GREEN BAY — Davante Adams couldn’t help but look. The Green Bay Packers wide receiver tried to stay focused on his drill work, but when the two-time NFL MVP is back on the Don Hutson Center FieldTurf with you, well, it can be a bit of a distraction.
“I was peeking over there looking at him,” Adams said, referring to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “He looked good — so far. Once he gets healed up, I know we’ll be excited to have him back.”
On Wednesday, Rodgers’ teammates were just happy to see him at practice. Exactly one month since he fractured his right collarbone in an Oct. 15 game at Minnesota, Rodgers did conditioning and agility work as well as some arm exercises off to the side during the open-to-the-media portion of practice. It’s unclear what, if anything, Rodgers did after reporters departed, but it did mark an early milepost on his comeback trail.
To be clear, Rodgers was not actually practicing and has not been designated for return from injured reserve, on which he was placed on Oct. 20 — one day after having a plate surgically affixed to his collarbone with a number of screws. Rather, he merely did his rehabilitation work in close proximity to his teammates — something that clearly lifted his spirits as well as theirs.
“It was just good being back on the practice field,” Rodgers said in a text message. “Schedule hasn’t changed. Out eight weeks. Only back if it’s completely healed.”
That’s what Rodgers has been saying since returning to Green Bay. He won’t be eligible to start practicing again for another two weeks, per the NFL’s rules on injured reserve returnees. Once he begins practicing, the earliest the Packers could activate him would be for their Dec. 17 game at Carolina, although neither he nor the team has given any indication that a return against the Panthers would be realistic.
“It was awesome. Tough dude. He’s doing his best to get back as soon as he can,” center Corey Linsley said. “He’s here every day in the meetings, so he’s around. It’s not like that’s the first time he’s come out of the darkness or anything. He’s been around. But it’s awesome to have him out there.”
The Packers’ final two games are at home against the Vikings on Dec. 23 and at Detroit on Dec. 31. In addition to the bone needing to heal, the team would also have to still be in playoff contention for it to, in Rodgers’ words, “make sense” for him to return. The Packers enter Sunday’s game against Baltimore at Lambeau Field at 5-4 following their victory at Chicago last week – the team’s first win since Rodgers’ injury.
“I think if we’ve got to wait until Week 15 or something like that, but, for a guy who just had surgery several weeks ago, you wouldn’t be able to tell that he had surgery,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “We’ve still got to wait, but it’s good to see. At the same time, we’ve still got to hold up our end of the bargain and steal a few wins throughout these next several weeks in hopes that we’ve got a shot with him coming back. We started with one last week. Hopefully we can get another one this week.”
Hundley feels ‘fine’
Brett Hundley’s hamstring is better, and so is his confidence. Both should help Rodgers’ replacement carry the momentum of last Sunday’s win in Chicago into this week’s game against the Ravens.
Hundley finished the Packers’ 23-16 victory over the Bears but was clearly hampered by the hamstring. He was a full participant in practice Wednesday.
“I felt fine. Hopefully I’ll just continue into that on Sunday,” Hundley said. “I can’t give a percentage, but I feel good.”
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Thanks to a 19-yard touchdown pass to Adams and a 42-yard completion to him late in the fourth quarter on a crucial third-down play, Hundley’s feeling good about himself, too.
“I hate losing. Nobody in here likes losing. So when you win, everything is better. Life is better,” Hundley said. “I think we like winning around here – and we’ll try to stick to it.”
Goode to be back
Long-snapper Brett Goode didn’t know he’d be back with the Packers when he signed an injury settlement in late September.
“I hoped. I hoped,” Goode said Wednesday after re-signing with the team a day earlier. “You never know in this business what’s going to happen, how everything’s going to play out, but I hoped I’d come back.”
Goode injured his hamstring during a Week 3 win over Cincinnati, although he finished the game. He agreed to an injury settlement and re-signed with the team Tuesday, continuing the bizarre long-snapping carousel the Packers have experienced this season.
When Goode snaps against the Ravens on Sunday, kicker Mason Crosby will have endured four snapper changes: From rookie Derek Hart to Goode during training camp; from Goode to rookie Taybor Pepper after Goode’s injury; from Pepper to Hart when Pepper broke his foot on Nov. 3; and now from Hart back to Goode.
“I had a couple (other teams) call right after I had the injury settlement, but I chose not to go to those because I didn’t want to go do a workout when I was injured. I wanted to be fully healthy,” Goode said. “By the time I got healthy, it ended up working out to come back here. I’ve felt good for a couple weeks now.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh chuckled when asked if he considered having his team travel to Wisconsin extra early on Saturday so he could swing by Camp Randall Stadium and watch his brother, Jim, coaching against the University of Wisconsin with his Michigan Wolverines.
“It’d been too stressful, you know? Too stressful,” John Harbaugh said. “One game’s enough to deal with.”
The Harbaugh brothers faced each other on Thanksgiving Day 2011 when Jim was coaching the San Francisco 49ers and again in Super Bowl XLVII, which the Ravens won. John said he wasn’t sure if their parents, legendary coach Jack Harbaugh and wife Jackie, will attend either game.
“It’s crazy. I don’t think my mom and dad are even coming,” John said. “It’s kind of interesting though. Kind of fun. Hopefully we can have some success as a family.”
Matthews said he and other players “got a good laugh from” ex-Packers tight end Martellus Bennett suiting up for New England on Sunday night after claiming he needed season-ending shoulder surgery before being released by Green Bay. “I think everybody knows the story there — we don’t need to talk about it much more,” Matthews added. ... Like Rodgers, running back Ty Montgomery (ribs) and safety Morgan Burnett (groin) were with the rehab group as well. … Defensive tackle Quinton Dial (chest) returned to full practice. … Cornerback Demetri Goodson, on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury from last season, began practicing. The team has three weeks before it must decide to activate him, place him on injured reserve or release him.