Aaron Rodgers was supposed to make his debut in the Green Bay Packers’ new offense under first-year coach Matt LaFleur on Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens, but the team pulled the plug shortly before kickoff.
The Packers announced Rodgers would not play because of back tightness. They called the move “precautionary.”
Rodgers had participated in all 14 of the Packers’ training camp practices but did not play in last week’s preseason opener against the Houston Texans.
When asked this week what he hoped to get out of his action against the Ravens, Rodgers said: “Healthy. Efficiency. Communication sorted out the right way with the plays. Coming in and then the delivery to the line and the adjustments within the plays, obviously be efficient.”
Rodgers had said earlier in training camp that he expected to play both against the Ravens and in next week’s penultimate preseason game against the Raiders in Winnipeg. It could mean Rodgers will play more than expected against Oakland, but the stadium in Winnipeg has never hosted an NFL game, so the Packers will want to make sure the field is up to standard before they put Rodgers on it.
Rodgers has not played in a preseason finale since 2012.
LaFleur said he did not play Rodgers and most of the starters last week against Houston because he “didn’t want to put them at risk.”
Rodgers has no known history of back injuries, but he’s coming off a season in which he played most of the year with a sprained knee and a tibial plateau fracture. He also suffered a concussion, the third known one of his NFL career, in the regular-season finale.
Rodgers played only seven snaps of all last preseason. The thinking this summer was he needed reps because LaFleur is installing a new offense, but the Packers felt it wasn’t worth exposing Rodgers to any further issues.
When asked this week if he holds his breath every time Rodgers takes the field in the preseason, general manager Brian Gutekunst said: “There’s a lot of holding breath during the preseason.”
The Packers are still trying to determine the backup job behind Rodgers, and it has been a close competition between DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle, with some intrigue from undrafted rookie Manny Wilkins.