Unlike some of his teammates — Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith, for example — Rodgers never had to miss a game because of his injured pinky toe. It was a literal sore spot for him for much of the season, though.
According to Rodgers, the pinky toe appears to be a problem no more, and that’s massive news for the Packers as they prepare to chase a Super Bowl ring.
Aaron Rodgers says his injured toe is close to 100%
The Packers were lucky enough to spend Super Wild Card Weekend on a bye, thanks to the fact that they had locked up the NFC’s No. 1 seed. The extra week of rest is huge for Green Bay in terms of potentially getting back a few star players in time for the playoffs. That’s a list that includes Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith, but it also provided an opportunity for banged-up players to get some rest.
High up on that list is left tackle David Bakhtiari, who missed all but half a game this season as he recovered from an ACL tear he suffered at the end of last season. The other headliner among the walking wounded is Rodgers, who somehow hurt his pinky toe in Week 9 while he was sitting out Green Bay’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs due to being in the COVID-19 protocol.
The toe bugged him for the rest of the season, though it’s worth noting that his play never suffered because of the injury. He was seen limping at times, especially deep in games. There were also a few times when the toe was stepped on, which reactivated the injury.
Toward the end of the season, Rodgers appeared to be getting over the injury. Just how close is he to 100%, though?
Speaking to the media after a practice earlier in the bye week, the star quarterback relayed that he’s just about back to full strength, and he’s expecting to be there by the time the Packers take their first playoff snaps.
“I’m feeling good, practiced today, close to 100%, but think I should be 100% by next week,” Rodgers said via Bill Huber.
Rodgers at 100% is a major threat to the rest of the NFC playoff field
Again, it’s worth noting that Rodgers’ play didn’t drop off despite the fact that his toe was injured. Sure, there were a few instances when he wasn’t able to scramble like he usually does. All in all, though, he was able to continue performing at an MVP level, which goes to show how good he is.
Rodgers was playing at an MVP level despite being hobbled with a reasonably significant toe injury. Just how good is he going to be in the playoffs now that he feels he’s close to 100% and has gotten some considerable rest?
Of course, nobody is fully healthy at this point in the season; that’s what makes the playoffs such a grind. It can be a war of attrition more than anything else, and that’s why the most talented team usually doesn’t even make the Super Bowl. The team that goes all the way is usually the healthiest and has the most momentum. That’s just the reality of a one-and-done playoff system.
That’s good news for the Packers.
Rodgers is getting healthy. He also hasn’t lacked momentum. The only game he missed was the one against the Chiefs, but he finished the season on an absolute tear. Including the half of football he played in the finale against the Detroit Lions, Rodgers completed 71.43% of his passes for 2,221 yards and 20 touchdowns with just one interception in the eight games he played with the toe injury.
Even while injured, Rodgers is at the peak of his powers, and you have to think he’s going to enter these playoffs with a chip on his shoulder.
Everyone knows how good he is, and he’s earned his spot in the conversation for the best quarterback of all time, right next to Tom Brady. With that said, Brady has was Rodgers doesn’t, and that’s a plethora of hardware.
Rodgers has the one Super Bowl ring, and he and the Packers have been bridesmaids, never the bride, ever since. He’s gone 0-4 in NFC Championship Games since that Super Bowl season, and that includes two straight losses in the NFC title game under Matt LaFleur.
One would have to think that Rodgers believes everything is coming together for this playoff run. Not only does he have an opportunistic defense and plenty of weapons around him on offense, but he also has to be feeling good about the state of the team.
The Packers are getting healthy at the right time
Every season, a team or two gets decimated by injuries, and it appeared the Packers were that team this season.
That’s what made their 13-4 record this year so impressive. Four of the seven Pro Bowlers from the 2020 season missed all or most of this season. Alexander and Za’Darius Smith have already been mentioned, but Elgton Jenkins has missed much of this year and Bakhtiari just finally made his return back to the lineup.
The upside to dealing with so many significant injuries is that heading to the postseason, it’s almost as if the Packers are picking up players as free agents now that they’re getting healthy.
Getting Bakhtiari back at left tackle makes an already scrappy offensive line that much better. Speaking of, rookie center Josh Meyers looks to be back in the swing of things, which means the Packers will be adding two starters to an offense that already helped Green Bay pick up 13 wins.
Green Bay’s defense could potentially see the addition of Za’Darius Smith for the playoffs. Smith is a two-time Pro Bowler and was Green Bay’s best pass-rusher before suffering a back injury. If he can come back and actually play, he likely won’t be inserted in as the starter for full-time reps. Still, imagine just how good Green Bay’s pass rush would be with Za’Darius Smith backing up Preston Smith (nine sacks this season) and Rashan Gary (9.5 sacks).
Even veteran pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus could make a comeback in the postseason, which would make Green Bay’s pass rush potentially elite.
Speaking of elite, Green Bay’s secondary would be borderline unbeatable if Alexander was reinserted back into the lineup next to Rasul Douglas (five interceptions) and sensational rookie Eric Stokes.
The Packers are getting back critical players at a critical time. Meanwhile, their undisputed leader and the team’s heartbeat, Rodgers, is feeling on top of things as well.
The stars are aligning for Green Bay. There’s no other way to look at it.