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As Packers enter bye week, Aaron Rodgers reportedly decides against surgery for fractured pinkie toe, hopes for healing
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As Packers enter bye week, Aaron Rodgers reportedly decides against surgery for fractured pinkie toe, hopes for healing

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scores past Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey on a 1-yard keeper Sunday at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY — After Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Rams, Aaron Rodgers sounded encouraged that he’d made it through mostly unscathed with his fractured left pinkie toe.

“The difference is, I didn’t have to get shot up again at halftime,” the Green Bay Packers quarterback said proudly, contrasting his experience Sunday with the pain-killing injection he received at halftime of the team’s loss at Minnesota a week earlier. “So definitely (there was) healing this week.”

Check out some of the top performances from Green Bay's 36-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

And apparently, that healing has been sufficient to give not only Rodgers but the team’s medical staff — led in this case by renowned foot-and-ankle specialist led by Dr. Robert Anderson — reason to hold off on any sort of surgery on the toe.

The NFL Network reported Monday that Rodgers has decided against having surgery, at least for now, although a re-injury or deterioration could lead Rodgers and the medical staff to change course. But Rodgers had said after Sunday’s win that there were more tests scheduled for Monday morning, and much like the scans late in the week, they must have shown improvement.

Rodgers said after the game that a change in his practice approach also accelerated the healing of the toe, which he said he fractured while working out during his quarantine following his Nov. 3 positive test for COVID-19. Instead of practicing on the Friday before the game, which Rodgers did on a limited basis before the Nov. 21 loss in Minnesota, Rodgers didn’t take any snaps in practice and simply observed as backup Jordan Love took all the physical reps.

At the same time, FOX Sports did report at the start of the telecast that Rodgers had taken a pain-killing injection before Sunday’s game, which would explain his choice of words when he said he didn’t need to be “shot up again at halftime” as he had been against the Vikings.

“Last week, I tried to do some stuff on Friday, (because I) felt like we needed maybe a little jolt (at practice) and that kind of impacted (last) Sunday a little bit from a pain standpoint,” Rodgers explained. “This week, I just did a walk-through on Saturday and obviously all the walk-throughs during the week, but no practice time. I think really helped. It definitely helped looking at the scans. I’ve definitely felt better, but third quarter, late third, early fourth and I got stepped on early in the game, there was definitely some pain I was dealing with.”

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said during his usual day-after-the-game Q&A session with reporters on Monday that he could see that Rodgers was starting to limp noticeably toward the end of Sunday’s win, but that the hope is a full week off during the bye and continuing to be judicious with how much work Rodgers gets in practice will allow him to return to semi-normal for the stretch run and the playoffs.

“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know the time frame for that to heal. I know he’s battling through,” LaFleur said. “I think you can see it at the end of the game, as the game wears on, he starts to have a more noticeable limp. But he’s as tough as they come, man. He’s played through so many things throughout the course of his career.

“He’s a guy that wants to be out there at practice, too. He wants to be out there practicing with his teammates, not only for himself but for those other guys and making sure that everybody is on top of their game.”

Without practice, Rodgers was outstanding during the second half against the Vikings (10 of 11, 197 yards, three touchdowns) and against the Rams, Rodgers completed 28 of 45 passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and one zero-yard sack (97.2 passer rating). He didn’t seem overly bothered by the injury on his 1-yard touchdown run, on which he had to change direction multiple times as he pump-faked Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey to get to the goal line.

“He’s really good. He’s really good,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett replied Monday when asked why Rodgers has been able to be effective without practicing. “The fact that guy hasn’t practiced for as long as he hasn’t, if it was anybody else, you’d be concerned. But his preparation, how he is with the team, how he is around the team, being out at practice, calling in the plays for the guys, messing with the guys, just his presence out there is as important as anything.

Cornerback Rasul Douglas, running back A.J. Dillon and quarterback Aaron Rodgers speak to the media via Zoom after the Green Bay Packers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 36-28 on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

“He’s a leader of our team. To see him out there and not even skip a beat once he gets on the field, it’s just a credit to his toughness. What he’s going through just to be able to get out on that field is awesome. We just have to keep going with our same routine, continually develop a good plan for him, make sure he sees it and is excited about it. Because there’s a lot more visualization now. If you can’t get those reps, if you can’t face the defense, it’s about him being able to see it when we practice it on the tape. It’s just a little bit more visual. But he’s done a nice job.”

Meanwhile, the Packers are hoping that Rodgers isn’t the only player who gets healthy during the bye. Although outside linebacker Rashan Gary (elbow) and running back Aaron Jones (knee) both played against the Rams, neither was at 100% after missing the previous week’s game. Wide receiver Randall Cobb (groin) left the game after catching four passes for 95 yards, including the 7-yard touchdown on which he was injured.

In addition, several players who’ve been sidelined for a while or are on injured reserve — left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee), outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (back), cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) and center Josh Myers (knee) could return at some point after the bye for the final weeks of the regular season or playoffs.

“It’s been a long time,” LaFleur said of the late bye — the latest in Packers history. “I mean, it’s been 12 weeks we’re into this thing. We gave ‘em a couple days off after that Thursday night game, and then (a few days) going into the start of the regular season. These guys have been grinding hard.

“You always want the bye to work to your advantage. Hopefully, it will allow some of our guys to get some much-needed rest, to recharge the battery and potentially get some of these guys that have been IR or that have sustained injuries, to get them back — (or) in a better position to be close to 100%. I don’t think anybody is 100% at this time of the season, ut certainly, you want your guys to be as fresh as possible.”

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