Rodgers Throwing More in Practice
Next game: Sunday, November 9th at Minnesota
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Aaron Rodgers looked off cornerback Jarrett Bush, leaning over and peering at his target.
Then the Packers quarterback sprung into action. Gripping the tiny metal putter made for a toddler, Rodgers' putt Thursday rolled true down the giant center of the "G" in the locker room about 20 feet and went in -- and back out -- the other side of a plastic cup.
Rodgers' accuracy wasn't limited to the kiddie locker room game that appeared earlier Thursday morning.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said his quarterback was extremely active in practice as he continues to heal from a shoulder sprain suffered against Tampa Bay on Sept. 28.
The rest of the Packers were sharp, too, in their preparation for Minnesota on Sunday, if not nearly as precise with the tiny putter. McCarthy said practice ended 13 minutes early.
Rodgers, who has thrown for 1,982 yards, 13 TDs and five interceptions in his eight starts, said this week that the shoulder has not been an issue.
"It's not on my mind," Rodgers said. "I'm feeling pretty good."
The tumultuous offseason and the first injury as a starter are nearly behind Rodgers, who got a big boost from the organization with a contract extension last week through 2014.
Rodgers said the biggest thing has been starting each game this season and the experience of running the team in the aftermath of Brett Favre's trade to the Jets.
"I have eight games under my belt, I've seen a lot of different looks," Rodgers said. "I just feel a lot more comfortable, I think, with the offense, making checks. I'm still not where I want to be yet, I still think my best football is in front of me, and I look forward to chasing that."
Rodgers didn't play his best game in a 19-16 overtime loss to undefeated Tennessee last Sunday and he acknowledged that he was to blame.
"I threw an interception in a key spot, I fumbled the ball in a key spot. Those are things I'm not OK with as a quarterback or as the leader of this football team. I feel like it's my responsibility and my personality to take the blame when it is my fault," Rodgers said.
"Aaron Rodgers didn't lose that game," McCarthy said. "We can go through every facet of quarterback play and I'll tell you about improvement. His challenges are what every quarterback goes through the first year. You've got to keep your weight up. You're not used to getting all of the reps. You're the guy all of the time."
This week's trip to Minnesota and the Metrodome poses another set of challenges. Favre struggled there early in his career, but since McCarthy took over, the Packers have treated the short trip as a home away from Lambeau Field.
"It's obviously a rivalry game anytime you play anyone in the division. This one has a little bit more meaning because we're both 4-4 at this juncture of the season," Rodgers said. "We're in a tough stretch right now of very solid teams, back-to-back road games, and we really need to hit our stride and start playing our best football in November and December."
And Rodgers realizes a lot of it will be up to him to extend McCarthy's winning streak to six games against the Vikings with the Packers facing run-stuffing defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams.
"That's kind of the deal against Minnesota. They're so good against the run that you've got to be patient in the pass game," Rodgers said. "I was pretty efficient in Week 1 when I played them, and I look for some of the same opportunities. I've just got to be efficient with the ball, no turnovers and no sacks and we should be in good shape."
McCarthy has no doubts.
"He's a fine young quarterback. I say it over and over again, and the beauty of Aaron is he's going to get better. I believe that with my heart, I believe that with my eyes. He's going to continue to get better."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)