Green Bay QB Rodgers has broken collarbone
GREEN BAY, Wis. — A defeat to the Chicago Bears aside, the Green Bay Packers are faced with their biggest loss in years at the midpoint of their 2013 schedule.
All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers is expected to be out at least a few weeks because of what he confirmed on his weekly radio show on ESPN Wisconsin on Tuesday afternoon to be a broken collarbone.
“I’m in some pain,” said Rodgers, adding that a timetable for his return hasn’t been determined.
Rodgers sustained the injury when Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin sacked him from behind and Rodgers landed hard on his left, non-throwing shoulder only 2 1/2 minutes into the Bears’ 27-20 win at Lambeau Field on Monday night.
“I think we’ll know more as the week goes on, but I do have a fractured collarbone,” Rodgers said on the radio show. “That’s a significant injury. We’ll know more about the severity and the timetable later this week.
“We’re holding out hope that this will be a quick heal. But, it is a significant injury,” he added.
Rodgers, who said he won’t need surgery, didn’t return to Monday’s game as the heavily favored Packers had a four-game winning streak end.
“It’s tough, obviously,” left guard Josh Sitton said. “He’s the best player on this football team. He’s probably the best player in the NFL. So, it’s tough, yeah, no doubt. We’ve just got to keep grinding. We’ve been in these positions before, we’ve just got to keep playing — no excuses.”
Without Rodgers for most of Monday’s game, the Packers stumbled into a three-way tie with the Bears and the Detroit Lions for first place in the NFC North. All three teams are 5-3 at the midway point of their schedules.
While Chicago gets ready to host Detroit, the Packers will try to pick themselves up on a short week and prepare for a visit by the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Yet, getting ready to play again without their distinguished leader on offense is a tough pill to swallow after Green Bay appeared to be on the brink of not only repeating as division champion but also contend for the NFC title.
Getting to the Super Bowl for the first time in three years wasn’t a reach Sunday, but 24 hours later, there is plenty of room for debate.
The only other time Rodgers missed a game because of injury since he became Green Bay’s starter five years ago was in the Packers’ Super Bowl-winning 2010 season. He suffered a concussion in a loss at Detroit, then missed the next week’s game at New England, also a defeat with Matt Flynn as the fill-in.
“You don’t replace him,” wide receiver Jordy Nelson said of Rodgers. “You try to fill in as much as possible. If it was easier to replace someone of his caliber, there would be a lot more guys, a lot better quarterbacks in the league. Everyone’s just got to do their job and maybe just do it a little bit better.”
Yet, with next to little preparation by way of taking reps in practice last week, veteran replacement Seneca Wallace will have to get better in a hurry after his abysmal performance Monday.
Wallace completed only 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and interception for a woeful 53.4 efficiency rating. The Bears also sacked him four times, including on back-to-back plays to end the game after Green Bay reached its 40-yard line in a desperate attempt in the last minute to try to get a score-tying touchdown.
“I tried my best,” said Wallace, 33, whose last meaningful game action came as the starter for the Cleveland Browns in the 2011 regular-season finale. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure there’s not a letdown from what Aaron is doing and what I’m doing. But, obviously, it’s tough to get put in that situation and go out there and not have a lag.”
As it stands, Wallace will make the start against the Eagles. He’s the only other quarterback on the 53-man roster. Scott Tolzien has been on the practice squad since the start of the season.
“Seneca, he needs to perform better, and he’ll definitely do that with a week of practice,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “We need to do a better job in the passing game.”
The Packers remarkably had the lead a few times and were within striking distance of Chicago until the end because of a robust rushing attack. Led by rookie Eddie Lacy’s career-high 150 yards and a touchdown in 22 carries, Green Bay rushed for a season-high 199 yards.
“You can’t come in here and freak out and go crazy, and then all of a sudden everyone’s panicking,” Nelson said about losing Rodgers. “We have a great run game now, that’s something great that we’re able to rely on now, lean on, to where we haven’t had that in the past. We’ll continue to do that, and we expect Seneca to step up. I know Seneca does, too.”
Wallace is charged to run an offense that is without two playmakers — wide receiver Randall Cobb (broken leg) until at least mid-December and tight end Jermichael Finley (bruised spinal cord) for possibly the rest of the season — and also lost right guard T.J. Lang to a concussion in Monday’s game.
The Packers’ defense is hoping to get All-Pro Clay Matthews (broken thumb) and fellow starting outside linebacker Nick Perry (foot) back perhaps as early as this week after both have missed multiple games.