GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers spent part of his offseason filming national commercials for State Farm insurance with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“I really enjoyed working with him this summer,” the Green Bay Packers quarterback said of his co-star and the NFL’s reigning MVP. “He’s a great actor.”
So perhaps Mahomes was just acting Wednesday, when he took part in the Chiefs’ practice on a limited basis — six days removed from a dislocated kneecap suffered on Thursday Night Football — and the Chiefs will indeed start backup Matt Moore in Sunday night’s game against the Packers at Arrowhead Stadium.
Or maybe Mahomes really will defy the odds and start against the Packers, giving NFL fans — and NBC Sports, which will be broadcasting the prime-time game — the quarterbacking matchup they want to see.
“I would never count Pat out of playing this week,” said Rodgers, who played all of last season with a tibial plateau fracture in his knee, sustained in the season-opener. “Obviously, he’s an extremely talented player. I love putting on the film and watching him and his arm angles and throwing ability and his eye manipulation. He’s an extreme talent in the league, and the league is obviously better when he’s playing.
“Obviously (I had) a different injury and his looked pretty bad. I’ve seen some of the reports about the expected length of time off you need (to recover), but this is what we do and that’s why I say I wouldn’t count him out.”
During the opening 15 minutes of practice that were open to reporters in Kansas City, Mahomes went through pre-practice stretching and warmups before doing individual drill work with the rest of the quarterbacks. According to ESPN.com, Mahomes was fourth in the quarterback line behind Moore, Kyle Shurmur and Chad Henne and was wearing sweatpants, which hid whatever protection he might’ve been wearing on his knee.
In a conference call with Wisconsin reporters earlier in the day, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he planned on having Mahomes do some work in practice but didn’t say how much.
“I’m going to just see,” Reid said. “I’ve got a bunch of guys who are coming back off of (injuries), so I’m going to see how they all do and then I’ll be able to get a little better feel on things. But he’s going to do a few things out there, and we’ll see how he does.”
Moore, who Reid had said would get “a good percentage of the reps” during team drills, said he had not been told whether he will start Sunday night’s game. The Packers defense is preparing for both Mahomes and Moore in practice, coach Matt LaFleur said.
“I think you’ve always got to prepare for the quarterback, especially when he’s out there practicing,” LaFleur said. “But there’s so much to prepare for when you look at their offense. I mean, they’ve got explosive playmakers all over the field.” And, oh by the way, you have Andy Reid, who is as good as anybody in the business at calling plays. There’s plenty to prepare for whether he plays or not.
Based on what Reid told reporters in Kansas City, the Packers just might see Mahomes after all.
“It was the best possible result, and I just kind of program in the way he rolls,” Reid said of the test results following Mahomes’ injury. “After it happened, he thought he could go back in. That’s how he’s wired. He’s wired a little different that way. ... He attacks everything. That’s how he goes about it. He’s been full steam ahead.”
While wide receiver Davante Adams was technically a non-participant in practice — despite going through warm-ups with his teammates for the first time since suffering his turf toe injury Sept. 26 — he was the only one on the roster who didn’t take part in the walk-through session in some way.The most important development was with rookie safety Darnell Savage, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury. Savage was listed as a full participant in the practice, but with a more intense practice on tap for Thursday afternoon, that should be a more significant test.
LaFleur said Wednesday’s work consisted of three 20-minute walkthrough periods for the offense and defense, a couple of special-teams periods as similar speed and one 20-minute individual drill period. The practice was so light that players didn’t even wear helmets.
“I think you’ve got to trust what you see,” LaFleur replied when asked why he took the practice approach he did. “You’ve got to trust the people around you, the medical staff, trust your players. This time of the year, you’re going to have some injuries, some bumps and bruises that people are fighting through. But ultimately, at the end of the day, you want your players fresh for Sunday. So, I used it as more of an above-the-neck type day where they’re focusing on the details of the plan. I thought our guys approached it well.”
Tight end Robert Tonyan, who also hasn’t played since Oct. 6 because of a hip injury, also was a full participant. Rodgers (knee) and tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) were among the players who were limited.