On Wednesday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers admitted he has been playing with a broken thumb. Turns out, he’s been playing with more than just a break.
On Sunday, before Rodgers was set to make a seventh start with the injury, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Rodgers has been playing with an avulsion fracture.
According to The Cleveland Clinic:
An avulsion fracture is where a small piece of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main part of the bone. Ligaments hold your bones, joints and organs in place while tendons connect muscles and bones. In an avulsion fracture, your bone moves one way and your tendon or ligament moves in the opposite direction with a broken chunk of bone in tow. This most often happens when you suddenly change direction.
According to Rapoport’s sources, surgery “almost always” is required. Rodgers on Wednesday said, “I don’t think so, no,” when asked if he might need surgery.
Rodgers delivered a strong performance two weeks ago against Dallas in what seemed at the time a season-saving victory. However, he was off-target in last Thursday’s loss to Tennessee. Rodgers wouldn’t use the thumb as an excuse, though.
“I think that’s the truth, I really do. I think it’s the truth,” he said. “My thumb was hurting a lot worse in the Dallas game, and I put the ball where I wanted to.”
With his starting quarterback struggling with accuracy and 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love waiting in the wings, coach Matt LaFleur on Thursday said he hadn’t considered benching Rodgers so the thumb could heal.
“Aaron’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around in terms of just being able to battle through multiple injuries,” LaFleur said. “So. that never crossed my mind. It’s more or less the conversation, in terms of how he communicates with us and where he’s at. I know he told you guys he’s played through a lot worse. So, yeah, he’s old-school tough.”
If the Packers lose to the Eagles on Sunday night, they’d fall to 4-8. With the possibility of surgery being raised in the NFL Network report, some franchise-defining wheels could be set in motion. For the short term, that could mean Rodgers having surgery and Jordan Love finishing the season at quarterback. For the long term, that could mean Rodgers playing his final game(s) in a Packers uniform.
General manager Brian Gutekunst traded up to land Love in the first round of the 2020 draft with an eye on extending Green Bay’s run of quarterbacking excellence.
This is Love’s third season. He’s been given meaningful playing time in two games: a loss in his only career start at Kansas City last season and a loss in relief of Rodgers at Detroit in the final game of last season. In that limited action, Love threw only one fewer interception than Rodgers despite throwing 469 fewer passes and had as many turnovers while playing less than 12 percent of the snaps.
This offseason, the Packers must decide whether to activate Love’s fifth-year option. That’s a $19.848 million decision, according to OverTheCap.com. Do the Packers need to see him play to make that decision and to plot their quarterbacking future? Three NFL executives recently said no.
“I’d say that, yes, you’d have some sense of whether a guy has ‘it’ by then or not,” a scout said. “Three years is a good length of time to have a body of work to observe/make a judgement on that. Especially at that position, seeing how he operates daily, how he interacts with guys on and off the field, how locked in he is during practice and also how successful he is against the starters while running the scout team.”
LaFleur seemed to agree.
“I think we see it every day so we’ve got a pretty good indication,” he said before the Dallas game. “There’s nothing like getting in the game and getting those live reps, but he continues to show improvement on a daily basis.”