GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers find themselves in unfamiliar territory, with no playoff berth to chase but quarterback Aaron Rodgers healthy enough to play in the final two games of a going-nowhere season.
If interim head coach Joe Philbin has anything to say about it, anyone who is healthy enough to play – including Rodgers – will play next weekend against the New York Jets despite the circumstances.
Rodgers has played all season with a left knee injury sustained in the season opener in September. He said he also injured his groin during the Packers’ 24-17 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, though the quarterback quickly added he wants to play in the final two games, regardless of the risk.
It’s in line with the message Philbin delivered to the team Monday afternoon.
“In the general sense, my philosophy is football players are paid to play football games, and football coaches are paid to coach football games,” Philbin said. “Obviously, we have to go through the week and we would never put any player out there that wasn’t physically ready to go. But that’s my general philosophy and overall philosophy – whether it’s Aaron Rodgers or anybody else.
“We’re the Green Bay Packers, we’re a football team and we’re in the business of winning football games, and we want all our players who are healthy to contribute to the overall success of the team. Period,” Philbin added.
The loss to Chicago clinched a second straight losing season for Green Bay (5-8-1). Asked if he expected the team to use the final two games to take a look at young quarterback DeShone Kizer, Rodgers said that he “for sure” wants to play.
Rodgers recalled thinking he might get to play late in the 2005 season, when he was a rookie first-round pick backing up Brett Favre and the Packers were 3-11 with two games to go.
“I remember ‘Favrey’ came in late in the season and said, ‘Well, you’re probably going to get a chance to play here,'” Rodgers recounted. “Didn’t happen.”
Rodgers enters the final two games having thrown for 3,974 yards, but with the second-lowest completion percentage in his 11 years as Packers starter (61.7 percent). With just 23 touchdown passes, Rodgers is on pace for the fewest he’s had in a season in which he was healthy enough to play all year.
“Nobody’s talked to me about (not playing). I want to play, though, so I’m expecting to start and play,” Rodgers said. “I’d like to be out there and lead us the last two weeks.”
NOTES: Philbin did not have an update on RB Aaron Jones, who left Sunday’s loss with a knee injury. “We’re going to have to see what his status will be,” Philbin said. “Hopefully he’ll be ready to play.” The Packers had only one other true halfback on the roster against the Bears, Jamaal Williams, who carried 12 times for 55 yards and a touchdown. . The team claimed RB Kapri Bibbs off waivers from the Redskins. Bibbs carried 20 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns for Washington this season and also caught 13 passes for 102 yards and a score. . Rookie reserve OL Alex Light was suspended one game for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the league announced Monday. Light, who has played only three snaps on offense this season, is eligible to return to the active roster on Dec. 24.
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