GREEN BAY — Let the healing — and the waiting — begin.
Aaron Rodgers underwent surgery for his fractured right collarbone Thursday in California, a source confirmed, and now the Green Bay Packers quarterback will wait and see if the procedure accelerates his recovery enough for him to return this season.
Rodgers posted a photo of himself recovering in the hospital late Thursday night, thanking followers for "all the love, support, thoughts and prayers." He ended the post with the hashtags #comebackstartsnow and #riseagain.
Rodgers, who broke his collarbone last Sunday at Minnesota when he was tackled by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr after throwing a first-quarter pass, could still miss the remainder of the season, as the Packers said when they announced the injury.
But by having the surgery, Rodgers gives himself a chance of healing quickly enough to play again this year, as opposed to waiting for the collarbone to heal on its own, the source said.
It's unclear how extensive the damage was to Rodgers’ collarbone or what type of surgery was performed. Earlier this week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the team planned to wait and see what the surgery revealed before considering whether to place the two-time NFL MVP on injured reserve. Asked specifically about putting Rodgers on IR, McCarthy said that he was not “looking in that direction” at this point.
“As far as Aaron's situation, our focus clearly is just to get through the surgery and just see where he is,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “I'm not personally looking in that direction. My focus is on Aaron's health right now.”
When Rodgers fractured his left collarbone in November 2013, he did not have surgery and allowed the bone to knit on its own instead. Rodgers ended up missing seven games, returning for the regular-season finale at Chicago. In that game, Rodgers threw a 48-yard fourth-down touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute to beat the Bears and send the Packers into the postseason as the NFC North division champions at 8-7-1. The Packers went 2-4-1 in the seven games Rodgers missed.
Rodgers was off to an MVP-caliber start this season, having completed 128 of 193 passes (66.3 completion percentage) for 1,385 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions for a passer rating of 103.2.
With Rodgers out for the foreseeable future, backup Brett Hundley will start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.
“A-Rod is my boy, my brother. I love him to death,” Hundley said. “He's taught me everything I know. So it's going to be fun, and it will show on Sunday.”
Matthews weighs in
While they may not be obsessing over Barr’s season-altering hit on Rodgers, Clay Matthews has given some what-would-I-do thought to the hit.
The six-time Pro Bowl linebacker acknowledged he’s put a few hits on opposing quarterbacks over the years that rankled opponents and their fans, too.
Nevertheless, Matthews said he was surprised no flag was thrown on Barr, who hit Rodgers after the ball was gone — and appeared to take 1½ steps to get to Rodgers, plenty of time to have pulled up — and drove him into the turf.
Matthews said defenders usually deliver what he termed a “love tap” in which they push the quarterback but don’t tackle him, showing that they could have inflicted more damage but chose not to.
“After seeing it, I was surprised that he wasn’t flagged,” Matthews said. “Simply because, I’ve been hitting quarterbacks for almost a decade now, and generally when you see a quarterback get rid of the ball, you’re allowed to give him a shot (to) show that you pulled up on him.
“Obviously, more is going to be made out of it simply because our quarterback broke his collarbone. I’m not going to go as far as to say hits are dirty because I’m sure plenty of fans from all sorts of teams have said the same thing about me. It’s unfortunate it happened, but surprising that there wasn’t a flag.
“Obviously, I’m going to say I would’ve pulled off on that but if that was their quarterback, I think it’s at the statute of limitations where you need to pull off.”
Rodgers could be seen barking at Barr after he got up from the hit and was escorted to the sideline by medical staff. McCarthy said earlier this week that he believed Rodgers knew right away that the collarbone was broken.
Barr wasn’t flagged on the play, and McCarthy referred to some “bull (expletive)” that went on after the hit, as Rodgers was lying on his back in pain. McCarthy never said what he was referring to. Earlier this week, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer defended the hit as just part of football.
Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said that he believes he has a responsibility to protect offensive players from injury when he delivers a hit. He said when he was flagged and fined earlier this year for a hit on Chicago Bears wide receiver Joshua Bellamy, he was trying to avoid delivering a dangerous blow.
“With me, I look at it as if it was my son playing quarterback or it was my friend that I’m going against. This is a job. We all have a job to do. But we do this for fun. No one’s out here trying to hurt each other. That’s my take on it,” Clinton-Dix said. “You have some guys that have a different mindset, who want to be that guy to knock a great quarterback out of the game or whatever the case may be.
“With that play (by Barr), I really don’t think it was intentional. I don’t think he meant to do it on purpose. But he definitely knows better than that. Guys like A-Rod, you respect them so much to the point where I wouldn’t dare. If I got a chance to sack A-Rod or knock him out, I’d just go in and make a clean little tackle just to get him on the ground. I wouldn’t dare try to drive him into the ground. That’s understood. You don’t want to hurt a guy like that.”
For the second straight day, the Packers had 14 players on their injury report, and their starting tackles — left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion) — once again were listed as limited participants. Will they be ready for Sunday? “We’ll have two more days and then we’ll see where those guys are at and go from there,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. … Left guard Lane Taylor (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring) did not practice for the second straight day and appear unlikely to play. … Rookie outside linebacker Vince Biegel (foot) remains on the physically unable to perform list but practiced in pads for the first time Thursday. “(He) looked good,” McCarthy said. “Great to have him out there.”