Rodgers: Toe ‘very, very painful’ in Packers’ loss

  • Covered Packers for Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1997-2013
  • Two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association

MINNEAPOLIS — Aaron Rodgers’ ailing toe was so problematic in Sunday’s last-second loss to the Minnesota Vikings that the Green Bay Packers quarterback actually left the field before the first half was over to head into the locker room.

Rodgers likely thought the Packers were not going to get the ball back, but when they did, Jordan Love took the final snap — a kneel-down — before halftime.

Rodgers still would not get into any more details about his toe, which apparently became an issue during his COVID-19 quarantine earlier this month, saying only that it’s “a little worse than turf toe.” And he doesn’t think it’s going to get any better without a week off. The Packers (8-3) have one more game, a key NFC matchup next Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams (7-3), before they finally get their bye in Week 13.

“I’m just going to have to get to the bye and hope I can get some healing over the bye week,” Rodgers said. “Probably the same schedule next week. Was in a lot of pain. Went in at halftime early to get it checked out. It’s very, very painful. Got stepped on the first half, and that kind of activated all the symptoms I was having. It’s going to be another painful week and next week, and then hopefully start to feel a little better on the bye.”

That likely means he won’t practice much — if at all — in advance of the Rams game. Last week, his only time on the practice field came Friday in limited work, which could explain his slow start to Sunday’s game.

Still, he managed a 385-yard, four-touchdown game, including a game-tying 75-yarder to Marquez Valdes-Scantling with 2:08 left in the game. And whatever treatment Rodgers got at halftime must have worked. He led touchdown drives on all three of the Packers’ second-half possessions, including a pair to Davante Adams (seven catches for 115 yards). It was the start of the game that doomed them. Their first four drives finished field goal, punt, missed field goal, punt.

“I thought in the second half we finally started to get into a better rhythm,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “We started to be a little bit more aggressive, and our execution was on point. There was a lot of good within the game. Certainly, we’d like to finish a couple of those drives a little bit better.”

While the Packers’ defense couldn’t come up with a stop after the Valdes-Scantling touchdown — safety Darnell Savage dropped an interception on the ensuing play that would have given the ball back to Rodgers at his own 36-yard line with two minutes left — the quarterback wouldn’t put this one on a defense that couldn’t stop Justin Jefferson (eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns).

“Our defense has been playing so good, some days have to outscore teams that get hot on offense,” Rodgers said. “We had an opportunity to score 40 points today, and when you’re playing an offense that’s hot, that has a hot quarterback, and stud receivers and a stud back, you gotta keep scoring.

“We’ve had a couple games like this over the years, thinking about 2012 especially, where we gotta outscore them at their place. We didn’t do that today. But I think for us personally on offense, we gotta to start faster. We gotta score touchdowns on those opening plays, so I know Matt will be looking at that this week and dial up some good stuff for L.A.”

Five offensive line penalties didn’t help the offense, either, but the Packers might have a bigger issue with that group. Left tackle Elgton Jenkins went down with a significant left knee injury early in the fourth quarter and was almost immediately ruled out. The Packers will find out Monday whether tests confirm a torn ACL. Jenkins, a Pro Bowl left guard last season, had been filling in for All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, who still has not been cleared to return from last year’s ACL injury.

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