GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers never felt the need to get into details about his right thumb injury for one reason: It was never going to keep the Green Bay Packers quarterback from playing.
That’s why it wasn’t until Wednesday when he finally — and reluctantly — confirmed that it was indeed broken.
“It doesn’t make a difference with me playing,” Rodgers said. “It doesn’t make a difference. You saw the tape on my thumb. Didn’t make a difference.”
Rodgers has been dealing with the injury since he was sacked by Giants linebacker Oshane Ximines on the final play of the Packers’ Oct. 9 game in London. Rodgers attempted a Hail Mary, but Ximines hit Rodgers’ throwing arm and forced a fumble. Immediately after the play, Rodgers came up flexing his right hand.
Rodgers was asked specifically on Oct. 26 if his thumb was broken. He replied at the time: “My thumb hurt.”
Even when Pat McAfee asked Rodgers on Tuesday during his weekly appearance on McAfee’s show if the thumb was broken, Rodgers just said he had played with broken fingers before without elaborating on this injury specifically.
“I think I’ve had worse injuries I’ve played with,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Definitely a challenge, but the days off helped. Feeling better this week.”
He was back at practice Wednesday after an extended break following the Packers’ loss to the Titans last Thursday, when Rodgers’ accuracy was perhaps at its worst. He missed throws at critical times in the second half to Allen Lazard and Sammy Watkins that he described as passes he’d complete 99 times out of 100. Still, he insisted the thumb injury had nothing to do with those misses.
“There’s one in every 100 that doesn’t come off the right way,” Rodgers said.
When asked whether he’s just saying that because he doesn’t want to sound like he’s using the thumb as an excuse, Rodgers said: “I think it’s the truth. My thumb was hurting a lot worse in the Dallas game, and I put the ball where I wanted to.
Indeed, Rodgers had pinpoint accuracy just five days earlier in a win over the Cowboys. As a whole, however, Rodgers’ accuracy numbers have been down since the injury. He completed 69.7% of his passes with eight touchdowns and three interceptions in the first five games of the season with the Packers at 3-2. In the next six, of which the Packers won only one, his completion rate dropped to 62% with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.
However, Rodgers said he has had other injuries that have affected his ability to throw more than this one.
“When I hurt my knee in ’18, you throw from the ground up, so that was definitely difficult on the footwork, plant leg,” Rodgers said. “When I broke my index finger in college, that was probably a slightly more important finger to deal with. I remember I was at practice and Coach Tedford said, ‘I don’t care what’s hurting, you’ve got one day off and if you miss another day of practice, you’re the backup again.’ So there was no choice.
Unlike Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who needed his fractured thumb surgically repaired earlier this season and missed five games, Rodgers said surgery was never considered and wouldn’t be needed after the season unless something else happens.
“I don’t know what [Prescott] had, but it probably wasn’t,” Rodgers said when asked if his injury was as severe.
Rodgers and the Packers had five days off before they returned to the practice field on Wednesday to prepare for Sunday’s game at the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I hope it helped his thumb,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. At 4-7, the Packers can afford many more — if any — losses and still have a chance to make the postseason. Some have liked this to the 2016 season, when the Packers were 4-6 and heading to Philadelphia when Rodgers said he thought they could “run the table.”
However, the Eagles team Rodgers & Co. He faced six years ago was 5-5. This one is 9-1.
“I feel confident we’re going to go out and play well,” Rodgers said. “But I don’t think this is the last stand.”