GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers opened training camp Thursday, but the biggest story was once again the contract of Aaron Rodgers. Or, perhaps more accurately, the lack of a new contract for the two-time MVP quarterback.
“[The Packers] talked about it enough that there’s an expectation that something would have been done. Obviously, judging by the questions here, there’s kind of an expectation that something would have been done before we started. I’m just trusting [my agent] Dave [Dunn],” Rodgers said following the first practice of camp. “They’re taking care of those conversations, and I’m focused on this team and being a leader.”
Rodgers has two years left on his contract that will see him make $42 million over that period. His average of $22 million per year over the life of his current deal leaves the 34-year-old 10th among starting quarterbacks. That kind of thing would keep some players away from training camp, upset that the team wouldn’t rectify an obvious slight.
“I don’t really operate like that,” Rodgers said. “There [isn’t] any animosity on either side.”
Whenever Rodgers does sign an extension, it’s going to make him the highest-paid player in NFL history. But it’s how long he’ll remain atop that list and how the contract will be structured that is likely holding things up.
“My contract is all about me and my tenure here. But, as we know, this league is about comparison to other contracts and that’s often how the negotiations go and have gone. When I signed my last deal, there was an amount of time before it got passed up…It’s just the way it goes,” Rodgers said. “[My contract is] important to me, but my focus is on this team and training camp.”
Catch or interception?
One of the first plays of the camp also served as the first controversy. During 11-on-11 drills, Rodgers tried to hit wide receiver Randall Cobb about 15 yards downfield, but cornerback Kevin King had tight coverage. The two battled for the ball, and to those watching on the sideline, it seemed like King came up with the interception, though it was pretty much a coin flip.
In asking Rodgers about it, a reporter compared the play to the “Fail Mary” in Seattle in 2012, where the Seahawks got a game-winning touchdown when officials determined Golden Tate had possession of the ball despite Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings having it pinned against his chest.
“It wasn’t even close. That’s a terrible reference,” Rodgers said. “Silly, silly question.
“But how did Kevin do? Kevin made a couple plays, but that was a completion…”
Get used to the visor
Clay Matthews’ nose looks in good shape despite him getting hit in the face with a softball last month. The outside linebacker spoke with reporters Thursday for the first time since suffering the injury.
“Took about a week off, obviously, to let the thing heal up and then kind of eased back into it,” Matthews said. “Everything feels pretty good now, so [I’ll] be smart about it. Obviously, I’m wearing a visor so I don’t get poked.”
Matthews has not worn a visor before, but he anticipates keeping it the entire season.
“Speaking with the surgeon that operated on [me], I guess rhinoplasty normally takes several months to really feel like you can kind of throw it around there and not have a lot of hesitation,” Matthews said. “It feels good, though. I really don’t have any limitations.”
Entering his 10th year, Matthews is also coming off knee surgery. Coach Mike McCarthy said they’ll be smart with the veteran’s reps in training camp.
Bryan Bulaga feeling good
The last time most fans saw Bryan Bulaga he was being carted to the locker room last November after tearing the ACL in his right knee. It ended his season and some thought it would potentially end his time with Green Bay. But there he was on Thursday working with a trainer at the south end of the practice field, continuing his rehab while starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
“Bryan has really, from early in the rehab, been ahead of the game,” McCarthy said. “I have confidence in Bryan…that [being on the PUP] will not threaten the beginning of the season.”
Bulaga agreed with McCarthy’s assessment.
“I’m optimistic about it, yeah,” Bulaga said of being ready for Week 1. “I felt like everything’s gone really well so far, month-to-month, week-to-week, kind of deal. Yeah, I’m disappointed I started on [PUP]. It’s been a tough road rehabbing and getting back to this point. I’m feeling really well at this point. Yeah, I’m disappointed but it’s part of the process.”
Without Bulaga in the lineup, third-year offensive lineman Jason Spriggs was with the first-team offense at right tackle.