Friday's NFL: Rodgers' status still up in the air
Green Bay, Wis. — Still no answers on A-Rod.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is questionable for Sunday’s NFC North showdown with Minnesota. Rodgers, who missed the end of the first half of the Week 1 victory against Chicago with an injured left knee, did not practice Wednesday and Thursday and would not have practiced Friday.
“Aaron’s getting better,” coach Mike McCarthy said Friday. “I would say he feels better than he did at the beginning of the week. (Saturday’s) practice will be a pretty big indicator. … nothing has changed. He’s clearly day to day. Hopefully, he’ll be able to do work (Saturday).”
Even if Rodgers doesn’t practice today, he could play Sunday.
“You’d like to walk off the field Saturday and have your plan set, but this is the National Football League,” McCarthy said. “We’ll be ready for anything, but I know he wants to play.”
Rodgers was injured on a sack by Roy Robertson-Harris with about nine minutes to go in the first half against Chicago.
He was carted into the locker room for examination, returned for the start of the third quarter and led the Packers back from a 20-0 deficit by throwing for 273 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
“His competitive nature kind of takes over,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said Thursday. “He’s obviously got exceptional talent. You don’t have to be an expert to figure that out. But I think the thing that separates a lot of great players from good players in this league is that competitive spirit. You certainly saw that in full force in the second half. Some of the things he did were pretty special.”
After the game Sunday, Rodgers compared his mobility to that of a “statue.” One of Rodgers’ greatest assets is his ability to move in the pocket and extend plays out of the pocket. Any lack of mobility could play into the favor of a Vikings defense that led the NFL in points allowed last season, and intercepted San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo three times in Week 1.
“There’s two kinds of mobility,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “In the pocket, (the) subtle movements that allow you to have a clean launch point, and then there’s movement that allows you to get outside the pocket, which allows you to extend plays and take shots down the field or run. And we’ll see what kind of mobility I’m allowed to have.”
If Rodgers can’t play, DeShone Kizer would get the start. Kizer had the NFL’s worst passer rating and lost all 15 starts as a rookie with Cleveland last season. The Packers acquired him in an offseason trade, and he beat out Brett Hundley, who went 3-6 in nine starts last season with Rodgers sidelined by a broken collarbone. In his first two series against Chicago, Kizer lost a fumble and threw an interception that was returned for a TD.
“I think obviously we have the best player in the league in our locker room,” Kizer said of Rodgers. “If he’s ready to go, I’m looking forward to cheering him on and doing whatever I can to help him. It’s also my duty and job to make sure I’m ready to go just in case he’s not.”
Big Ben questionable
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned under center on Friday after missing the previous two practices with a bruised right elbow.
He is officially listed on the injury report as questionable to play, but Roethlisberger’s teammates expect him to be on the field for the Steelers’ home opener Sunday against Kansas City.
“It’s always good to have Big Ben out there,” center Maurkice Pouncey said.
“He’s fought through so many things throughout the years. He’s a tough guy.”
Roethlisberger did not speak to reporters following Friday’s practice, but is expected to play in his 202nd game, second most in franchise history. The 15-year veteran has missed just six games because of injury since the start of the 2013 season. He played a full 16-game schedule once in his first nine NFL years.
Roethlisberger was a full participant Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday because of his right elbow injury, sustained on the Steelers’ next-to-last offensive play of overtime last Sunday in Cleveland when Genard Avery sacked him and forced a fumble.
“We’re never really worried about him,” Pouncey said. “He takes some big hits in the games. If he wants to sit out a couple days, it’s totally fine.”
Two Titans QBs
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he expects to play both starting quarterback Marcus Mariota and backup Blaine Gabbert in Sunday’s game against the Texans.
Mariota didn’t throw during the open portion of practice Friday for the second straight day and was listed as limited and questionable on the team’s final injury report. Mariota injured his elbow on a hit from William Hayes while carrying out a fake on a run-pass option play during a season-opening 27-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
“We’re evaluating,” Vrabel said. “We anticipate both of those guys playing in the game.”
Two-time Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman was ruled out of the Falcons’ game with a knee injury.
... The Seahawks signed linebacker Mychal Kendricks despite his recent guilty plea on insider trading charges.
... The Chargers will be missing two starters, offensive tackle Joe Barksdale (knee) and defensive end Joey Bosa (foot).
... Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson (hamstring) and rookie cornerback Taron Johnson (shoulder) have been ruled out of the home opener.
... Dolphins left guard Josh Sitton is out for the season with a torn rotator cuff.
... Michele Tafoya will work her 250th NFL game as a sideline reporter on Sunday night.
... Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata has been fined $40,108 by the NFL for two roughing-the-passer calls in the team’s season opener.
... Former Jets linebacker Dylan Donahue has been suspended 14 weeks by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy.