NFL

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers expected to play pre-season game in Winnipeg

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is participating in practice and is expected to play in the Packers' third preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, in Canada.

2-time NFL MVP has sat out Green Bay's two previous exhibition games

The Green Bay Packers expect quarterback Aaron Rodgers to make his pre-season debut Thursday when they play the Oakland Raiders in Winnipeg. (Morry Gash/Associated Press)

Aaron Rodgers practised on Monday after sitting out the Packers' second pre-season game in Baltimore and being sidelined during practice Sunday with back tightness.

But the verdict is still out on whether the two-time MVP will make his pre-season debut Thursday night against the Raiders in Canada.

Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst said the plan is for Rodgers to play. Coach Matt LaFleur said he's still undecided, and Rodgers said after practice that nothing he'll see against Oakland in Winnipeg will be better or more valuable than what he sees every day against his teammates on the defensive side.

"The practices are so much more important than the pre-season," he said. "The looks that we see on a day like today are invaluable reps. It's an attacking defence, it's different fronts, it's different pressures. Oakland does some different things over the last couple pre-seasons that stress you at times protection-wise, so it's not as vanilla as you might see in the preseason.

'Best reps are in practice'

"But the best reps I'm going to see all summer are in practice. If (coach) Matt (LaFleur) wants us to play, we'll play and go out and compete. If not, I feel pretty good about where we're at."

LaFleur, despite having yet to see Rodgers against live competition, said he has all the confidence in the world that the 15-year veteran will be ready when Green Bay opens the season Sept. 5 at Chicago.

"I don't think it's going to make or break us one way or the other," he said. "... I'm not overly concerned either way whether he plays or not."

Gutekunst said Monday before Rodgers took the field that he would like to see the seven-time Pro Bowler "get some of that rust off" before the Packers go into Soldier Field.

"We'd love to have him out there (on Thursday)," Gutekunst said. "But again, I think he got a lot of practice reps against Houston. I know he wasn't a fan of them, but those two days versus Houston I think were important, to get out there in that environment. So, like I said, I think the plan is to get him out there Thursday night."

Rodgers didn't like joint practices

LaFleur said he and his staff are still deciding how much the first team will play, but he said he has a pretty good idea of what he's going to do.

Rodgers was outspoken about his displeasure with the two joint practices with Texans before the teams faced off in their preseason opener. Rodgers, who watched the game from sideline while listening to the offensive communications on a headset, voiced similar displeasure with preseason games on Monday.

"This is not going to be a growing process from a play-caller-to-quarterback standpoint," he said. "It is what it is. The pre-season, you don't carry those wins over to the regular season.

"I do find it interesting that some teams get a pass this time of year. The Rams don't play anybody and not many people talk about that fact. Now, the counter would be, 'Well, this is a new system.' I get it, but we've spent a number of practices from May and June and training camp in July and now in August running this stuff, running unscripted periods, where he has to call the play in.

"I feel very comfortable in the offence conceptually, philosophically, enunciating the plays, getting us in the right formation, getting the checks within the play easily figured out. I feel very comfortable with it."

Thursday will be the third time the Packers have played a pre-season game outside the United States. Green Bay defeated the Bills 35-3 in Toronto on Aug. 16, 1997 and beat Kansas City 27-24 in overtime in Tokyo on Aug. 2, 1998.

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