GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers isn’t sure yet if he’ll be able to ditch the knee brace that’s been his constant companion since opening night. But the Green Bay Packers quarterback is looking forward to getting two of his favorite targets — wide receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison — back for Sunday’s pivotal game at the Los Angeles Rams.
Rodgers did not practice Tuesday — a session that was a Wednesday-style practice because coach Mike McCarthy moved up the team’s work schedule so it could depart for Southern California on Friday — and said he has not yet had an MRI to see how much his left knee healed during the bye week.
Rodgers did rehabilitation work during practice, just as he has during every Wednesday-style practice since the injury. He said he hopes to practice today — which will be a Thursday-style practice, in pads and with a heavier workload — and then the medical staff will decide whether to give him the OK to face the Rams without the brace.
“It’s too early to tell. I’d love to, but it’s too early to tell at this point,” Rodgers said. “If I’m completely healed, I don’t need to wear a brace. (I) feel more comfortable without it, obviously. Having dealt with a knee injury for much of my football life, obviously you’re more protected (with a brace). You see some guys who do wear it all the time without having issues, but I just feel more comfortable without having it on.
“So, if it’s not on, that means I’m feeling great and if it is, that means I’m not quite all the way back.”
Cobb and Allison, however, should be all the way back after missing time with hamstring injuries. Cobb hasn’t played since the Packers’ Week 3 loss at Washington, while Allison left the team’s Week 4 win over Buffalo with a concussion and a hamstring injury.
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Cobb, who struggled against the Redskins with a crucial fumble and two dropped passes, had been off to a strong start, catching nine passes for 142 yards — including the game-winning 75-yard touchdown from Rodgers — in the Packers’ come-from-behind win over Chicago in the opener. Allison had caught 19 passes for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns at the time of his injury.
While rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown did some good things in their stead, Rodgers acknowledged that getting his two veteran receivers back would be a boost.
“It’d be great. Obviously, Geronimo had a great start to the season and Randall (did) as well,” Rodgers said. “Those nagging injuries that have kept them out have been tough on them, but they’ve been great teammates in the room, helping those guys get ready. I’m really proud of ‘EQ’ and ‘MVS,’ stepping up and making some big-time plays. That’s what we need them to do, to step in like they did.”
Said Cobb: “(The bye) definitely helped me. Having those eight, nine days were very beneficial. Do I feel confident I’m playing Sunday? I feel a lot more confident than I felt last week and the weeks prior.”
If Rodgers is able to move even better than he did in the Packers’ 33-30 pre-bye win over San Francisco on Oct. 15, when he was able to run more bootlegs and had a crucial 21-yard scramble that helped set up Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal as time expired, it would open up the playbook. But Rodgers also acknowledged that getting the running game going would also benefit the offense.
“It’d be nice to have more balance there. We want to, we really do. But we’ve got to start a little bit faster,” Rodgers said, explaining that large deficits against Chicago (20-0), Washington (28-10) and Detroit (24-0) were reasons why the offense has been so pass-heavy.
“If we’re not hitting third downs, we’re limiting our run opportunities. So we’ve got to do a better job starting the game out and we’ve got to run it more effectively and convert third downs to give us more opportunities to run the ball on early downs.”