If this doesn’t fully explain Aaron Rodgers’s (relative) struggles this season, it sure goes a hell of a lot further than hypotheticals about his girlfriend. Rodgers appeared on the injury report for the first time this week with an unspecified injury to his right shoulder, and since there was no obvious play that caused it on Sunday, it’s plausible that he’s been dealing with it for a while.
Rodgers has been perfectly fine by any standards but his own; he’s on pace to put up career-low marks in completion percentage, yards per game, and yards per attempt. Missing Jordy Nelson is a big deal, and the run game isn’t taking its usual pressure off the QB, and if consecutive losses to elite NFL defenses Denver and Carolina are understandable, Sunday’s loss to the Lions is baffling.
Rodgers was hurt in that game, coming up limping after a hit to his left knee. but to everyone’s surprise, it’s not Rodgers’s knee that appeared on Wednesday’s injury report—it’s his right, throwing shoulder, and he was officially limited in practice. He wouldn’t say how long the shoulder has been bothering him, but concurred with coach Mike McCarthy’s description of him as “banged up.”
“But we all are at this time,” Rodgers said. “It’s Week 11 coming up, everybody is dealing with different things. That’s the NFL. You get a routine, learn how to take care of your body and push through things.”
Undoubtedly true—it’s tough to make it this deep into a season without being bruised and damaged. But these things pile on; Andrew Luck was also “banged up.”
Not helping matters is that the Packers’ offensive line hasn’t been protecting Rodgers as well as it has in the past, or even earlier this season. He’s been sacked 11 times in the last three games, after taking 11 sacks in the first six. This week, four of five starting linemen are on the injury list, including left guard Josh Sitton, who could be talking about himself, or Rodgers, or just about any NFL player here:
“It’s a fine line. You don’t want to talk about your injuries because that could be an advantage to your opponent. And you want to play through injuries because you have pride and you don’t want to let your team down,” said Sitton. “As a player, it’s a Catch-22 with admitting it and not. Sometimes you go out there and you might underperform because of an injury. And then you still don’t admit it.”
We’ll never know how bad Rodgers has it until it becomes untenably bad, or until the season’s over. McCarthy was asked if he was concerned Rodgers’s shoulder could potentially jeopardize his status against the Vikings this weekend; McCarthy merely said “no concern.” Rodgers will play. How well he’ll throw, and how much pain he’ll be in, are questions that we haven’t traditionally had to ask.