GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers was a little confused at practice Wednesday.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback apparently saw something he hasn’t seen in quite a while — his entire offense back together again.
“It felt … different,” Rodgers said.
Every offensive player took part Wednesday, and Rodgers hinted that they all took at least some 11-on-11 team reps — even left tackle David Bakhtiari, who hasn’t played since sustaining a hamstring injury in the opener against Seattle. Bakhtiari was listed as having been a “limited” participant, as was right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who returned from his ankle injury to start in last Sunday's 35-31 victory at Dallas.
Running back Ty Montgomery, who sustained multiple broken ribs against Chicago on Sept. 28 and was inactive against the Cowboys, was listed as having practiced in full. So was wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who wasn’t on the field for the Packers’ game-winning drive in the final minute against Dallas. Nelson’s injury, which had been undisclosed, was revealed to be a back problem.
“It felt different seeing some of those numbers moving around, and that’s a good thing for us,” Rodgers said. “We weathered some of the early season injuries and are still feeling good about 4-1. Now we need to continue it through the bye week and have a couple of strong performances.”
After Sunday’s game at Minnesota, the Packers play the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 22 at Lambeau Field before taking their bye week.
Asked if he enjoyed the challenge of playing without so many key pieces on offense during the first five games, Rodgers replied, “Well, I’d like to have my guys out there. But I’m proud of the guys that stepped up and made plays when given the opportunities.”
Just because everyone on offense practiced doesn’t mean they’ll all be cleared for Sunday — Thursday’s in-pads practice will be a better gauge of where Bakhtiari and Montgomery are at — but it was especially encouraging that Nelson proclaimed himself ready to play.
“I went through everything like normal. Feel good,” Nelson said. “It’s nothing serious. Everything is good. Like I said, practicing all week and playing on Sunday.”
The news wasn’t as positive on the defensive side of the ball.
Hybrid safety/inside linebacker Morgan Burnett (hamstring) did not practice, and neither of the team’s starting cornerbacks were full-go. Rookie Kevin King (concussion) did not practice, while veteran Davon House (quadriceps) was limited. House was in and out of the lineup against the Cowboys after missing two games with the quadriceps injury sustained in Atlanta.
Celebration a hit
The celebration was Nelson’s brainchild. Apparently the burgeoning T-shirt business was Davante Adams’ idea.
The Packers receivers showed their fun side in Sunday’s win over the Cowboys, celebrating Adams’ first touchdown by acting as if they were jumping into a bobsled and taking it for a run. While they were one short — Olympic bobsled teams have four members, while the Packers’ crew was only Randall Cobb, Nelson and Adams — the act was a hit. The only celebration that got more attention during Week 5 was the Vikings’ duck-duck-goose routine — or, if you’re a Minnesotan, duck-duck-grey duck — during Monday night’s game.
“I was trying to think of different things sports or activities that different people do that you can have fun with,” Nelson said. “I think it’s been great for the league to allow us to go back to the group celebrations. I think it’s more enjoyable than an individual dancing over there by the pylon. I think guys have gotten creative with it. I’m a little upset with one that happened Monday night (with the Vikings) because that (idea) was in our back pocket. It’s a challenge now to keep thinking of new ones.”
Nelson, Cobb and Adams were all sporting their new bobsled-inspired T-shirt from 500 Level, which is already for sale on the company’s website. Apparently they didn’t give one to their quarterback, however, leaving Rodgers to beg for a size large.
“They did a good job,” Nelson said.
Meanwhile, apparently Adams, who caught two touchdowns against the Cowboys, hasn’t done a good job with his celebration ideas. While the bobsled routine was test-driven during a recent practice, none of Adams’ suggestions have cut it. He said No. 5 receiver Trevor Davis has shown the most creativity.
“My ideas have been shot down so far,” Adams said. “Trev has been pretty good with that so I think we’re going to leave it up to him and then I’ll be a part of it. My ideas haven’t been too great.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will convene a meeting Monday in New York that will include league owners, players and NFL Players Association president DeMaurice Smith.
Nelson, the Packers’ player rep, said he had not been invited as of Wednesday afternoon.
“I think a lot of the guys have been East Coast guys where it’s easier for them to make the trip to New York,” Nelson said. “I have been a part of phone calls but, as far as I know, I will not be going.”
The debate about players kneeling during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality — and players linking arms or protesting in other ways during the anthem in the wake of President Donald Trump’s opinion that players who protest should be fired — has raged in recent weeks.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones upped the ante by saying that any of his players who are seen “disrespecting the flag” will not play.
“From what’s been relayed to me, it’s been a good, open discussion between the players, Roger Goodell, some of the owners,” Nelson said. “Some of the owners that are in the area have been there and just trying to figure out what we can do. Obviously, a demonstration’s one thing but their discussions are getting past that to what we can do in our communities, what we can do if it’s legislative-wise or whatever. I think they’re all trying to work that out. We’re all trying to get on the same page.”
Rodgers has criticized any directive that would tell players that they must stand during the anthem.
“I haven’t heard anything about that as far as in this locker room. There hasn’t been a memo to the players,” Rodgers said. “But I don’t think that’s the best message of leadership from the top.”