Sports

Packers’ Rodgers on pitch count to preserve arm

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers has never been on a pitch count in training camp.

The Green Bay Packers have him on one this year, at least for now.

After missing all the offseason work in Green Bay during his standoff with the team, Rodgers hasn’t been unleashed quite yet.

“I think we’re mindful of that with all our quarterbacks, just making sure [of] that because having three quarterbacks, that’s a lot of wear and tear on the arm and we don’t want to burn ’em out too early,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Friday. “So he and I did talk about exactly what number we’re looking for each day or being below a certain number. So we’ve got a guy out there that lets me know when we’re at that halfway mark and then I relay that to Aaron.”

So far, that number appears to be in the low-to-mid teens when it comes to throws in 11-on-11 team periods. Rodgers threw 13 passes Friday during regular-speed team periods (not including those that were at a jog-through pace), 15 on Thursday and 14 during Wednesday’s opening practice of camp. What’s more, the Packers coaches have spaced out his throws. Friday’s practice marked the first time this camp that the 37-year-old Rodgers took five straight snaps during an 11-on-11 period. The first two days, he never had more than four in a row before Jordan Love stepped in. There have already been a few highlight plays, even without the pads on.

On Friday, he threw a perfect fade to Davante Adams for a touchdown against tight coverage from first-round pick Eric Stokes.

Rodgers also ended practice on Friday by handling 10 straight plays — eight of them passes — but it was no more than a walk-through pace. Typically, there are at least that many throws during small-group periods in practice, as well.

Rodgers had always previously participated in most — or all — of the offseason program, so the Packers never felt the need to harness his throws early in camp. However in 2016, then-coach Mike McCarthy did point out that they were being “conscious” of Rodgers’ pitch count.

It’s not like Rodgers loafed around during the offseason. He not only made regular social media posts showing off his workouts but also spoke of the mental work he did.

“I think it’s important that we work on our mental state,” Rodgers said upon his return to the Packers. “As you’ve seen with Simone Biles, I think there needs to be more conversation around that. We as athletes are often put on a pedestal that we’re beyond any mental hindrances or clutter, and the only time that mental health often gets talked about is when it’s in the context of depression. I didn’t have any depression, but I have a ton of respect for those who speak out in those situations. For me, it was just about clearing any of the clutter. That’s what I tried to do this offseason by adjusting some habits and spending some time with my loved ones, traveling as safely and as often as I possibly could and then making sure I was ready to go if I came back.”

There has been some off-the-field catching up to do, as well.

Last offseason, Rodgers raved about what he was able to do with the coaching staff via Zoom when it came to revising the offense. None of that took place this year because Rodgers chose not to participate.

“The biggest thing was just getting on the same page with some of the offseason tweaks that we made to the offense,” LaFleur said. “And, you know, we’re kind of working through those right now.”

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