NFL Wire News

Rodgers ready for action with Packers’ experienced offense


The Sports Xchange

DE PERE, Wis. — Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley described the occasion as “just another day for that guy.”

That guy, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, begged to differ with his young teammate when addressing the significance of the first practice day of training camp on Thursday.

In his 11th season and his first as a two-time NFL MVP, Rodgers showed up at the team’s heavily attended practice facility in Green Bay already in a game-ready frame of mind.

“I think that’s part of your job as the quarterback — you have to bring energy at practice, the enthusiasm,” Rodgers said. “It’s fun being with some of the younger guys, trying to get on the same page with them, but the older guys as well.”

Surrounded by his entire starting cast from last season’s potent offense, with the exception of absent tight end Andrew Quarless, Rodgers alluded to an enhanced tenor for this preseason.

The Packers have been installed as early favorites to win the NFC title and play in Super Bowl 50 in February, a year after their late-game meltdown in the NFC Championship overtime loss to the Seahawks in Seattle.

As the schematic installations done in the spring workouts are reintroduced to the team the first week of camp, Rodgers has his own high expectations for an experienced team that had little turnover in the offseason.

“It doesn’t feel like there needs to be a lot of change,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got the team that we want.”

With that, he noted how the focus in meetings and what is taken to the practice field has shifted to the team’s older players, “so the younger guys are expected to keep up.”

“We know how close we were last year, and we know how difficult it is to get to that point, and it’s about playing the right way and giving yourself as many opportunities as possible,” Rodgers added.

And, coming off a second straight year of not getting through a full season without a painful setback, Rodgers realizes staying healthy is going to be paramount for the title-hungry Packers.

Opening day of camp, however, yielded a mixed bag of news on the health front.

The throng of green-and-gold fans who showed up early in the morning to get in line for good seats rejoiced that Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson was cleared for full participation. Nelson missed most of the offseason work as he recovered from hip surgery done shortly after last season.

“I think we’re going to obviously progress and not do anything ridiculous,” Nelson said. “We’ve got a long camp. Our goal is our first (regular-season) game in Chicago (on Sept. 13). That’s where we want to be.

“I want to be out there. Missing the offseason is not good for me. I want to get out there and run some routes, get back into the groove of things and get back that chemistry with Aaron. We’ll be out there as much as possible (in camp). It shouldn’t be any different than any other year.”

The Packers also had Casey Hayward ready for Day 1 in his bid to replace departed veteran Tramon Williams as the starter opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Sam Shields. Hayward was relegated to the sideline for the bulk of the spring because of a foot injury.

Green Bay’s replenished depth at cornerback is curtailed at the outset of camp, however.

Quinten Rollins, the team’s second-round draft pick this year, suffered an injury to his right hamstring in a conditioning workout a couple weeks ago. Rollins, a converted basketball player who is looking to contend for playing time right away with top draft pick Damarious Randall, is out indefinitely.

“Whenever they (trainers) feel like I’m ready to go, then that’s when I’ll be ready to go,” Rollins said. “At the same time, if I go out there and mess it up even more than what it is now, then there’s nothing to fight for because I’m going to be sidelined for good.”

The Packers also had second-year receiver Jared Abbrederis drop out late in practice Thursday.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Abbrederis took a hard fall on a pass intended for him that was intercepted.

“I’m not quite sure what they’re looking at,” McCarthy said of the medical staff’s initial evaluation. “So, I don’t know if it’s a tailbone or what it is.”

McCarthy expressed optimism that Abbrederis didn’t reinjure his surgically repaired knee. Last year’s fifth-round draft pick out of Wisconsin missed the 2014 season because of a torn ACL sustained early in training camp.

Meanwhile, McCarthy hinted Quarless could be away from the team for an extended period.

McCarthy said Quarless is “dealing with a very difficult, extremely difficult family situation right now. So, he’s with his family, and he’ll be gone as long as he needs to be.”

McCarthy didn’t elaborate on the matter. Quarless was arrested in Miami during Fourth of July weekend on a first-degree misdemeanor charge for firing a gun in public during an alleged argument with a group of women outside a parking garage.

Quarless’ legal case is pending, and he faces disciplinary action from the NFL.

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