Packers vs Vikings: Grades

A rarity happened for the second week in a row in the NFL, a tie. Week 1 it was the Browns and Steelers, and this week it’s the Packers and Vikings. Here’s how Green Bay’s offense, defense, and special teams graded out in the 29-29 tie against the Minnesota Vikings.

Offense: B-

When a team puts up nearly 30 points, typically a grade higher than this week’s “B-“ is given. However, Green Bay attempted six field goals on the day and Mason Crosby connected on five of them, but the reality is that an offense led by Aaron Rodgers shouldn’t be settling for three points that often.

Rodgers’ knee was an issue, no question. The signal-caller wasn’t as mobile as he normally is, and it seems as if this is going to be an issue for the foreseeable future with the Packers. Despite the knee issue, he still had a fine game, throwing for 281 yards and a score. Rodgers spread the ball around well, as Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, Davante Adams, and Jimmy Graham all finished the game with four or more catches.

The running game was average as well. After getting off to a fast start rushing the ball, Green Bay finished with only 101 yards rushing on the day.

Defense: D+

There are several places this could begin. Allowing Kirk Cousins to torch the secondary, Clay Matthews’ questionable roughing the passer penalty that kept the Vikings alive, or the inability to contain either Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen.

Cousins was fantastic for Minnesota as he finished with 425 yards passing and four touchdowns compared to one interception. He led the Vikings back from down 29-21 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to tie the game up. That touchdown to Thielen was a thing of beauty as he placed the ball in an incredibly small window for the score. The 2-point conversion was an easy throw to Diggs who ran a terrific route to shake free in the back corner of the end zone. He may not be worth every penny he signed for this offseason, but he proved he can be a franchise quarterback.

The penalty on Matthews gave Minnesota new life on the game-tying drive. Cousins was intercepted deep down the field on a play that would have likely put the nail in Minnesota’s coffin, but Matthews was flagged for roughing the passer – for the second week in a row – to extend the game.

Last week’s call against Matthews was a blatant one and a correct one, this one was a bit of a gray area. Matthews was flagged for driving Cousins into the turf with his body weight. Plenty of Packers fans are going to be mad about the call, but by the letter of the rule book there’s reason to call it. And remember, this rule probably isn’t in place if Rodgers doesn’t get hurt on a similar play against Minnesota last season.

Special Teams: B+

This group saw extreme positives – a blocked punt for a touchdown, a 51.8-yard average for J.K. Scott – and some extreme negatives – Crosby’s missed would-have-been-game-winner, allowing a 37-yard average on kickoff returns – in the tie.

Teams typically don’t lose games in which they block a kick of some sort, and technically the Packers didn’t lose on Sunday even though it may feel like it. That play was huge, especially on a day when the offense isn’t operating at 100pecent due to the health of Rodgers. Scott was excellent, too for the Packers. The only mistake he had was the touchback in the overtime period. Had Minnesota had to operate from deep inside its own territory things may have turned out differently. That seems nitpicky, though.

Crosby was great for the Packers – connecting on his first five field goal attempts – until he wasn’t. After his make from 52 yards out was wiped out due to a timeout just prior to the snap by Minnesota, he missed the second try that would have won the game. It’s hard to look past that. The loss certainly isn’t on Crosby, by any stretch, but the Packers would be feeling much better had he made that attempt from 52 yards out.

Fun Fact: A

According to Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first game in NFL history to finish in a 29-29 tie.

Packers still unsure if Aaron Rodgers will play Sunday

Aaron Rodgers’ status for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings remains up in the air.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Friday morning that the Green Bay Packers quarterback is continuing to go through the rehab process for a knee injury suffered last Sunday against Chicago.

“Aaron’s getting better,” McCarthy told reporters. “I would say he feels better than he did at the beginning of the week. (Saturday’s) practice will be a pretty big indicator [on if he’ll play].”

Unlike most NFL teams, the Packers take Friday off from practice and hold a practice on Saturday instead. That will allow Rodgers an extra day of rehab before giving him one final chance to do something on the practice field.

“He can play with no reps. We’ve established that point some time ago in his career,” McCarthy said. “You’d like to walk off the field Saturday and have your plan set, but this is the National Football League. Things happen.”

With Rodgers not practicing this week, DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle have split the reps. Kizer would get the start if Rodgers does not play.

Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams miss practice with injuries

Aaron Rodgers wants to play Sunday against Minnesota, but it remains unclear if he’ll be allowed to.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback was one of three players not to practice at all Wednesday as he deals with a left knee injury that he labeled a sprain. Rodgers was injured in the first half of the season opener against Chicago and was eventually taken by a cart back to the locker room. When the team came back out for the second half, though, he was with them. His return sparked an epic comeback that saw Green Bay erase a 20-0 deficit and win 24-23.

“A lot of adrenaline Sunday night,” Rodgers said when asked how he made it through the game. “Then, obviously, pretty sore the last three days.”

Rodgers didn’t even come down to the practice field on Wednesday, instead staying up at the stadium to receive treatment.

“I’m feeling a little better,” Rodgers said. “Feeling a little better every day — Monday, Tuesday and now [Wednesday].”

This is not the first time Rodgers has dealt with an injury to the knee. He tore the ACL in the knee at age 16 and didn’t actually get it fixed until college. He then had a procedure to clean it up following the 2015 season.

“I know what it feels like to play with something like this,” Rodgers said. “Hopefully I’ll be at a point where I can on Sunday.”

The quarterback wasn’t the only star to miss practice. Wide receiver Davante Adams was held out with a shoulder injury suffered against Chicago. He told reporters that as long as he tackles his treatment throughout the week, he should be good to go against Minnesota.

Packers still gathering information on Aaron Rodgers’ knee injury

Aaron Rodgers said Sunday that he would play against Minnesota in Week 2 despite a knee injury he suffered against Chicago. On Monday, head coach Mike McCarthy pumped the brakes on that idea.

“We’re still collecting all the information on his specific situation,” McCarthy said. “I know Aaron wants to play and is always driven to play, but that’s all I have right now.”

Pressed further about Rodgers’ availability, McCarthy reiterated his point.

“We do have some information and no decision has been made,” McCarthy said. “We’re still collecting all the information.”

Rodgers suffered the knee injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s game and was eventually taken by cart back to the locker room. After some additional testing, he was cleared to play. Despite clearly being in pain and limited in how he could move, Rodgers helped the Packers erase a 20-point deficit in what turned into a 24-23 victory.

In his career, Rodgers has missed one game due to a concussion and a total of 16 games when he broke his collarbone in 2013 and 2017. But he’s played through lower body injuries, including a calf injury that severely limited his ability to move in 2014.

“The requirement to play the position is obviously very difficult,” McCarthy said. “He’s extraordinary in that case to be able to play through certain things. But obviously everything we do moving through the week, we’ll definitely look at all the variables.”

Packers 24, Bears 23: What we saw

GREEN BAY — Fueled by an injured Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers (1-0) erased a 20-0 deficit to beat the Chicago Bears (0-1) 24-23 on Sunday night at Lambeau Field in the season opener for both teams.

Here’s what we saw:

The scoreboard at halftime had the Bears leading 17-0, but in Aaron Rodgers’ mind the Packers had already won. Never mind that 30 minutes earlier the quarterback was leaving the field on cart after suffering a knee injury.

“Walking out [before] the second half,” Rodgers said when asked when he knew they were going to win. “When I got the ovation [from the crowd], at that point I said, ‘We might as well win this thing.’”

Hobbled and playing out of the pistol and shotgun for almost the entire second half, all Rodgers did was lead scoring drives on the first four possessions, going 17 of 23 for 273 yards and three touchdowns. It included what proved to be the game-winner to Randall Cobb with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter.

Rodgers’ effort is one few will forget, including the man himself.

“This is what we’re paid to do. We’re paid to deal with injuries and play through them. That’s what everybody is doing and will be doing throughout this season,” Rodgers said. “That’s a measure of a teammate. It’s what are you willing to put on the line for your team. To me, it’s a no brainer. Being out there is special.

“This will definitely go down as one of my favorite memories, especially in this rivalry.”

Green Bay had no business winning the game. Chicago outplayed them and had a three-score lead midway through the third quarter. But Rodgers is the ultimate field tilter. The entire feel of the game changed when he jogged out for the second half and it seemed almost as if the Bears knew there was no stopping it. That it was just a matter of time before he ripped their hearts out and it’s exactly what he did. Rodgers, even on one healthy leg, proved once again that he’s the best quarterback in the league and one of the best to ever do it.

2) Rodgers played at a high level in the second half and his wide receivers matched him. Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison and Cobb all made plays in clutch situations.

Four of Allison’s five catches came on the first touchdown drive, including a brilliant grab for a 39-yard score on a dime from Rodgers. It was Adams’ turn on the next possession, breaking free for a 51-yard catch and run before hauling in a 12-yard touchdown in which he broke the cornerback’s ankles with a juke. And finally, it was Cobb, who turned a short 10-yard pass into a 75-yard touchdown for the win.

There has been plenty of talk about the wide receiver group this offseason, with many wondering if — perhaps some hoping — Cobb would be released. Instead, the trio, with Rodgers pulling the strings, abused the Bears in the second half. They’ll face a tougher matchup next week against Minnesota, but the early returns on the top three guys is encouraging.

3) Green Bay’s first defensive possession had some jokingly calling for Dom Capers to return. But after that opening drive in which the Bears went 86 yards in 10 plays and scored a touchdown, new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s unit did its job. They were only responsible for 16 of the points the Bears scored and continually got the ball back in Rodgers’ hands, doing their part in the comeback.

“They have gotten a bad rap at times, but I thought they played really well tonight,” Rodgers said. “Gave up 16 points. You should win games when the defense gives up 16 points in this league.”

Two of the biggest plays came in the fourth quarter and both on the third down. Helped by some questionable play calls by Chicago, the Bears tried to pass on third-and-short and Green Bay held them to no gain on the first and got an incompletion on the other. Both stops made the comeback possible.

“We have to be able to stop people from scoring and we were able to do that down the stretch,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “Started off a little shaky at the beginning, but we settled down and made the plays we needed to make to get off the field.”

4) Khalil Mack was worth the two first round picks the Bears gave up for him and you could make the argument he was worth so much more. Despite not playing in the preseason and getting traded from Oakland to Chicago last weekend, Mack was an absolute nightmare for the Packers in the first half. He had a sack, a forced fumble and an interception that he returned for a touchdown.

Green Bay could not block Mack, especially when it left Bryan Bulaga in one-on-one situations. Whether they paid more attention to him in the second half, he wore down or they just played better, he was much less effective for Chicago after the break. Still, he’s everything the Bears possibly could have hoped for and is going to be a thorn in the Packers side for a long time to come.

What the numbers say:

— According to Elias Stats, this is the first time the Packers have won a game when trailing by 17 or more points in the fourth quarter.

— Randall Cobb’s 142 yards receiving were the most of his career, topping his previous best of 131 against Tampa Bay in 2014.

— Rodgers passer rating of 130.7 was his best since Dec. 11, 2016 against Seattle. It’s Rodgers 81st passer rating of 100 or more in his career

Bears’ DE: ‘I know those five (OL) can’t block Khalil Mack’

If Sunday’s season opener between Green Bay and Chicago needed a little extra life, Bears defensive end Akeem Hicks gave it some.

Just days after adding two-time All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack to the defensive line, Hicks was speaking with the Wisconsin media on a conference call. With Mack apparently sitting right next to him, Hicks was asked about the Packers offensive line and what he knew about the five guys that will line up against Chicago on Sunday night.

“I know those five can’t block Khalil Mack,” Hicks said flatly.

Mack arrived in Chicago on Sunday and it appears likely he will be in uniform when they come to Lambeau Field.

While Mack is among the best pass rushers in the NFL, the Packers have one of the best left tackles in the league in David Bakhtiari. Unfortunately for Green Bay, Mack will likely line up at left end and that means facing off against right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who is coming off tearing his ACL last November and played just two series this preseason. Asked if the Bears would target the perceived weak link, Hicks once again

“I think it affects guys when they come back from an injury, especially older guys like Bulaga,” Hick said. “But I don’t think he had a chance to block Khalil Mack anyway.”

Green Bay Packers trim roster on cutdown day

By Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. the Green Bay Packers had to trim their roster from 90 men down to 53. That meant 37 players were shown the door on Saturday by general manager Brian Gutekunst.

Naturally, there were some moves made that were expected, and others were more of a surprise to see.

Here are the players that the Packers cut ties with prior to the 3 p.m. deadline:

Defense
DL Tyler Lancaster
DL James Looney
DL Conor Sheehy
DL Joey Mbu
OLB Vince Biegel
OLB Kendall Donnerson
OLB Marcus Porter
OLB Chris Odom
LB Greer Martini
LB James Hearns
LB Naashon Hughes
LB Ahmad Thomas
CB Josh Hawkins
CB Demetri Goodson
CB Donatello Brown
S Marwin Evans

Offense
FB Aaron Ripkowski
RB Bronson Hill
RB Joel Bouagnon
RB Joe Kerridge
RB LeShun Daniels
WR DeAngelo Yancey
WR Kyle Lewis
WR Adonis Jennings
TE Ryan Sith
TE Kevin Rader
TE Emanuel Byrd
OL Adam Pankey
OL Austin Davis
OL Dillon Day
OL Kofi Amichia

Specialists
LS Zach Triner

The team also placed offensive lineman Kyle Murphy, Quinten Rollins and Devante Mays on injured reserve. Running back Aaron Jones has been placed on the reserve/suspended list as well.

Green Bay’s full 53-man roster can be found here.

Kansas City tops the Packers 33-21 in the preseason finale

The Green Bay Packers closed out the preseason with a 33-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

With a healthy number of veterans staying home, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, left tackle David Bakhtiari and wide receiver Davonte Adams, the night served as one last opportunity for players on the roster bubble to make an impression.

Here are some of the guys that stood out.

QB DeShone Kizer

Save for an overthrow that resulted in an interception, Kizer was solid in his first action since the club traded his main competition for the backup job, Brett Hundley, to the Seattle Seahawks. He went 5 of 7 for 57 yards on his two drives and his night came to a close when he found a wide-open Geronimo Allison for a 31-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1 to give Green Bay the lead.

Kizer certainly has the physical traits to be a very good quarterback in the NFL, but he’s not there right now. He wasn’t better than Hundley in the preseason and he certainly can’t be seen as an upgrade. All of that suggests that if Rodgers were to miss an extended amount of time like he did a year ago, the Packers are setting themselves up to suffer the same playoff-less fate.

RB Aaron Jones

Green Bay is going to get a very nice addition in Week 3. That’s when Jones is eligible to return after being suspended for the first two games. The second-year back got 12 touches on Thursday night that he turned into 55 yards and a touchdown. The numbers don’t do justice to the intensity and conviction he ran with, routinely bouncing off defenders and finding a way to pick up yards even when the holes weren’t there.

Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery will hold things down in the backfield until Jones returns on Sept. 23 against Washington. Once back, the Packers will need to get him involved as soon as possible, as it appears he’s got the highest upside of anyone in their backfield.

TE Robert Tonyan

For the first time in a while, the Packers tight end room is packed. With Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis and Lance Kendricks, Green Bay has three proven veterans. But it’s hard to overlook what Tonyan has done in training camp and in the preseason. On Thursday, he caught all four balls thrown his way for 31 yards and scored his second touchdown of the preseason.

His chance at a roster spot seems largely dependent on how general manager Brian Gutekunst and coach Mike McCarthy view Kendricks. Signed in free agency in March of 2017, the former Wisconsin standout had 18 catches for 203 and a touchdown last season. But he didn’t have a great camp, struggling to catch the ball consistently. It’s possible he could be expendable if the Packers don’t think they could sneak Tonyan on the practice squad.

Packers, Rodgers agree on contract extension

After months of rumors and speculation, the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have finally agreed to terms on a contract.

The news was first reported by ESPN as the two sides were close on the extension.

Early Wednesday afternoon NFL Network reported that the two sides had agree to a deal. Former Packers wide receiver James Jones was the first to report a dollar figure.

Later, NFL Network had the exact details of the new contract for the franchise quarterback.

Rodgers took to Instagram late Wednesday afternoon to address the news.

“It’s been an amazing ride the last 13 years; excited to start year 14 knowing that my future is here, in Green Bay, for our 100th season. I’ve grown up in this place, and grown older and a little wiser along the way. Thank you to our incredible fan base for inspiring us players to be better year after year. Thank you to the Packers organization for standing by me time and time again and giving me the opportunity to lead this football team. And thank you to my teammates along the way, past and present who have impacted my life in so many positive ways, giving me friendships for life. Looking forward to making some more memorable moments this year, and for years to come….”

After missing much of the 2017 season due to a broken collarbone, Rodgers has played in one preseason game for the Packers this year. Rodgers will likely sit the team’s fourth and final preseason game on Thursday night in Kansas City but will be ready to begin the season on Sept. 9 against the Chicago Bears.

Packers trade QB Brett Hundley

The Green Bay Packers are moving on from Brett Hundley.

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and Adam Shefter, the team traded the former fifth-round pick to Seattle. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted the Packers got a sixth-round pick in return.

The move means DeShone Kizer will serve as the primary backup to Aaron Rodgers this season. Demovsky also reported the team plans to keep undrafted rookie Tim Boyle on the 53-man roster as well.

Hundley’s time in Green Bay was a bit of a rollercoaster, as he played well in the preseason as a rookie, was injured during camp in his second year, showed promise in the preseason last season only to struggle mightily when Rodgers went down in October with a broken collarbone.

In his nine starts last season, Hundley threw nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 60.8 percent of his passes. The Packers were just 3-6 in the games he was under center and his passer rating was 70.6.

Hundley was solid this preseason, throwing for 263 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for a score.

But Kizer has also looked serviceable this summer. Acquired via trade with the Cleveland Browns this offseason, Kizer has thrown for 403 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions this preseason. Still, going with him as the backup is a bit of gamble after he struggled in his rookie year, going 0-15 as the starter and throwing twice as many interceptions (22) than touchdowns (11) with Cleveland.

Green Bay will close out the preseason on Thursday at Kansas City.