Rodgers tweaks his calf on first day of Jets OTAs

Mike Florio and Chris Simms discuss how Aaron Rodgers not being used to doing OTAs, combined with his age and history of ankle injuries contributed to tweaking his calf.

Video Transcript

MIKE FLORIO: Be careful at OTA practices, as we were praising Aaron Rodgers for showing up and participating, something he has not been doing of late and Packers fans upset with the reality that he's stayed away in recent years from Packers OTAs. But he was there with bells on for the Jets. Apparently, the bell caused a strain in his calf. It happened yesterday.

Scroll to continue with content

He was reportedly favoring his ankle due to those who were at the scene watching Aaron Rodgers practice. He was over at the sideline talking to the trainers. After practice, Rodgers had an opportunity to explain to reporters what it was that had happened to him in the OTA session on Tuesday.

AARON RODGERS: I just tweaked my calf. And it's good photos, right? I just tweaked my calf in the little pre-practice conditioning. So I decided to take it-- take it that day.


AARON RODGERS: I don't know. I mean, I don't think it's too serious.

- What are your thoughts on doing some of those things like with the medicine ball and pulling weights and things like that?


AARON RODGERS: I haven't done it before. I haven't done it in eight years, so-- but obviously, there's some science behind it.

- What exactly were you doing when you tweaked it [INAUDIBLE]?

AARON RODGERS: I don't, just running, I guess.

MIKE FLORIO: Boy, there's something going on there with this facial expressions, isn't there?

CHRIS SIMMS: Well, he was-- he was being a little, like, cute. Or I don't know if he was trying to be a little-- just answer in a charismatic, sharp kind of edgy way. I don't know what he was or if he was also a little frustrated. It was weird too.

What was the science experiment thing? I've heard about the science having tried it. What was the question there? I couldn't quite hear what he was answering in that part of it. You couldn't either.


MIKE FLORIO: I'm with you. I couldn't either. I don't know what he was talking about.


MIKE FLORIO: Here's bottom line. I've strained my calf before. There is only one cure for the strained calf, rest, because you keep trying to-- it does not go away until you give it sufficient time to heal on its own completely, 100%. And sometimes when you think it's 100%, you find out the hard way that it is not.

Look, it's important that he be there. It's important to be involved. But if you've got a strained calf, you just shut it down. Shut it down, and let it go until training camp, especially when you are old man like Aaron Rodgers is, 39 pushing 40.


That stuff does not heal as quickly as it did when you were younger. And I've lived it. I've been there. I've done it. I was right around his age when I tweaked calf playing softball or something stupid like that.

And it did not go away for a long time because you have to stop doing everything for a while just like a hamstring. Any of those soft tissue injuries, you just have to let it sit. Now, I understand they have some devices that would help speed the healing process along. But s can only do so much. At some point, you just have to wait for your body to heal itself, or it's going to continue, and continue, and continue.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah. No, you said it right. It's a-- well, I dealt with it right around 40 too. You know, I was still trying to run and running up hills one day. And the calf goes, and you're right.

It's one of those things where a week goes, and you go, oh, it feels pretty good. Let me go try to run again. And you go, oh, crap. I hurt it again.


Let me take three weeks off. And you think, oh, OK, I'm good now. It's three weeks. And then you do it again, and you go, oh, crap. It's still hurts.

This is an injury, one, that-- you used the word, old man. This is what it's known as in the NFL locker room. It's the old man injury.

That's usually who gets it. That's what the guys in the locker room are going to laugh and make fun of him for, right? You don't see usually a 23-year-old receiver, a quarterback, or running back, or anybody like that ever pull their calf muscle. It's always a guy that's kind of towards the end of his career or your 10, 12 as a defensive lineman. It is one of those kind of injuries.

And then add it on top of that, Mike, you know, I got to say in his career, this is probably-- I'm going to say at least the third or fourth time he's hurt his calf, right? He's missed games. He's had a deal with hopping on one leg and playing through the calf injury a number of times through his career.


So this is something that pops up on him from time to time. And I saw those highlights of him running on Monday at practice, right? He scored the touchdown. I think it was a 7-7 drill.

Or maybe that was yesterday. I can't even remember anymore. You know? And some of that work, it wore him out a little bit. It pulled finally. So he's got to be careful, like you said.

MIKE FLORIO: Especially when you're not used to doing much work this time of year.

CHRIS SIMMS: That's true. Right.

MIKE FLORIO: It started earlier than usual. His body's not used to this. He has had a couple of calf injuries. December of 2014, he had a slight tear in his calf. And who can forget what that culminated with? Ndamukong Suh stomping on the lower leg and then the all time flimsy defense when he was suspended and ultimately got the suspension overturned.


But his defense it was called at Lambeau Field. My foot had gone numb. I did not know where I was stepping. The video evidence would tend to suggest otherwise.

Then two years later, December again, 2016, a leg calf strain. It wasn't considered serious. So that is the history. Here's what's happened now.

The injury occurred while he was hopping with a small medicine ball, one of the quirky exercises they do to warm up before practice. Rogers wouldn't confirm that saying it occurred while he was running, the first time in his 19-year career that he warmed up with a medicine ball. That's when he said, obviously, there's a science behind it. Presumably, Chris, the science is not if you want to strain your calf, hop around with a medicine ball.

CHRIS SIMMS: No. Well, yeah, exactly right. You're doing-- they're doing that. It's something to stimulate the nervous system, get the body used to holding something, whatever. I'm sure they have their reasons for doing that drill. I haven't-- really have experience with that one there.


But yeah, that's one of those now that the next time they pull that drill out, Rodgers is going to look at them and go, nah, nah. I'm good. I've made it 19 years without the hop with the medicine ball drill. I'll be OK.

So this is just one of those things. Who knows? I doubt it's even that. Maybe he overstretched it before he went to practice, right, Mike? I mean, there's so many things that could have led up to it.

Either way, he's a guy that's got a lot of wear and tear on his body. And you know, I think he still thinks he's young. And he wants to hop around.

And like he told Mike Tirico, you know, it was that last year or two years ago, I still want to make the magic plays and do some of that, right? So sometimes, he maybe is probably too aggressive on it too and playing around like we saw scrambling and doing that on Monday. And that just caught up with him a little bit.


MIKE FLORIO: See? We've been spoiled by Tom Brady playing until the age of 45. But Brady rarely does that kind of stuff. And when Brady decides to run, it's, like, slow motion. It's not like he's running fast enough to strain anything.

CHRIS SIMMS: That's the point, Mike. That's exactly right. Really, bad athletes, they don't pull muscles because they're not explosive enough to pull it, right? Rodgers-- that's really the point.

And I put myself in there. Like, I've never pulled a muscle. I wasn't fast enough or explosive enough to pull a hamstring or anything like that.

But you get around freaks, they're able to push their body and strain through things that are at a different level. And those are the guys. And Rodgers is a freak. You can say what you want.

He's a guy who ran 4.5 coming out. He can dunk a basketball in his prime. I mean, so those are the guys that pull your muscle.

MIKE FLORIO: I'd like to think a guy 6' 4", 6' 5" could dunk a basketball. That would seem to be a given if you're that tall.

CHRIS SIMMS: Well, he's 6' 2". And well, yeah, I could. I can't anymore. But he's 6' 2" and change, right? I mean 6' 2", it's-- yeah, you'd like to think so.

But I think, like, in his prime, he could kind of do it easy from what I was told. So that's the kind of athlete he is. And not all 6', 2" white guys can dunk. We know that.

MIKE FLORIO: The key is-- the key is the hand size. You got to have hands big enough to easily grip the ball because as you make your move, if you have hands that can't really hold on to the ball, it slips out as you strain to do it.

CHRIS SIMMS: Oh. Well, you're right about that. And he doesn't have to worry about that department either. Aaron Rodgers, his hands are like Smeagol.

MIKE FLORIO: He's got giant hands.

CHRIS SIMMS: He's like Smeagol in "Lord of the Rings." You ever seen that? The precious, right? And his hands are, like, this long. He's got, like, three extra knuckles. That's Rogers.

The first time I shook Aaron Rodgers' hands-- and I have giant hands, and you know that, right? I had some of the biggest hands in my draft class. I shook his hand, and I was like, wait. Is that his middle finger halfway down my forearm as we're shaking hands here?

His hands are so long. So when we shook, his hand was, like, over here. And I still-- I remember that. Him and Brett Favre, I can remember having that feeling of, man, their hands are gigantic.

MIKE FLORIO: First of all, I like "neckle" better than knuckle, so I'm not going to give you a hard time for that. Second of all, would it surprise you to know-- and it probably would. There was a time in my life where if I could have held on to the ball, I could have easily dunked at 5' 11".

CHRIS SIMMS: I don't-- I mean, I would be a little surprised. You have the structure and the body build to make me think you could jump a little bit. You got pretty long legs for a 5' 11" guy, short torso. So you got the levers. I could see that.

It wouldn't surprise me that you say you could dunk, you know? But I could see how you could jump up there a little bit. I could see that.

MIKE FLORIO: I couldn't-- I couldn't hold the ball. And I couldn't jump-- when you try to do the two hand Charles Barkley.


MIKE FLORIO: You've got to spring off of one leg. We were obsessed with that. And we would try and try. So what we try to do is you try-- one guy throws it.


MIKE FLORIO: --jump up and do it that way. And you could never get it just right. I came really close one time where I kind of knocked it in and grabbed the rim. And it wasn't-- you really wanted that feeling of hand on the ball, slam it down.

I tried, and I tried, and I tried. And I'm serious. I could get it. And I remember where I hit on the forearm. And this is no lie. I could get this high over the rim. I could get that high. That's high enough to do it. You just have to be able to hold the ball.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah. No, you're right. You've got to have [INAUDIBLE].

MIKE FLORIO: That was a long time ago.

CHRIS SIMMS: That's right.

MIKE FLORIO: That was a long-- that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

CHRIS SIMMS: I get it all the time, Mike. I'm getting it-- my 12-year-old-- and not that I was some high flying dunker by any stretch of the imagination, right? I was, like, the guy that needed a lane open and to jump off on one leg and do it that way. But he's constantly, my 12-year-old, I can't believe you can't dunk anymore. Oh, my gosh.

You're 6' 5". I don't care that you're 42. You should be able to dunk. Yeah, what if I put the rim at 9 and 1/2? Will you dunk?

He always wants me to dunk or try to dunk in front of his friends and do all of that. So I'm always getting this pressure. And it's like, man, I just can't do it.

I could feel it in my back. I don't have the spring there. I don't have the spring in my legs. It ain't going to happen anymore. I don't have any ups at all anymore.

MIKE FLORIO: Yeah, but it probably wouldn't take you long to get to it.

CHRIS SIMMS: No, I could get it going a little.

MIKE FLORIO: There's different exercises you can do. You can hop around with a medicine ball.


MIKE FLORIO: You'll be good to go.