NFC Championship Sunday: The Green Bay Packers prepare


As the Green Bay Packers home in on the NFC Championship GameAaron Rodgers is getting a little tired of talking about his left calf – and frankly, so should be everyone else.

…the sight of a gimpy Rodgers hopping on one good leg has to have that vaunted Seattle pass rush licking their chops.

However, until the Green Bay Packers meet the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday afternoon, that will be just about all that is talked about.

It is reasonable, however. Without Rodgers, the Packers haven’t the slightest chance against the “Legion of Boom” and the infamous 12th Man.

Matt Flynn is not the long-term answer at the backup QB position, and he certainly doesn’t have the intangibles or even the skills to compete against an elite defense. Tolzien will be activated against Seattle, but he is hardly ready to lead the Packers to victory over the best team in the NFC (and perhaps, the league).

The Seahawks were already resting on their laurels as they coasted past the Carolina Panthers – the sight of a gimpy Rodgers hopping on one good leg has to have that vaunted Seattle pass rush licking their chops.

Randall Cobb, Aaron Rodgers and John Kuhn line up for a play against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

The playoffs are about drama and intrigue, and this seasons NFC Championship game will have just that.

Rodgers talked about his injury on his Tuesday radio show, claiming that the calf strain is “no better, no worse” for wear.

He was confident that he has about “120 minutes left in the tank,” alluding to the fact that 120 minutes of game time will put the Packers experiencing the final buzzer on Super Bowl Sunday.

It is to be determined if that will actually be the case – and that determination begins and ends in Seattle.

The Packers are claiming that they are a different team than the one that was crushed under the foot of Seattle in the opener of the NFL season.

Aaron Rodgers signals to rookie Davante Adams just prior to a second half play against the Cowboys. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

While this is true, the same can be said of the Seahawks.

In that respect, neither team has much of an advantage or an upper hand. Each will be faced with the impossible task of figuring out what can still be relied upon as valuable information from that week one meeting, and what needs to be discarded or overlooked.

For instance – it is quite unlikely that Aaron Rodgers and Co. will completely avoid the right side of the field. Jarrett Boykin was sent to reside on Sherman Island for 60 straight minutes on Sept. 4, 2014; this is not going to be the case this time around.

Boykin was used primarily as a decoy, though the Packers claim that their interests were never piqued by his separation from Sherman, enough to garnish a look, a read, a target, a reception. Sherman looked disinterested all night.

If he expects much of the same this week, he is in for a surprise. Rodgers’ mobility will be sorely limited. He won’t be able to cruise in and out of the pocket, as he has grown so accustomed to.

The offensive line will need to give Rodgers ample time to find an open man – and that task will be difficult enough without limiting it to one side of the field. Seattle’s pass defense is the best of the best. Top corners Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, a very capable Byron Maxwell and a stud Pro-Bowl safety in Earl Thomas III will be ball-hawking on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers lets loose on a long pass in the first quarter of Sunday’s game with the Cowboys. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

They will be watching and waiting for Rodgers to just float one, to not quite get enough on another. They were watching the Cowboys defense against the Packers this past week. Everyone saw the struggle of the first half; Rodgers was too early, too late, too high, too low – trying to find a groove.

Though his efforts were rewarded in the second half, as he warmed up and got going … his first half struggles provided a sort of blueprint for the Seahawks to follow:


Though the Cowboys were unable to take advantage of all the opportunities, the Seahawks defense will be more than ready.

And over qualified.

As the week progresses, Rodgers will test the leg much the same as he did last week. He will probably only practice on Thursday, give the calf the mend in the meantime.

It will likely be similar to the Cowboys game in feeling and mobility, leaving a tough task for the receivers and offensive line, not to mention a tall order for Eddie Lacy to provide a spark for an otherwise ailing offense without a fully healthy field general.

The Packers will look to other players to step up, much like Davante Adams was able to last week, to show the Seahawks a few new wrinkles, apart from the last meeting.

More from Aaron Rodgers

Who will this week’s X-factors be?

Who needs to have big games?

How will Rodgers work under more pressure from a dominant pass rush?

Time will tell.

In the meantime, however, Rodgers can bet that the calf will still be trending up until and (hopefully, following a Packers’ win) through sunset on Championship Sunday in Seattle.

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