Aaron Rodgers' status for Sunday unknown, but Vikings brace for the best
EAGAN, Minn. — Aaron Rodgers has no doubts about playing against the Vikings this week. His coach isn't as optimistic.
After the quarterback returned from a left knee injury Sunday night, Sept. 9, and brought Green Bay back from a 20-0 deficit in the second half to defeat Chicago 24-23 at Lambeau Field, Rodgers told NBC, "I'm playing next week."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy tapped the breaks Monday.
"We're still collecting all the information," McCarthy told reporters in Green Bay. "I know Aaron wants to play, and is always driven to play, but that's all I have for you right now."
So the waiting game will continue on whether Rodgers will start against the Vikings for the first time since Oct. 15, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Rodgers broke his collarbone in that game on a hit from linebacker Anthony Barr, and missed nine of the final 10 games of the season. That included sitting out a Week 16 loss to the Vikings at Lambeau Field.
With the Vikings returning to Lambeau Field on Sunday, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer shrugged off a question Monday on whether it is a challenge not knowing if Green Bay's quarterback will be Rodgers or backup DeShone Kizer.
Zimmer said he hadn't seen Rodgers' postgame declaration, cracking, "I don't have a TV, so I didn't watch it."
Zimmer soon came clean and said he watched a tape of the game. And, yes, he was impressed.
"It was remarkable," Zimmer said. "The guy is unbelievable. There aren't enough superlatives to say about this guy. He's amazing."
Rodgers' performance was the topic of conversation in the Vikings' locker room Monday. After Rodgers slipped on the Lambeau Field turf throwing a pass in the second quarter, Bears defensive end Roy Robertson fell on his leg and wrenched his knee. He was carted off the field and into the locker room.
But Rodgers returned for the second half with the Packers trailing 20-0, and threw three touchdown passes, including a 75-yarder to Randall Cobb that put Green Bay up 24-23 with 2:13 left.
"I was amazed, but at the same time I feel like that's what you get from Aaron Rodgers," Vikings receiver Adam Thielen said. "We've seen it for so many years. You never feel like that team's out of game when he's at quarterback. That's why they pay him the big bucks."
Rodgers recently signed a four-year, $134 million contract extension. If he does play Sunday, Thielen won't have to try to slow him down. But safety Jayron Kearse would have a role.
"When they got the ball back with like three minutes left (in the game), everybody in the house was like, 'Oh, he's definitely going to come back and get the W,'" Kearse said of watching the game on television. "He actually almost threw an interception and (Bears safety Kyle Fuller) dropped it, and immediately after that point it was like, 'Yeah, (the Bears are) going to lose. Trust me.' You can't give him a second chance at it."
Rodgers didn't have full mobility against the Bears, but Kearse said that didn't matter.
"He's just dangerous, period," Kearse said. "Any time he's on the field, it doesn't matter what he's doing, he's a dangerous quarterback. ... Just to see the difference with him being in and him not being in. It was 20-0, and as soon as he gets (back) in, it changes the whole entire game."
Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell, who grew up in the Chicago area, watched the game with his younger brother Darrell Kazee, a Bears fan. While Treadwell was watching primarily to scout the Packers, his brother was sulking.
"He was mad," Treadwell said. "But he was still, like, on that last Bears drive, 'They're going to get points.' But once (Chicago quarterback Mitch) Trubisky had the fumble (to end the drive), he was like, 'Oh, man.' He was upset.
"But that was Aaron Rodgers being Aaron Rodgers. I mean, we see it every year."