GREEN BAY — Diagnosing what’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers has become something of a cottage industry lately.
From ex-teammates on TV shows to sports-talk radio to film junkies to social-media trolls, everyone seems to know why the Green Bay Packers quarterback isn’t playing up to the standard he set while winning two NFL MVPs and Super Bowl XLV.
But Rodgers himself doesn’t see any major flaw that can’t be fixed with some increased focus, some sharper fundamentals and a little bit of rhythm. To him, it’s all about accuracy, something he’s long prided himself on but as of late hasn’t been on point.
“I just think it’s accuracy,” Rodgers said Tuesday during his weekly briefing with reporters at his locker in advance of Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. “I’ve missed a couple that I’m used to hitting. And (if) you hit those and you take away the throwaways, (if you’re) able to hit some things on some of those plays instead of extending and throwing the ball away, (then) we’re right where we need to be.”
Asked what he needs to do to improve his accuracy, Rodgers smiled and replied, “Just throw it a little bit better.”
If that sounds like a guy doing his best to downplay the concerns that are swirling around the team’s still-scuffling offense, it was.
“We’ve set the bar so high here for so long,” said Rodgers, who through five games has completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 1,170 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions (88.4 rating). “We know that when we don’t reach those standards that we’re going to deal with questions like this for a stretch until we get this thing right. There’s a heightened sense of urgency but there’s definitely not any panic around here.”
Later, Rodgers added, “We’re close. We’ve been making some plays at times, but not good enough consistently. We’ve got to clean some things up. I’ve got to make some better throws at times and we’ve got to get on the same page a little bit more consistently, especially in the red zone.”
Shields to IR
To make room on the 53-man roster for new running back Knile Davis, the Packers placed cornerback Sam Shields on injured reserve. Shields indicated in an Instagram post he still expects to play this season, which is possible because he could end up being the player the Packers designate to return from IR.
Shields suffered a concussion in the opener at Jacksonville and has not played since. It was the fourth concussion of his NFL career and second in a nine-month span.
The NFL changed its temporary IR rule during the offseason. Previously, teams had to designate a player for return at the time they placed him on IR. Now, a team can activate any player they choose, as long as that player spends the eight-week minimum on IR. The earliest Shields could play again would be in Week 14 against the Seattle Seahawks.
“The plan for Sam is to get him healthy, No. 1,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s going to be longer than we might have expected … (but) it’s just important to go one day at a time and make sure we get him healthy.”
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is likely to be without his three top cornerbacks, with Shields on IR and second-year men Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins dealing with groin injuries. Neither of them practiced Tuesday.
“We’re going to be a work in progress there. We’re playing some young guys, obviously,” Capers said. “We’ve got a different group than we started the season with, and that’s the challenge. (But) we don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves.”
The Packers opened the three-week practice window for center Corey Linsley, who practiced for the first time. Linsley has been on the physically unable to perform list after missing all of training camp with a hamstring injury. “It was the conservative approach to begin with, putting me on PUP, but I appreciate (the team) for taking the conservative approach rather than rushing me back,” Linsley said. “It looks like it’s paid off.” … In addition to Rollins and Randall, wide receiver Davante Adams (concussion) and running back Eddie Lacy (ankle) didn’t practice, either. Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (quadriceps), wide receiver Randall Cobb (back) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) all practiced on a limited basis after not taking part in the team’s walkthrough on Monday, a good sign that they’ll be able to play Thursday.