GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers said about what you'd expect them to say after they lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a shoulder injury.
Coach Mike McCarthy said nothing about Rodgers' left shoulder, refusing to reveal the initial diagnosis of the injury that knocked Rodgers out of the Packers' 27-20 loss to Chicago.
“No timeline, no exact diagnosis," a perturbed McCarthy said. "That's where we're at."
The players said they didn't know Rodgers' medical situation either, but said if they had to go forward for a while with backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, they had confidence in him.
"Nothing changes," guard Josh Sitton said. "We don't make excuses around here."
That's all great, but the truth is the Packers aren't prepared for life without Rodgers. No NFL team would be.
Wallace was on the roster simply because the Packers needed a warm body as a backup quarterback. None of the long shots they had on the preseason roster worked out. Wallace, who was out of football last year, was available. So he was signed out of necessity.
Green Bay is 5-3 and tied for first place, but realistically, it might be impossible to keep up that pace without Rodgers, who is perhaps the best player in the NFL.
"He's the quarterback, he's the former MVP of the league, that says it all," receiver Jordy Nelson said. "He's a Super Bowl MVP, Super Bowl champion. You don't replace him, you try to fill in as much as possible. If it's easy to go replace someone of his caliber, there would be a lot better quarterbacks in the league. Everyone just has to do their job, and maybe do it a little better."
Very few teams have an Alex Smith-Colin Kaepernick situation like the 49ers had last season. Teams with a franchise quarterback in his prime invest in complementary pieces, not in a backup quarterback in case the starter gets hurt. The team prays the starting quarterback doesn't go down. Everyone knew what it meant when Rodgers suffered that injury. That's why Lambeau Field was quiet and tense most of Monday night.
Wallace had 114 yards passing in the final 57:24 of the game after Rodgers had 27 yards in the first 2:36. Even though the Bears allowed 199 rushing yards to a one-dimensional offense and Chicago had its own backup quarterback, as Josh McCown replaced Jay Cutler, the Packers still lost by a touchdown. The Bears were a 10.5-point underdog when oddsmakers figured on Rodgers throwing more than two passes. That's how much Rodgers’ injury swung the game.
Everything will change for the Packers if Rodgers misses some time. He has missed only one game due to injury since becoming Green Bay's starter in 2008. He missed a game with a concussion in 2010. Given Rodgers' track record, it's fair to assume this injury was significant if it knocked him out of Monday's game. He stayed in the locker room from early in the first quarter until he came back to the sideline in street clothes during the third quarter.
"Aaron is one of the toughest to play that position, and he normally bounces up, even with a smile on his face after some hits," fullback John Kuhn said. "We're feeling for him right now, and hope for the best."
Maybe the Packers' running game can carry the team, and Wallace will be better with a full week of practice as the starter. The Bears played well without Cutler on Monday night, and using a backup quarterback isn't always a death sentence. Or perhaps the Packers will get good news on Rodgers once more tests are done.
Green Bay will be hoping for that positive news, because everyone understands how bad the worst-case scenario might be.
"He's the heart and soul of this team – offense and defense," rookie running back Eddie Lacy said. "It took a lot out of us. We tried to step up the best we could."
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