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Rodgers stays away from predictions

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Associated Press
August 1, 2011
— Aaron Rodgers won’t repeat tight end Jermichael Finley’s proclamation the Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl-bound for the second straight year.

“No, I’ll let him do that,” Rodgers said with a wry smile Sunday.


Rodgers is happy to be able to throw the football again to Finley, whose potential breakout season was cut short by a knee injury. But Rodgers isn’t making any guarantees Green Bay will be in Indianapolis in February to try to repeat as NFL champion, as many are predicting.


“It’s a new season. I think that’s how I look at it,” Rodgers said before the team’s training camp practice Sunday night.


“New opportunities, new challenges,” he added. “Every year is different. It’s different guys, different dilemmas, different adversity you have to deal with, you don’t know what’s going to happen as far as injuries or who’s going to be playing, the roster the way it looks now.”


The reigning Super Bowl MVP took to the field Saturday night for the first camp practice cautiously optimistic about the Packers’ repeat prospects this season.


No team has won back-to-back titles since the New England Patriots in 2004-05.


Rodgers noted some roster shakeup that has ensued for the Packers after the lengthy NFL lockout ended last week.


“We have lost some pieces,” Rodgers said. “I don’t care how you slice it, we’ve lost some guys that played some big roles for us.”


Green Bay said goodbye to defensive end Cullen Jenkins and guard Daryn Colledge, both longtime starters, in the first few days of free agency.


The team also released several veteran players, including linebacker Nick Barnett and offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, the latter of whom Rodgers hoped would be kept.


Rodgers was pulling hard Sunday for the organization to re-sign receiver James Jones and fullback John Kuhn.


Later in the day, agent Frank Bauer said Jones agreed to a three-year contract with the Packers, keeping Green Bay’s playmaking corps of Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, Jones and Finley intact for another season.


Running back Ryan Grant, who rushed for 1,200 yards in both 2008 and ’09, also is healthy at the start of camp after he suffered a severe ankle injury in the season opener last year.


“Getting ‘88’ back never hurts,” said Rodgers, referring to Finley’s jersey number. “Obviously, adding him back and adding Ryan Grant back to the mix is going to help, and the guys who stepped up last year when those guys were down, bringing those guys back and having them play a bigger role is important as well.”


Coach Mike McCarthy had a favorable first impression of Rodgers and his handling of the offense Saturday night after nearly six months of inactivity for the team since Green Bay beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in the Super Bowl.


“He really picked up where he left off,” McCarthy said Sunday. “A couple of protection adjustments he made in the first practice (and) he had a couple of big-time throws that he normally does over the course of the season. I like the way he looks.”


The Packers were one of the few teams in the league that didn’t have any formal on-field workouts organized by players during the lockout.


Rodgers, beginning his seventh pro season and fourth as a starter, said he did throwing on his own in California during the lengthy break from football, no different than what he has done in previous offseasons.


“I know my body now and understand what I need to do to get ready to play,” Rodgers said. “I made sure I got myself in tip-top shape.”


McCarthy said Rodgers isn’t on a “pitch count” for how much he throws in training camp, which has been condensed with fewer practices because of the new collective bargaining agreement that abolished two-a-day workouts.


“If we were concerned about the number of throws, we would have a fourth quarterback in camp,” McCarthy said.


Notes


n McCarthy said Derek Sherrod, the team’s first-round draft pick this year, would be at left guard on the No. 1 offensive line for a second straight practice Sunday night. “I thought he did OK,” McCarthy said of Sherrod’s performance Saturday. “Being able to play at that speed, it’s going to take some time, and it’s going to take some reps.” Sherrod, a left tackle in college, said he last played guard in high school.


n McCarthy said LB A.J. Hawk had wrist surgery in the offseason. Hawk, who didn’t miss a game last season, was cleared for the start of camp.


n The Steelers’ James Harrison called fellow LB Clay Matthews of the Packers “all hype” in a controversial interview for a recent article in Men’s Journal. Matthews brushed off the comment from Harrison, who was critical of others, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “He’s entitled to his opinion,” Matthews said Sunday. “I thought I got off easy, actually. So, I’m not complaining. I’ll just leave it at that.”



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