 2017. Running back Ty Montgomery visited the blue medical tent in the third quarter. Defensive back Quentin Rollins left the game late in the first half, and Lenzy Pipkins — playing in his first NFL game — needed help getting off the field in the third quarter.
Brett Hundley took over at quarterback for the Packers after Rodgers’ injury. He played like, well, a backup on Sunday, throwing a trio of interceptions — two goofy ones, might I add — and was overwhelmed by a Minnesota pass rush that’s nothing short of elite at home.
Blake Martinez was all over the field — just like he’s been all year. The 23-year-old inside linebacker tallied 11 tackles against the Vikings, the third time he’s notched 11 or more in the past four weeks. Martinez is showing he can be a star for this Green Bay defense for years to come.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
Speaking of rising stars, wide receiver Davante Adams found himself in the end zone again on Sunday, although this time he spared himself a $6,000 fine by electing to not toss the pigskin into the stands. Adams had his coming-out party last season, racking up 997 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s picked up right where he left off, establishing himself as a legitimate red zone threat on a team that already has Pro Bowlers Martellus Bennett, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as options in the passing game.
USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
On the Packers’ second possession of the afternoon, Rodgers rolled out right on second down and hurled a pass — that was dropped — by tight end Martellus Bennett. After Rodgers released the ball, Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr finished laying a hit on the quarterback, and Rodgers landed awkwardly on his right arm. He was carted off the field a few minutes later, and it was soon reported he suffered a broken collarbone and will miss significant time, if not the rest of the year.
Rodgers was sidelined for nine weeks in 2013 with a fractured collarbone. In those nine games, Green Bay went 3-5-1 with Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace all getting at least one start under center. Flynn fared the best out of the three, throwing seven touchdown passes and four interceptions to make the Seattle Seahawks look slightly less foolish for the contract they gifted him in 2012. But that’s another story for another time.
Green Bay currently has two quarterbacks on the roster: Hundley and Joe Callahan, who will presumably get the call up this week from the practice squad. Callahan, in his second professional season, played Division III football at Wesley and bounced around between the Packers, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns in 2016.
Ty Montgomery returned to the Packers running attack on Sunday … but with limited success. Neither he nor last week’s star Aaron Jones could muster much against a Vikings defense that ranks third in the league against the run (78.7 yards per game). Green Bay was behind for most of the afternoon but nonetheless couldn’t get the ground game going, rushing 24 times for 72 yards (3.0 average).
With Rodgers out, a heavier load falls on Montgomery and co. the rest of the way.
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THEY SAID IT
“Just that I love him. Like I said, he’s a brother, and I am going to lead this team to the best of my abilities. I was letting him know that I’ve got him.” — Hundley on his conversation with Rodgers as he was carted off the field
“As long as he has confidence and comes into the huddle setting the right tone and voice, we will be fine. I don’t have any doubt in Brett Hundley.” — center Corey Linsley
“I thought he did well. I think he had some bad luck out there. His first interception, his last interception, those were just some fluke plays, so we have to make more plays for him.” — Jordy Nelson on Hundley’s performance
“Losing Aaron Rodgers speaks for itself. In my opinion, he is the best player in football, but this is a team game. This is the ultimate team game, and we need to be better with the 11 people on the field that we have regardless of the phase that were in, and ultimately that is my responsibility.” — head coach Mike McCarthy
USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
Green Bay comes back home to host the New Orleans Saints, who are fresh off a 52-38 stomping of Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Will a roster move at QB happen by then in Green Bay? Only time will tell.