2018 NFL Training Camps: Aaron Rodgers on playing until he's 40, contract talks, his health
Healthy Aaron Rodgers looking to bring Packers back to the playoffs
GREEN Bay, Wis. – So Aaron Rodgers wants to play until his 40?
"Forty is the new 35 for quarterbacks," said Rodgers, who turns 35 in December.
He's got a point. New England's Tom Brady turns 41 this week and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints is 39. Philip Rivers (36), Ben Roethlisberger (36) and Eli Manning (37) are all well past 30 and heading towards 40.
"Yeah, we don't get hit as much (as the old days), but we still get hit," Rodgers said. "I think it has a lot to do with how we take care of our bodies. I think I can play until I am 40."
Rodgers isn't quite Brady when it comes to his body, but he's done a lot to make himself feel a lot better. He's cut out dairy and eats clean on most days. But, unlike Brady, he cheats.
"He's like a robot that way – in a good way," Rodgers said. "I just can't be that way. I like my sweets now and then."
After his 2017 season was cut short by a broken collarbone on one of those hits he said they still take, Rodgers is back healthy again slinging his rocket throws all over the field. His quick release and power arm were on display Monday when I watched in practice. He hit tight end Jimmy Graham down the seam on a vintage Rodgers throw that turned into a score.
Rodgers did throw three picks that day, and there are those who chart such things for a mindless exercise, but that doesn't matter for him since he doesn't throw many interceptions in games. This isn't Brett Favre, who threw the most in NFL history.
"Anytime you go from the best in the business, it's going to be a huge drop off," Packers receiver Davante Adams said. "We got him back this year, so we're looking forward to big things."
Rodgers said he has no limitations and feels better than even before the surgery.
"The tough thing is I felt it was a lost season late in my career," Rodgers said. "It's one I will never get back. That's tough to handle."
There is the contract talk hanging over his head. He has two years left on his deal, but with so many quarterbacks receiving new deals in the past two years, it's almost inherent on the Packers to give him a mega-deal. That deal would almost certainly make him the highest-paid player in the league – and rightfully so.
There has been talk of Rodgers wanting his contract to be unique, such as including player-option outs in it (no way that happens), but he is hopeful that something can get done.
"I'd like to finish my career here, but you never know," he said. "I'd like to think they can work it out, but it's happened to a lot of guys around here where they didn't. Look at Brett (Favre), (John) Kuhn, Greg Jennings and lots of guys. When you get to a certain age, they might not view you as indispensible like you once were."
That's not happening anytime soon with Rodgers. Even so, I asked Rodgers if he felt as if he would be indispensible at the age of 40.
"I would like to think so," he said with a sly grin.
It's hard to doubt him considering what he's already done in his career.
- The Packers new-look defense will be much more aggressive under new coordinator Mike Pettine, who takes over for Dom Capers, who was let go. Pettine will bring an attacking defense that will use more press-man coverage than in recent years. Defensive end Mike Daniels is excited about the change. "We're a lot more aggressive than we've been in the past," Daniels said. "You can see everybody brings a different type of energy and attitude in practice that, quite frankly, I haven't seen on that side of the ball in some time. Coach Pettine is doing an awesome job bring us together on defense and bringing a different mentality to our side of the ball." For Daniels, it will mean more up-field rushes. In the previous defense, he was more of a two-gap occupier up front, which didn't allow him to rush as much as he will now. That should help the sack numbers go up for one of the more underrated players in the league. He will be joined on the front by rising star Kenny Clark and former Jets player Muhammad Wilkerson, who is playing on a prove-it deal and should be motivated.
- The defense did suffer a few hits in Monday's practice when linebacker Jake Ryan suffered a knee injury that appeared to be serious and safety Kendrell Brice went down with an ankle injury. Brice's injury doesn't appear to be as bad as expected, but Ryan's might be a different story. If Ryan is out, the Packers could turn to rookie third-round draft pick Oren Burks, a player who they have high hopes for, especially as a nickel linebacker. Or they could move Clay Matthews inside on early downs, something they've done in the past, and then move him outside on passing downs. Josh Jones, a second-year player who played a lot as a rookie, will take over in place of Brice, who was going to have a camp battle with Jones to keep his job.
- The Packers no longer have Jordy Nelson, but they still have a star in Davante Adams, who is now the second-longest tenured receiver behind Randall Cobb, although he's just in his fifth season and he's just 25 years old. "Me being the second oldest guy, it sounds crazy (saying it), the more I am told and expected to push the younger guys," Adams said. By all accounts, it appears Geronimo Allison will be the third receiver along with Cobb and Adams. After that, it's wide open with several rookies in the mix, including draft picks J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. The early word is that the young receivers' heads were spinning, but all three have done some good things. No matter what, they have a big advantage playing with Rodgers, learning to catch passes from the best. "The whole world says that (so lucky to play with him)," Adams said. "His leadership abilities and the way he throws the ball just makes my job easy, so I can go out there and play free knowing the ball is going to be where it needs to be."
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