Not that they weren’t already concerned, but last weekend made the Packers that much more conscious of keeping Aaron Rodgers upright.
With Michael Vick, Jay Cutler and Alex Smith leaving with concussions, it brought back into focus for them the risk their quarterback takes when he leaves the pocket.
“We can’t afford to lose our quarterback to not sliding and trying to make a play,” tight end Andrew Quarless said, via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I definitely think it’s something he takes into consideration. If he goes down [because of injury], it’s going to be pretty tough.
Rodgers’ inclination remains to err on the side of making a play, much to the chagrin of coaches and teammates.
But it’s not just when he’s outside the pocket, as Rodgers has taken a league-high 29 sacks.
“I get concerned,” center Jeff Saturday said. “He takes some shots now. He’s a tough kid. There’s a lot of times where I’m screaming, ‘Throw it, throw it.’ He can’t hear it, but you just want him to let it go because I want him to play the next play.
“But that’s ingrained in him. He knows if he’s willing to hold it for one second, he’s willing to take that shot to get the ball off and create the big plays.”
Of course, that willingness to go for first downs or hold the ball a second longer trying to make a play is part of the reason he’s good at what he does.
“Just reflect back to our last game vs. the Cardinals and his ability to make plays with his feet,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “ I think Aaron’s a lot more conscious of it [protecting himself] and it’s something, frankly, where hopefully we’re doing a better job of coaching it with our quarterbacks.”
Whether they’re ever able to coach that tendency out of Rodgers remains to be seen.