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Aaron Rodgers finally admits the obvious — his thumb is broken — but debates impact

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GREEN BAY — Although Aaron Rodgers did confirm on Wednesday what had been suspected for a while — his right thumb is indeed broken — the Green Bay Packers quarterback insisted throughout a back-and-forth with reporters the injury hasn’t hindered his performance as much as many might presume it has.

In fact, Rodgers was so insistent his weekly session at his locker devolved into something of a Vaudeville act that left Rodgers smirking at one point and reporters confused at how he could say his play has not been significantly influenced by the injury.

Rodgers enters Sunday night’s prime-time matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field having completed 64.6% of his passes for 2,542 yards with 19 touchdowns, seven interceptions, four lost fumbles and 21 sacks for a 93.2 rating.

After putting the ball where he wanted it on virtually every throw in a Nov. 13 win over Dallas, Rodgers missed a pair of critical throws in last Thursday night’s 27-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field — including a mid-fourth quarter ball that sailed over the head of an open Allen Lazard in Tennessee territory with the offense in position to cut the lead to a field goal with a touchdown.

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers discusses the challenge of playing through a broken thumb.

So what’s going on? Hard to say. But first, a few of the facts from Rodgers, who injured the thumb on an aborted Hail Mary on the Packers’ final play of their Oct. 9 loss to the New York Giants in London:

  • The thumb is broken, marking the first time he’s played with a broken finger in his NFL career. X-rays confirmed the break upon the team’s arrival stateside.

“On the flight home, I was in some pain, and I actually didn’t even want to get x-rayed, because I was still going to play, didn’t matter what the x-ray showed,” Rodgers said. “But they talked me into it.”

  • Surgery was never considered, nor does he believe surgery will be necessary after the season.

“I don’t think so,” Rodgers said.

  • The tibial plateau fracture he suffered in the 2018 season opener had a greater impact on his throwing than the thumb has had on it.

“I’ve had worse injuries I’ve played with,” Rodgers said. “When I hurt my knee in ’18, you throw from the ground up, so that was definitely difficult on the footwork, plant leg.”

  • The thumb hasn’t been the reason the offense has been run largely out of the shotgun for much of the season, Rodgers said.

“I didn’t take a lot of under center snaps during the weeks leading up (the Dallas game),” he said. “I didn’t really get any better, didn’t get significantly worse. There would be a couple plays every game, maybe a snap slightly inside or a hit that might jolt it a little bit.

“I told (the coaches), I said, ‘Don’t hold anything back. Let’s go under center. I’ll be fine on Sundays.’”

  • The six days the Packers had off between last Thursday night’s loss to the Tennessee Titans and Wednesday’s practice, which Rodgers participated in on a limited basis with the thumb taped, has his thumb feeling better than it has since the Giants game.

“Definitely a challenge, but the days off helped,” Rodgers said. “(I’m) feeling better this week.”

After all those questions, it was pointed out to Rodgers it didn’t seem like he was enjoying the conversation.

“I don’t mind,” he replied. “It’s just, I felt like we were past that first part.”

That’s when the conversation transitioned into a fact-finding mission as to how much the injury has impacted Rodgers’ performance.

Scott Ferrall and Adam Caplan discuss Eagles and Packers.

With other extenuating circumstances — struggling to get on the same page with inexperienced young receivers, injuries to established veteran pass-catchers, a lack of continuity on the offensive line — contributing to the team’s offensive struggles, Rodgers insisted the thumb hasn’t been as problematic as it would seem.

That led to the following back and forth.

Q: It doesn’t make a difference that it’s broken?

A: “It doesn’t make a difference with me playing. It doesn’t make a difference.”

Q: So on the two most important throws you missed against Tennessee, if you make those throws 99 times out of 100, are you 100 out of 100 without a broken thumb?

A: “No, I don’t think so. There’s one in every 100 that doesn’t come off the right way.”

Q: So the one in the fourth quarter to Lazard, that wasn’t due to the thumb? It was just a crummy throw.

A: “Yeah.”

Q: Are you saying that to not make an excuse, or because that’s the truth?

A: “I think that’s the truth, I really do. I think it’s the truth. My thumb was hurting a lot worse in the Dallas game, and I put the ball where I wanted to.”

Q: But how is that possible?

A: “That’s a good question.”

Q: Thank you. Do you have an answer?

A: “I don’t have a great answer for you.”

rodgers sack 11-23

Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons sacks Packers' Aaron Rodgers during last Thursday's game at Lambeau Field.

One thing Rodgers does know is Sunday night’s game is vital to keeping the team’s faint playoff hopes alive. While he stopped short of calling the game the Packers’ “last stand,” he did acknowledge that, as the 2016 team did in winning its final six games to make the playoffs, this team must get some momentum going.

“It’s like a snowball effect rolling downhill. So, we’ve got to pack that snowball this week and get it to the top of the hill and let it start rolling downhill,” Rodgers said. “We need an energy shift, and then a belief to kick in, and then for us to play four quarters and finish the game out. Get one in the bag, and then get the next five.”

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