Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers and Scott Tolzien watch from the
sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game
against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in
Green Bay, Wis. The Eagles won 27-13.
GREEN BAY —
Aaron Rodgers is still out, opponents are stacking the box to stop
the run, and the third-place Packers are trying to reverse a
three-game losing streak.
Other players in
Green Bay are going to have step up — and soon — before the
predicament gets worse in the NFC North.
For now, Rodgers
can only watch as an unofficial but well-paid quarterbacks coach.
"This is why
football is a team sport, it's about the other 52 guys on the
active roster and guys picking up the slack," Rodgers said
Wednesday. "It's tough to be out there, obviously, because I
love playing. I'm just trying to help out as much as I can."
McCarthy has already made Scott Tolzien the starter for Sunday's
game against the Vikings. There's at least slightly more clarity
in determining when Rodgers, the 2011 NFL MVP, might be ready to
get back on the field after breaking his left collarbone Nov. 4
against the Bears.
Tuesday it remains a medical decision when Rodgers will return.
Rodgers is sticking to what he divulged Tuesday on his radio show,
that he's going to need to practice two days before a game in
order to play. That means if Rodgers is practicing Friday, there's
a chance he could play against the Vikings.
limited to zero participation today depending on what you consider
coaching tips, so just waiting the waiting game and see what
happens," Rodgers said at his first meeting with reporters at
his locker since the injury.
effect on the rest of the offense was evident in last week's 27-13
loss to the Giants. Running back Eddie Lacy was held to 14 carries
and 27 yards, though he did run for a 1-yard score. The running
game overall was held to a season-low 55 yards on 20 carries.
creeping closer to the line of scrimmage. Defenses are showing
more eight-man fronts. More and more, there's an unblocked
defender causing problems.
difficult to make a play work in situations like that, but my
mindset is just try to get anything that's positive and just make
sure I don't get tackled for like a loss of 1 or 2, because it can
put the offense in an even worse situation," Lacy said.
never-ending coaching chess match, it's up to McCarthy and his
assistants to respond. To their advantage, Tolzien — just a
practice squad player three weeks ago — has shown he can hit
And gearing up to
stop the run gives receivers such as Jordy Nelson more room to
make plays in single coverage. The Packers' top playmaker this
season (57 catches, 889 yards, 7 TDs) smiled at that notion.
"I mean it's
the way it's going to be," Nelson said. "I mean if I was
a defensive coordinator I'd be doing the same thing."
respond, the Packers better make it quick. At 5-5, they face a
critical two-game stretch against NFC North rivals: Minnesota on
Sunday before traveling to Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day game
four days later.
divisional games adds urgency as it is, but the even-keeled
Tolzien said he's not feeling any more pressure. For a former
third-string quarterback thrust into a starting job on one of the
NFL's marquee teams, Tolzien has played OK; he was 24 of 34 for
339 yards last week against the Giants.
interceptions helped kill the Packers' chances, including one on a
decision to throw across his body into the middle of the field.
game since the first game you ever played, there's good and bad.
But you always focus on what you can improve on first,"
Tolzien said. "Just like I said after the game, first and
foremost is taking care of the football. That's an area of
emphasis meeting with my coaches."
Note: WR Randall
Cobb, out since injuring his right leg Oct. 13 against Baltimore,
isn't using a Segway to get around anymore. He said he's doing
some "body weight stuff" as part of his rehab and hopes
to start jogging soon, but said there's no timeline on his
possible return. Cobb went on injured reserve with a designation
to return to practice after six weeks, and back into a game after
eight weeks, meaning the earliest he would be eligible to be back
is the Dec. 15 game at Dallas.
keep Ponder in place at quarterback
Minn. — Stop the music. The quarterback carousel in Minnesota
is staying put for another week. Christian Ponder will be the
starter at Green Bay.
Leslie Frazier announced his decision on Wednesday, and Ponder
made this sound like it wasn't much of a decision at all.
Frazier didn't seek him out to tell him he was keeping the job,
Ponder said. He just assumed the spot was still his.
was told otherwise," Ponder said.
appreciate coach Frazier having the confidence in me to be able
to go out this week and play," Ponder said.
was in question because of three more turnovers last weekend in
a 41-20 loss at Seattle. His lost fumble and two interceptions
led to 17 points for the Seahawks, and he was pulled for Matt
Cassel him early in the fourth quarter after he was picked off
the second time. Frazier was blunt in his criticism of Ponder
But the coach
said he believes Ponder, and not Cassel or Josh Freeman, again
gives the Vikings their best chance to beat the Packers on
Sunday. Frazier said he factored in Ponder's previous
performances against Green Bay, experience playing in the cold
at Lambeau Field and his grasp of the offense. But he also
acknowledged the questions sticking with Ponder have prompted
from fans, the media and even within the locker room.
As for the
get on board. It helps if we can have success as a team,"
starts, Ponder has thrown nine interceptions and lost four
fumbles. He has only six touchdown passes, though he has rushed
for four scores. The inability to consistently complete
important passes to intermediate and deep receivers has been a
have turned this season into an open tryout at the position, but
they're so far past the developmental stage with Ponder that
there's almost no amount of highlight-reel throws he can make
down the stretch that could dissuade them from drafting a
quarterback next spring.
I'm not focused on it," Ponder said. "There's enough
pressure going on in this position. And if you start worrying
about those things, it's only to make it worse. And again, my
future in my eyes doesn't go past Sunday."
wouldn't speculate on the depth chart past this week, either,
but he left open the possibility that Freeman will start again.
His debut was dismal, 53 attempts for 190 yards, but the Vikings
make take another look. Cassel is likely the backup again, for
this game at least.
comes to Josh or Matt for future ballgames, you deal with it
probably on Monday when we come back after this Green Bay
game," Frazier said.
Freeman has "been a professional in everything we've asked
him to do." Freeman backed up that assessment after
practice by avoiding even a whiff of discontent in discussing
his situation with reporters.
our job to say anything about that other than, 'Here we go,
Christian!'" Freeman said.
He said he has
no regret about signing here, despite being on the inactive list
for four of the six games he's been on the roster.
distractions. No anything. You just get to sit and focus. I get
my beats bumping in the QB room, just sitting there and just
jamming and watch tape and take notes. It's great. It's
great," Freeman said.
NOTES: WR Greg
Childs took part in his first practice in more than 15 months,
since he tore the patellar tendon in both knees the first week
of training camp as a rookie. He's on the physically unable to
perform list, and the Vikings have three weeks to decide whether
or not to put him on the active roster the rest of the season.
"I'm going to eventually get on the playing field. I don't
know when. It could be by the end of the season, or it could be
the beginning of the next. But it's going to be one of the
two," Childs said. ... C John Sullivan has not yet passed
his post-concussion test and did not practice on Wednesday. ...
RB Adrian Peterson (groin) was held out, as was WR Greg Jennings
(Achilles). Frazier said Jennings was still sore in the morning.
The coach said he's "cautiously optimistic" Peterson