Rodgers back, but McCarthy unhappy at Packers camp
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Getting Aaron Rodgers back after a sick day wasn’t enough to keep Packers coach Mike McCarthy from being in a somewhat sour mood.
His quarterback looked just fine Wednesday after sitting out a practice due to illness. The team as whole? Not so much.
“Today was the final practice to get ready for the Seahawks,” McCarthy said, referring to Green Bay’s preseason opponent Friday night. “We were in pads today for a reason. We didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity to get ready to play.”
To the untrained eye, practice appeared as if it went relatively smoothly. Rodgers, the 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player, delighted training camp fans by hitting nets from at least 20 yards away during accuracy drills. Working against mainly against the second-string defense, Rodgers looked sharp during a red-zone drill with four straight touchdown strikes, including a laser-like pass to tight end Jake Stoneburner.
Before the ring of reporters around his locker could ask a question, Rodgers declared “I’m fine.” The head cold that kept him out Tuesday apparently wasn’t an issue any more.
McCarthy concurred before disclosing more pressing issues.
“I thought Aaron Rodgers looked fine. I thought practice in general … I thought we started off the way it needed to be; I need to get a look at the video,” McCarthy said. “I wasn’t very happy with the way we practiced once we got to the ‘move the ball’ periods, so as far as individual performance, I’m a little jaded right now.”
He didn’t name names. But rest assured, the Packers will hear about whatever’s bothering the head coach.
“I didn’t see any of that, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” Rodgers said when asked if he had a sense of what was bothering McCarthy.
Defensive tackle B.J. Raji wasn’t sure, either.
“Coach has a different vantage point than I do. I’m generally more worried about my position, my assignments and my side of the ball. Coach obviously has a broader perspective. He has a certain tempo he’s looking for,” Raji said. “If he wasn’t happy with it, then it wasn’t good enough.”
There was some positive news with receiver Randall Cobb returning to practice on a limited basis after being bothered by a biceps injury. McCarthy said there was a chance Cobb could go Friday night.
Running back DuJuan Harris looks like he’ll make his preseason debut Friday after being sidelined by a knee injury. Harris seemed to be practicing at full speed, looking good making cuts around the edge on a couple of handoffs. Harris may need a strong showing against the Seahawks to stave off rookie Eddie Lacy, who made his impressive debut last week against the Rams with 40 yards on eight carries in the first half.
To McCarthy, it’s all about players getting the opportunities to make statements. With training camp nearing an end, those opportunities are getting fewer — so perhaps that’s part of the reason the head coach wasn’t satisfied Wednesday.
But Harris was one of the players he singled out for good play.
“He practiced the way you’re supposed to. I would say he was one of the guys that went about it the right way,” McCarthy said. “So we’ll see what the medical people say, but yeah, definitely I’d like to get him out there and get him going.”
McCarthy said he also feels good about receiver Jordy Nelson’s progress from a minor knee procedure that’s kept him off the practice field. Nelson, who has been walking around and throwing footballs at times with fellow receivers, hopes to return for the season opener Sept. 8 at San Francisco.
First-round pick and defensive end Datone Jones did limp off after apparently hurting his left ankle, which he injured earlier in the preseason.
Rodgers is a savvy veteran, the longest tenured Packer, in fact, with nine years in Green Bay. Whether or not he gets any more meaningful action in preseason games after Friday, Rodgers knows what’s coming.
As a veteran player, “you want to make sure that you’re making the plays that are there on the field and thinking the right kind of things and getting out of the game healthy,” he said, “and realizing that the regular season is just around the corner.”