Before they face the Falcons, the Packers have to face the sniffles.
Aaron Rodgers is the latest member of the team to come down with an illness that has been making its way around the Green Bay locker room this week, and he’s certainly the most important. The quarterback, though, said he’ll be fine for Sunday’s NFC title game.
“Rest, fluids, all that stuff,” Rodgers said in a hoarse voice Friday from the podium in his final news conference before the game. “We’ll be OK. It’s kind of going around. Jordy [Nelson] had it. Mason [Crosby] had it. I got it. We’re going to be OK and deal with it.”
Earlier in the day, coach Mike McCarthy said Nelson, who is trying to return from a rib injury, was sent home with his illness in an attempt to avoid infecting anyone else. Too late, apparently, for Rodgers’ health.
But if there is one quarterback in the world who actually might welcome a bug 48 hours before kickoff in a game that will determine who plays in the Super Bowl, it’s probably Rodgers. He’s been tearing through the league for the past two months, and he said he welcomes all kinds of adversity.
That likely includes everything from green room anxiety the night he was drafted to whatever has been ailing him lately.
“I like the challenge,” Rodgers said. “I like when the odds are stacked against you and the expectations are low for certain circumstances or games. I’ve always enjoyed that role. Around here, we haven’t been the underdog too many times, but we are this week. We’re going to a tough environment and there’s an expectation outside of the building that they’re going to win.”
That expectation is sharpened because three top Packers receivers — Nelson (ribs), Davante Adams (ankle) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring) — are listed as questionable and could be game-day decisions.
“All three of the receivers will be given every chance to play in the game,” McCarthy said. “They have work to do, particularly in the rehab [group]. If we know [Saturday], then we’ll know [Saturday]. If we know Sunday, then we’ll know Sunday. One or two of those guys are probably going to have to work out Sunday.”
Add it to Rodgers’ list of obstacles to overcome.
“You make your own opportunities,” he said. “Nothing has been given to us this year. We’ve scratched and clawed for everything. It’s been a really rewarding season.”
Even if fewer people than usual are giving the Packers a chance on Sunday.
“I like our role,” Rodgers said, “and I like our chances.”
Notes & quotes: Falcons WR Julio Jones (toe) will have no limitations Sunday, coach Dan Quinn said. He practiced fully after missing Wednesday and Thursday workouts. “He had good bounce, ran hard and jumped. He looked good,” Quinn said . . . Asked what a second trip to the Super Bowl will do for his legacy and those of his core group of players, Rodgers grinned. “Probably a lot,” he said, “so we hope that happens.” . . . Rodgers also acknowledged that the Georgia Dome will be a raucous atmosphere as it hosts its final NFL game on Sunday, but he needled the Falcons for their reputation of using canned noise. “It’s really loud in there,” Rodgers said. “Whether that’s all natural is yet to be seen.” The Falcons lost a draft pick and were fined $350,000 for pumping crowd noise into their stadium in 2015 . . . Packers RB James Starks (concussion) and OL J.C. Tretter (knee) were ruled out. S Morgan Burnett (quadriceps) and CB Quinten Rollins (neck, concussion) are questionable. The Falcons did not list anyone as out or questionable.