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NFL AM: Aaron Rodgers Limited With Shoulder

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Aaron Rodgers limited with shoulder injury:

Just in case Green Bay Packers fans weren’t concerned enough with the team’s three-game losing streak, now comes word that Aaron Rodgers was limited at practice Wednesday with a right shoulder injury.

The Packers, who have scored just 55 points over consecutive losses to the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, and Detroit Lions, will head to Minnesota to take on the first place Vikings.

While being slowed by a very good Denver defense, and losing to an undefeated Panthers team weren’t shocking, the team’s 18-16 loss to the Lions was eye opening and concerning for Packers fans and for the seemingly million analysts (raising hand) who picked them to go to the Super Bowl.

There seems to be little concern about Rodgers actually missing the game due to his shoulder. Both Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy downplayed the injury Wednesday, and the reigning MVP seemed much more concerned with his performance in the red zone than with the shoulder that would see him popping up on the team’s first injury report of the week.

“I’m just going to keep playing the way I’m playing. Hopefully I’ll be a little more efficient this week and sustain drives (and) score touchdowns in the red zone,” said Rodgers.

Rodgers will need to be healthy and efficient when the team takes on a Vikings team that is even exceeding the expectations of many who believe the team was heading in the right direction. While many could see the development of Teddy Bridgewater, or the overwhelming amount of underrated talent on the defensive side of the ball, there weren’t many predicting the Vikings would hang around with the Packers in the NFC North. It’s certainly unlikely that many believed Minnesota would head into their Week 11 match-up with Green Bay holding a one-game lead in the NFC North.

This is really a big game for both teams. The Packers can’t afford to lose four games in a row and allow Minnesota to take a two-game lead in the division, and they absolutely can’t afford Rodgers shoulder to worsen. It’s likely the Packers and their annual MVP candidate could overcome a loss to Minnesota on Sunday, but it would be absolutely impossible for the team to overcome a loss of Rodgers.

Texans claim Brandon Weeden as likely back up with Hoyer concussed:

Brian Hoyer was forced out of the Houston Texans upset victory over the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night with a concussion, and it’s unlikely the Texans starter will be able to go when the team tries to hold onto a first place tie with the Indianapolis Colts atop the AFC South when they square off against the New York Jets Sunday.

T.J. Yates replaced Hoyer Monday night, ultimately throwing a game-winning touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins. This Sunday Yates will likely make his first start since 2012.

With Hoyer likely out with a concussion, the Texans claimed Brandon Weeden, who had been waived by the Dallas Cowboys to back up Yates. Weeden hasn’t been very good in offenses he’s been familiar with, so it’s unlikely he’d bring much to the table just days after being claimed by Houston.

While Houston needs someone to back up Yates while Hoyer deals with his concussion, it’s also possible they claimed Weeden to keep him away from the Indianapolis Colts, who are without Andrew Luck.

While it’s possible Indianapolis could have had some interest in Weeden, even the ancient Matt Hasselbeck and 10-year veteran Charlie Whitehurst are better options than Weeden, so if that was the Texans reason for making the claim, it’s unlikely they gained much of an upper hand in this situation.

Thursday night dud includes surprising story line:

There probably weren’t many NFL fans who gazed down at this week’s NFL schedule and were elated to find the 3-6 Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the 2-7 Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football.

However, what should likely be the top story line heading into the game is frankly a surprising one. When the Jaguars and Titans get down to business Thursday night, they’ll be playing to, get this, position themselves in the playoff race!

It sounds crazy. Typically if the word positioning was thrown around in a battle between 2-7 and 3-6 teams, the conversation would be revolving around draft position. At 3-6 and 2-7 the Jaguars and Titans are as likely to have a top-5 draft pick as they are to make the playoffs, if not more likely.

However, because the AFC South has wrestled the league’s worst division crown from the NFC South this year, both the Jags and Titans are in the mix to win the putrid division. At 3-6, the Jaguars are just a game behind the Texans and Colts, with the Titans falling in just two games out.

As unlikely as it is that either of these teams will win the AFC South, it’s actually possible that the pair could be playing for first place in the division when they meet again in just two weeks.

While some may not be thrilled with the match-up, there’s actually plenty to be interested in. With Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota, we get to see two quarterbacks drafted in the top-5 in each of the last two drafts.

We spent much of last year calling the Titans the most boring product in football, but their draft class changed that overnight. The Titans aren’t very good yet, but Mariota gives you a reason to want to watch.

The Jaguars have been very disappointing for the second straight season after entering the year with high expectations. If Bortles and his exciting young offense can find a way to help them climb back into the AFC South picture, that disappointment could quickly change into optimism for the future of the Jaguars and maybe even Gus Bradley.

As surprising as it may sound when you hunker down on the couch tonight for the Jags and Titans, don’t be surprised if you hear about the young signal callers trying to quarterback their teams to a division title. As unlikely as it is and crazy as it sounds, both of these teams have an opportunity in the turbulent AFC South.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.