McCarthy praises Rodgers’ fitness ahead of Packers camp
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Looking good, Aaron Rodgers.
Coach Mike McCarthy said his quarterback arrived at Green Bay Packers training camp in great shape, just in time for his 12th season in the NFL.
"I would say this is the best shape I’ve seen him in," McCarthy said Monday as players reported for medical and conditioning tests.
Rodgers last season had his lowest passer rating (92.7) and completion percentage (60.7) since taking over as the starter in 2008. He had minor surgery after the playoffs to clean up a knee that he hurt in high school.
In the offseason, Rodgers adjusted his diet. The two-time MVP, who turns 33 in December, said in June that he was at his lowest weight since his second year in the league in 2007.
To McCarthy, Rodgers seems refreshed and rejuvenated.
"I would say Aaron’s vibe, and really his offseason participation and performance looks to line up for a great year," McCarthy said.
It’s starting a little earlier than usual, too.
Preseason is a little longer this year because the Packers will play in the Hall of Fame Game against Indianapolis in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 7. Green Bay has five preseason games instead of four.
The first practice is Tuesday, meaning players will have barely digested the playbook by the time the Packers kick off against the Colts. The Packers also have more night practices.
There’s more time to prepare, and yet it seems that the Packers need to pick up the pace too, especially with starting to learn the playbook.
"So we’ll start that tonight, foot on the gas and get that done," McCarthy said.
What McCarthy didn’t have on Monday morning was an injury report, particularly on receiver Jordy Nelson. He’s coming back from a torn right ACL that sidelined him for the entire 2015 season, and coaches raved about Nelson’s work ethic and rehab habits in the offseason.
In Rodgers, Nelson and about 13 more players, the Packers have a group of veterans with at least six years of experience that is expected to set the tone for a team with Super Bowl hopes.
"So I think the leadership, the veteran experienced group is a very, very good one. It could end up being one of our best ones," McCarthy said.
And of those players, no one is more important than Rodgers. He was as meticulous in his offseason preparation as ever.
"You want to fit it all together and get it repped as an offense, so that process was very smooth," McCarthy said. "I would say he’s ready to go."
NOTES: McCarthy didn’t seem worried when asked about the NFL’s plan to interview defensive stars Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers about a media report that linked them to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. "I have no reason to be concerned based on the conversations I’ve been a part of," he said. … The first padded workout is scheduled for Thursday, the third practice of camp.