NFL: Rodgers' shoulder feeling better after bye
By CHRIS JENKINS
AP Sports Writer
By CHRIS JENKINS
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Getting a week's worth of rest certainly helped Aaron Rodgers, but the bye week wasn't a miracle cure for his sprained right shoulder.
Rodgers threw a few deep balls in the portion of Green Bay Packers practice that was open to the media Wednesday, something he hasn't done very much since spraining his shoulder a month ago. Afterward, Rodgers said the injury felt "a little better" — but didn't proclaim it fully healed.
"It was great timing, it was," Rodgers said of last week's bye. "Not just for myself, but I think we're going to get some other guys back this week. So it was a good break. Not long enough, though."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers was on a "pitch count" to limit his throws Wednesday, and would likely practice under the same limitations Thursday. McCarthy said Rodgers took most of the snaps when the Packers were practicing running plays but wouldn't say specifically how many passes he threw.
Still, McCarthy said the bye week definitely helped Rodgers.
"I think he's at the point where the strength's not an issue, everything from a structure standpoint's not an issue," McCarthy said. "It just needs rest, that's what (team doctor Pat) McKenzie keeps telling us. So as much rest as we can give him, the better, just so it doesn't flare up on him."
McCarthy said Rodgers could sit out Friday's practice, depending on how his shoulder looks to doctors that morning.
Rodgers, a bystander in practice for most of the past month, said he's happy to be back. But he's looking forward to the day when he doesn't have to worry about things like pitch counts and rehabilitation exercises.
"It is progress," Rodgers said. "It just shows it's feeling better. Hopefully, we can do away with that at some point this season and have no restrictions."
Rodgers didn't want to speculate whether the injury would nag him for the foreseeable future.
"I'm going to play this week, and that's all I'm saying about that," Rodgers said. "I'm feeling better."
Rodgers has played three straight games since hurting his shoulder in the Packers' Sept. 28 loss at Tampa Bay — and played well despite limited practice time during the week and obvious pain during games.
For the season, Rodgers has a completion percentage of 65.6 with 12 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He'll need to continue avoiding mistakes going into the Packers' biggest test yet this season, a game at 7-0 Tennessee on Sunday.
Titans veteran quarterback Kerry Collins is impressed with the way Rodgers has handled his first season as a starter, beginning with the Brett Favre unretirement controversy in training camp.
"He looks like he's throwing the ball great, really making good decisions and putting the ball in good, tight places," Collins said. "He's really throwing very accurately, I think. I thought he handled everything that went on this summer and the whole year, I thought he handled it great. Just from an outsider's standpoint, I don't think he could've handled it any better. And obviously he's playing really well. He's making a lot of throws, he's making good decisions, and it looks like he's really playing at a high level."
After watching the Titans beat Indianapolis on Monday night, Rodgers knows he'll have to be careful against a fierce defense.
"They're a team that thrives on turnovers," Rodgers said. "Watching the game Monday, they forced some turnovers and turned them into points. That's the key for us — as it always is, no matter who we're playing — we've got to limit our turnovers. Personally, I've got to make a good decision with the ball. And hopefully, we'll be able to run the ball, which will put us into manageable third downs."
Rodgers has been particularly good in third-down situations this season, carrying a league-best 120.3 quarterback rating and throwing nine of his 12 touchdowns on third down.
"It's an emphasis for us," Rodgers said. "It's a combination of a good scheme, good plan, good mind-set, being smart with the ball and the number of playmakers we've got on offense. I'm just trying to get them the ball, and they've been making some good plays on third down."
Rodgers' first season as a starter has been a success so far — and apparently, it runs in the family.
Rodgers went home to California over the weekend, where he watched his brother, Jordan, play quarterback for Butte College — the same junior college Rodgers played for before he transferred to California.
Did he offer up any tips?
"He doesn't need any," Rodgers said.