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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers doesn’t feel the need to play in the preseason, but if the Green Bay Packers quarterback plays, he really wants to play.
Rodgers hasn’t played a preseason snap since 2018 — he was scheduled to play one game in the summer of 2019 until the plan was scrapped due to poor field conditions in Winnipeg — but the combination of a poor start last season and the break in of new receivers and offensive linemen could be reason to do it this year.
“I don’t see any benefit to it,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “I certainly don’t see any benefit in playing a series. If we’re going to play, we’re going to play and play a quarter, a couple of series, two to three series. Just suiting up for four games, to me, is a waste.”
Coach Matt LaFleur has already said Rodgers won’t play Friday in the preseason opener in San Francisco or the Week 2 game against the Saints, but he hasn’t ruled him out of the preseason finale in Kansas City.
“I’m not saying this to send a message to Matt; I already told Matt the same thing,” Rodgers said of his preseason philosophy. “We’ll see what happens when we get there.”
The Packers were blown out in last year’s regular season opener 38-3 by the New Orleans Saints. LaFleur said early in camp that it would “potentially” change how he handles training camp and preseason games this year.
“I think you have to learn from every situation you’ve been in,” LaFleur said. “At least it stimulates the conversation.”
Rodgers said: “I think it’s kind of a no-win situation outside the building. If somebody gets hurt. [it’s], ‘I can’t believe they played our guys.’ But if we go out and have a stinker [it’s], ‘I can’t believe they didn’t play them.’ You just have to do what’s best for the team and Matt will do that. He will lean on the leaders of the football team and if he feels we need to go out and play, we will go out and play. But I don’t just want to go out and play three pieces. It’s a waste of time for me.”
Part of the debate is deciding how much time Rodgers should spend with his new receivers, including veteran Sammy Watkins and rookie Romeo Doubs — both of whom look to be a big part of the offense now that Davante Adams is gone — and how a patchwork offensive line will hold up.
The Packers have been without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins as both continue to rehab knee injuries, and the offensive line has struggled in practice. Putting Rodgers behind a shaky line could increase his chances of injury, but if he’s going to play behind a makeshift unit Sept. 11 when the season opens against the Vikings, there might be value in getting some game experience with it.
The Packers could have as many as three new starters on the line — left tackle if Bakhtiari isn’t ready and the entire right side. Yosh Nijman has handled most of the left tackle snaps in practice, while the right side has seen a rotation of Jake Hanson, Royce Newman, rookie Sean Rhyan and rookie Zach Tom.
“We’ve got to see them play well and have some really good moments,” Rodgers said of the line, “so we feel good going into Minnesota and the pass rush that they have.”
For at least the next two weeks, Jordan Love will be the quarterback behind that line.
“We’ll probably look at it after New Orleans,” LaFleur said. “Then don’t ask me in a few weeks.”