Aaron Rodgers has missed practice due to back tightness, and the Green Bay Packers should keep him out of the final two preseason games.
Aaron Rodgers was expected to start last Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens, but head coach Matt LaFleur decided to keep him out of the game due to back tightness.
LaFleur made the smart move. He said on Sunday that Rodgers likely would’ve played if it was a regular season game.
That’s good news, suggesting Rodgers’ injury isn’t a concern for Week 1. But it would also make little sense risking him in either of the Packers‘ final two preseason games.
Is it possible Rodgers’ back feels good this week and he would be able to play on Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders? Absolutely. And getting some live game reps in LaFleur’s offense would be beneficial. But Rodgers’ long-term health is far more important than getting in some preseason reps.
It’s not ideal to go through August without playing in preseason, but the Packers did have the benefit of hosting joint practices with the Houston Texans. LaFleur said that those joint practices can allow you to not have to play starters in the preseason as much.
“I think it allows you to get the work in so you don’t have to play some of your guys in those preseason games,” LaFleur said. “You use the competition that occurs in practice as the game action.”
And LaFleur is right. It’s not like Rodgers hasn’t played against another NFL defense this summer. While it wasn’t in a stadium in real game action, it was still valuable reps which will help him get prepared for the start of the season.
While playing a quarter, maybe two, against the Raiders would be ideal for Rodgers and the starters two weeks out from the regular season opener, risking re-aggravating his back isn’t worth it.
We’ve seen the Packers without Rodgers. It didn’t go too well in 2017. We’ve seen them with Rodgers playing hurt. That didn’t go well in 2018.
The Packers need Rodgers fully healthy and ready to go when the team arrives at Soldier Field on September 5. If that means going without any preseason action, so be it.