GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers practiced Saturday for the first time since he sprained his left knee in the season opener, increasing the Green Bay Packers‘ chances of having their starting quarterback on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
It’s a significant step, but it doesn’t guarantee Rodgers’ return.
That decision won’t be made until the team is sure that Rodgers came through the one-hour session without any setbacks. That likely means waiting to see how Rodgers’ knee feels Sunday morning.
Rodgers, who was listed as questionable on Friday, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday — the team’s two longest on-field sessions of the week. Unlike most teams, the Packers don’t practice on Fridays but instead hold a light on-field session on Saturdays before a Sunday game.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that he would have no problem playing Rodgers even if he did not practice at all this week.
“Don’t really need to see anything [from Rodgers on Saturday] because the classroom work and participation from both Aaron and DeShone [Kizer] is all part of this preparation process,” McCarthy said. “So we’re just going to keep working through that, and we’ll be ready to go.
“He could play with no reps,” McCarthy added. “We’ve established that point some time ago in his career. So I think it’s no different. You’d like to walk off the field Saturday and have your plan set, but this is the National Football League, things happen. Guys get sick on Saturday, too. That’s all part of our process where we work the practice squad guys in and everything. So we’ll be ready for anything, but I know he wants to play. So we’ll see how it goes.”
Rodgers left Sunday night’s opener against the Bears in the second quarter after defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris fell on the quarterback’s left leg. Rodgers said it was fair to call the injury a sprain, but he wouldn’t say what exactly was sprained.
It’s most likely that he sprained one of ligaments other than the ACL. An MCL, LCL or PCL sprain could heal without surgery but any damage to the ACL would not. He said he has had three previous surgeries on his left knee — in high school (arthroscopic surgery), college (ACL reconstruction) and after the 2015 NFL season (arthroscopic).
Rodgers said he did not take any painkilling injections or medication before he returned last Sunday against the Bears and threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally the Packers from a 20-3 deficit to a 24-23 win.